Life After Death
The ambitious long-awaited sequel, Life After Death dropped immediately after mourning on March 25th, 1997. After three years in the works the posthumous works of Notorious B.I.G. exceeded expectations in a double-disc (24 track) conclusive drama with an eerie parallel to the real life tragedy of his young life. Ready To Die gave us the street hustler, Life After Death gave us the Don, the godfather icon. If Ready To Die was classic, Life After Death was epic. Here he used an array of some of the industry's best producers, Easy Mo Bee, Clark Kent, DJ Premier, Wu-Tang's RZA and more to compile a diverse effort. In the same style he collaborated with various hip-hop and R&B artists including, R-Kelly, Jay-Z, Faith Evans, Lil Kim, Too $hort, LOX and Mase. Of course Puffy made his presence felt, more so here than Ready to Die. Here he deserves thanks for producing and starring in the album's biggest hit singles, “Hypnotise”, (#2 – Billboard 100) “Mo' Money Mo' Problems” (#1 – Billboard 100) and “Sky's The Limit”. The 1997 Billboard Awards awarded Life After Death with R&B Album of the Year. It also won the MTV Video Music Award for "Best Rap Video," and two ASCAP Awards. By 2000 it was certified diamond by the RIAA, (only six other rap albums have ever been certified diamond.) Despite the glittery successes the album garnered, Life After Death tipped the scales to a new heavyweight class of hip-hop.
"The stakes were raised," before B.I.G., you might put out anything, now you knew, okay, it's real out there, you gotta come correct, 'cause this cat is spending time on his shit."
- Wu-Tang Clan founder and producer RZA.
The void left behind by the immeasurable presence of Biggie Smalls was patched with remixed, re-mastered and recycled lyrics in new mixtape-like releases until 1999 when Bad Boy dropped the third studio album of Big aptly named, Born Again. Given more credit than a 3 R's album, Born Again came with unreleased tracks sharing the spotlight with guest spots by Busta Rhymes, Redman, Method Man, Missy Elliott and Ice Cube plus more in what many considered a copycat posthumous album to that of Tupac's resurrection, Makaveli. Nevertheless the original recordings of Biggie's lyrics were produced into collaboration joints by none other than running-mate, Puff Daddy. The Billboard 200 had it at number one Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums had it also peaked at number one. The encore of Born Again celebrated the recording life of Notorious BIG with nothing short of class. Continued duets, remixes and remastered projects of his works drop to the streets with great reaction. The life of Bad Boy Records rode on the might and reputation that Biggie carried.
Biggie's last A&R recruitment was the super group, The Commission consisting of himself, Jay-Z, Lil Cease, Diddy and Charli Baltimore. The Commission was mentioned through the lyrics of Biggie's “What's Beef” track from Life After Death and Diddy's No Way Out album's “Victory”. The only released recording of the group came from The Duets album from 2005 with, “Whatchu Want (The Commission)” featuring Jay-Z. A clothing line was also released before he was laid out called Brooklyn Mint which honed in on the plus size market, this project never took off due to his untimely passing. Since then, managers Mark Pitts and Wayne Barrow launched the same line of clothing with help from mogul, Jay-Z. Proceeds from t-shirt sales went toward the Christopher Wallace Foundation and Jigga's Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation. His mother, Voletta Wallace hired branding and licensing agency, Wicked Cow Entertainment to oversee the company's legalities. Products also released were action figures, blankets and mobile phone content. The Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation annually holds, "B.I.G. Night Out" (a black-tie dinner) in aid of the children's school equipment and supplies as well as honouring the memory of the late rapper. For this particular event, because it is a children's schools' charity, "B.I.G." is also said to stand for "Books Instead of Guns".
Big Poppa remains one of the dopest hip-hop artists of all-time. Ten years down and posthumously Biggie is remembered through his lyrically flawless aptitude behind the mic. Frank White, the King of New York dominated the industry like Bill Russell did boards. His short recording life was magnified by the incredible success that preceded him. In three short years he rose from Carolina hustlin' to become the face of hip-hop for the eastern conference of rap music. He quietened the upstart West and held down Bed-Stuy Brooklyn like Fort Knox. Big Poppa is today honoured through various Industry awards. MTV Video Music Awards, 2005 saw Bad Boy Records CEO, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Snoop Dogg pay homage to the fallen relic. An orchestra played to the tunes of “Juicy” and “Warning” with his vocals through the arena speakers. Later September, 2005 at the second VH1 Hip-Hop Honors Big headlined the show's honourees. The legend of Notorious B.I.G. lives and breathes everyday through hip-hop, a man to be admired, artist to be revered. We'll always love Big Poppa, Thanks Diddy.
- 1994 Ready To Die (Chart position: 13) RIAA certification: 4x Platinum
- 1997 Life After Death (Chart position: 1) RIAA certification: Diamond (10x Platinum)
- 1999 Born Again (Chart position: 1) RIAA certification: 2x Platinum
- 2005 Duets: The Final Chapter (Chart position: 3) RIAA certification: Platinum
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