Wax Poetics—one of the few music magazines I think matters these days—and WhoSampled‘s DJ Chris Reed present another 20th anniversary album tribute remix. The object of affection this time around is Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die. These cats are too generous; my heart is still reeling from their Tribe Called Quest Midnight Maruaders jawn.
I was in a barber shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn when I heard Ready to Die for the first time. Park Slope, while fully gentrified back then, was still a very different neighborhood from what it is today, and East Coast Rap’s reputation for carrying the crown was under attack by the media at the same time, where the latter held up the West Coast’s style as Rap’s new creative nexus.
As a local, I’ve always been cool with East Coast Rap, but I understood how despite the appeal of tight production and head-nodding beats, lyricists from the East—with their delivery dripping with hyper-local references wrapped in similes and metaphors—were not always understood by outsiders. In contrast, the West placed more emphasis on being understood by painting vivid stories about the good, the bad, and the violently ugly parts of their lives. Whether or not all of the stories of gore told by the West was irrelevant; the style attracted millions of voyeur fans who’ve been in a constant search for a clear window into how ‘those people’ live.
Biggie changed the geographical balance of attention with Ready to Die in the way he combined top-shelf lyricism with vivid storytelling. Plus, DJ Premier delivered a production masterpiece.
I think you’ll dig this 20 anniversary remix. Just like Quest’s 20th anniversary nod, B.I.G.’s songs are mixed together with the original tunes that were sampled. that means there’s something in this set your parents or grandparents could relate to.
Click the media below or click here to listen…