“Yo we’re not here to preach, because we’re not ministers…” If you know that bar you were born into hip hop. If you don’t it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t hip hop. It’s just that you don’t know hip hop. But you have Google so it doesn’t really matter. I’m just kidding. It matters, but only in an esoteric sense. Anyways, that bar was from MC Ren on “We’re All in the Same Gang.” That’s MC Ren from NWA, MVP of the EFIL4ZAGGIN album, you non hip hop knowing motherfakers.
If you don’t know anything about myself and @themisterceizzo, do know that we got the, we got the, we got the, we got the vibes. We don’t mean any harm, really. We don’t wish bad on anyone. We just wanna do our thing. We just want our place at the table. It seems like “they” don’t want us at the table; they don’t even want us to have a plate. But see, the thing is, we don’t give a fuck. We’re gonna push through regardless of who is in front of us. No man, no army, no mountain shall deter or daunt us. We’re ultra-focused, we are at a superior talent level to our competition, and we outwork anyone on or off the clock. It’s our time. We don’t mind breaking bread with others, but if that’s not an option, we don’t mind taking all the sustenance from your circumference until you die of famine. We will Charles Darwin all over your area with no second thoughts. So either get down, or lay down. We’re talking to you, Hollywood. When it comes to the hood, from Uptown to Englewood to VA to Italy and back, ain’t nothing but love with us and vice versa. We got crazy love for the hood and all who inhabit it forever plus one day. It’s you MF we don’t like. You stifle good talent (especially black) and feed us crumbs every year. It’s time you open the door up for the new jacks outchea. Your time and way of thinking is about over. We’re up next. You’ve been fairly warned. Watch us work.
Seventeen years to today, the great, late Christopher Wallace released his seminal double LP, Life After Death, the follow up to his multiplatinum, classic smash release Ready to Die. The release came sixteen days after his tragic and untimely death in Los Angeles. The Notorious BIG was arguably at the top of his career, though it seemed that he was destined for even greater heights. I won’t get into his life or death in this blog; I’ll stick to the album. I still remember 3.25.1997 like it was yesterday, and the events leading up to it…
What hurt so much about the album was the fact that after such unparalleled anticipation, the album was actually better than what we even expected. This may sound crazy, but the greatness of the album was a constant and somber reminder that we had heard all that we would hear from the Notorious, glorious. I remember BIG’s interview with Joe Claire on Rap City at some park in Los Angeles days before he passed. BIG continually expressed his desire for the project to be released, he had total confidence and faith that once his shit hit the streets, any ill will or doubt would be forgiven and erased. He realized that the East Coast/West Coast “war” was in fact a war of attrition that had already been tragic. He didn’t wanna see Pac’s fate. He knew he had so much more to give the game, to give the culture. He knew everything. Oh yeah…the slogan for the album campaign? March 25th…think BIG.
On March 25, 1997, my brother Robert “St. Louis” Glaspy, copped a fresh copy of LAD from one of the yard’s (Virginia Union University, Panther Pride) many entrepreneurs, who had stolen an entire UPS box and was selling the double LP for $10. “Louie,” myself, and about ten of our freshman Huntley crew crowded into Louie and Justin’s room and listened to both discs, start to finish. I don’t even really remember a word being uttered the entire 109:12, outside an “oh shit!,” “wow,” or “damn!” It was that amazing. And, seventeen years later, it still is that amazing.
Many say that disc 1 of LAD was better than the entire All Eyez On Me. I find that to be completely disrespectful, and completely biased from a coastal stand point. Anyway, those words were uttered back then. I haven’t heard any of that talk in years. The intro was crazy. Puff knows how to inject maximum drama into a track. He did an excellent job on the intro. BIG finesses “Somebody’s Gotta Die” as only Frank White could, making revenge and murder into a bedtime story of sorts. “Hypnotize” was the lead single, it was played three times consecutive moments before BIG left that after party and was slain. The video was $1,000,000, back when big budgets were the norm. “Kick In The Door” was BIG’s then unknown competitive “diss” record for Nas, his friend and key competition for King of New York. “Fuck You Tonight” was my personal favorite, a smooth ass collaboration with Robert Kelly. From then on the disc maintained its staying power, with guest appearances from the LOX, Jigga, Mase Murda and Puff, but the highlights of the disc were “Niggas Bleed” and “I Got a Story to Tell,” brilliant narratives from the best storyteller since Slick Rick.
Disc 2 just continued the flow. “Notorious Thugs” featured Bone Thug -n- Harmony, a track in which BIG borrowed a bit of Bone’s flow and freaked it to perfection. Sadly, “Miss U,” a ballad for his dead homie and home girl, was played at his own wake. “Going Back to Cali” was BIG’s way of basically giving the west coast his ass to kiss in a flashy manner. “Ten Crack Commandments” was arguably the masterpiece of the disc, as the BIG fella brilliantly gave ten rules to running a successful and profitable yola enterprise to Chuck D’s voice sample from “Shut Em Down.” “Sky is the Limit” was a great inspirational song that featured a memorable hook from 112. The video was original and great. “The World Is Filled” was pimp tight. “My Downfall” was a leaked track (this is the first album I can remember a track being leaked from) that still slapped hard AF when the album came out. I just wished Puff would STFU. Ironically, the disc ended with “You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You),” a song that featured his then wife Faith Evans.
Many argue about whether LAD was as good as or better than RTD. I don’t even entertain that argument. They were both dynamic. On RTD you could hear BIG’s hunger in every bar. He was just a broke nigga trying survive in the ghetto. On LAD, you could hear the voice of a man who had made it, a man that was living the American dream, and enjoying every minute of it. I love what the Source said about the album (they gave it a perfect 5 mic rating, back before they sold their soul to Benzino). They said the irony of LAD was that it would be remembered as much for its radio/commercial trax as it would for its “album classics” (songs which are never released as singles but are just as popular to fans as singles). I agree. That’s what made the BIG fella so special. He mastered every degree. Rest in peace to the only King of New York I ever recognized, the notorious, glorious Francis MH White.
Send all love/hate mail to email@example.com. Follow me on the twitter @tymonday, as well as my bro @themisterceizzo and squadron @crewunB. Pick up some of our fly apparel while you’re on the site. We’re gonna make summer 2014 and unbearable one. To the projects I’m ghost, trill niggas, one love.