It’s hard to believe that its been a decade since we last heard Biggie Smalls and his notorious “Uh uhs” in real life. The memory of when I first heard the news is still vivid. My dad was over to take my sister and me for the weekend and I barely reached the kitchen when he told me that the Notorious B.I.G. was dead. To say the moment felt surreal would be understatement.
I just bought the recent issue of The Source the night before with Biggie on the cover and a great feature article where he talked about how he was coming back for his number one spot. My last thought before going to sleep was, he was coming back and no rapper could come close to stopping him. Everything about him seemed larger than life, the rhymes, the flow, the suits, the way he took care everyone, how personable he was on camera and then suddenly it all stopped.
“The Greatest Rapper of All Time died on March 9th”
-Canibus “Second Round Knockout”
People will debate who the greatest rapper of all time is until they are blue in the face, but everyone will agree that Biggie Smalls was the illest. It was an arduous task but I made a list of the ten best Biggie verses of all time. Some people’s favorites were left out, and I apologize. Biggie probably deserves three or four top ten lists. The hardest omissions were “Mo Money Mo Problems”, the storytelling verses like “I Got a Story to Tell” and “Niggas Bleed”, the sentimental “Sky’s The Limit”, the underrated “Everyday Struggle”, the cult classic “Last Days”, guest appearances like “Get Money” and “Benjamins”, and my favorite line ever from the track “Ready to Die” where Big rapped “I got techniques dripping out my butt cheeks / Sleep on my stomach so I don’t fuck up my sheets”.
10. “Flava In Ya Ear (remix)”
Niggaz is mad I get more butts than ashtrays
I see the gimmicks, the wack lyrics / That shit is depressing, pathetic, please forget it / Mad cause my style you admiring / Don’t be mad UPS is hiring
Whoever thought it was a good idea to start this posse cut mad a big mistake. Biggie stole the show and made the other rappers look average including the extra animated Busta Rhymes (and you know how I feel about the Dungeon Dragon and Posse Cuts). Craig Mack and Big put Bad Boy on the map and it was only fitting that they remixed (considering they invented the remix) one of their earliest hits.
9. 1st Verse “Long Kiss Goodnight”
I make your mouth piece obese like Della Reese
You know the rules / Went from BK to New Jeruze / Look at the planes we flew / Bitches we ran through / Now the year’s new / I want my spot back, take two
After his car accident, Biggie was hospitalized for a few weeks and watched a lot of movies. One of his favorites was “Long Kiss Goodnight” with Geena Davis and Samuel Jackson. He was often accompanied by his then girlfriend who was looking to become a rapper. Big suggested that she take the name of Geena Davis’ character in the movie, Charlie Baltimore. I did not include the verse because of the story but instead because of the hunger Biggie rapped with on the first verse. He was telling all other rappers that they were playing for second place.
8. 1st Verse “Dead Wrong”
Relax and take notes, while I take tokes of the marijuana smoke / Throw you in a choke gun smoke, gun smoke
I guess I was a combination of House of Pain and Bobby Brown / I was “Humpin Around” and “Jump in Around” / Jacked her then I asked her who’s the man; she said, “B I G” / Then I bust in her E Y E
Everything about this verse is aggressive including the way he delivered his lines. Biggie had pretty graphic and excessively violent lyrics but this could top them all. Some people may have problems with the content of his lyrics but those same people probably loved the Oscar winner for best picture, Martin Scorcese’s “The Departed”. He was not Mos Def or Chuck D but he was great at what he did.
7. 1st Verse “Kick In The Door”
Your reign on the top was short like Leprechauns / As I crush so called willies, thugs, and rapper dons
You should know my steelo / Went from 10 g’s for blow / To thirty g’s a show / To orgies with hoes I’ve never seen before
This was the only Biggie verse to earn The Source’s monthly Hip Hop Quotable. He was mad that Nas and Prodigy had gotten it three times each even though Biggie won Lyricist of the Year at The Source Awards. Although they were a little late, The Source finally rewarded him. At the time Nas was coming hard for the crown, and many (including Nas) believe that the song was a subliminal dis toward Nas, specifically the lines “MCs used to be on some buddy shit / Now they on some money shit / Successful out the blue”. It could also be directed at De La Soul and Trugoy who seemingly took a shot at him on “Stakes Is High”. Either way Big flexed his muscle over a signature Premier beat.
6. 1st Verse “Who Shot Ya”
Who shot ya? / Seperate the weak from the ob solete /Hard to creep them Brooklyn streets / It’s on nigga, fuck all that bickering beef / I can hear sweat trickling down your cheek / Your heartbeat sound like Sasquatch feet / Thundering, shaking the concrete
I burn baby burn like Disco Inferno / Burn slow like blunts with ya yo / Peel more skins than Idaho potato / Niggaz know, the lyrical molestin’ is takin’ place / Fuckin’ with B.I.G. it ain’t safe
Tupac dis? Biggie always denied it, but there are plenty of lines to believe otherwise (and Tupac certainly did). Regardless, “the lyrical molestin” was in full effect as the Notorious crushed every other rapper in his path.
5. 3rd Verse “Juicy”
Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis / When I was dead broke I couldn’t picture this
Birthdays was the worst days / Now we sip champagne when we thirsty
The 1st verse arguably deserves to make the list as well, but I did not want to include more than one verse from the same song, so it can only earn an honorable mention. The first line is obviously dated but in 1994 if you had both Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis you were on top of the world. Not to mention being able to play Street Fighter II on an 80 inch screen like they do in the “Juicy” video. In the second line Biggie rhymes “days” and “thirsty” to put a cap on the rags to riches story. Who else could rhyme those two words? Just plain sick.
4. 1st Verse “Unbelievable”
Live from Bedford Stuyvesant The Livest one / Representing BK to the fullest / Gats I pull it bastards ducking when Big be bucking / Chickenheads be cluckin’ in my bathroom fuckin’
And those that rushes my clutches get put on crutches / Get smoked like Dutches from the master
Premier says that it was actually Biggie’s idea to sample an R. Kelly song to create the beat just like Jay-Z suggested to 9th Wonder when he produced “Threat” for The Black Album. It was also the first song played from The Ready to Die album on NY radio stations. After doing “Party and Bullshit” and plenty of guest appearances Biggie announced his arrival with lyrical prowess and intimidation not heard since Big Daddy Kane and Kool G. Rap.
3. “Notorious Thugs”
Armed and dangerous, ain’t too many can bang with us / Straight up weed, no angel dust, label us Notorious / Thug ass niggaz that love to bust, it’s strange to us / Y’all niggaz be scramblin, gamblin / Up in restaurants with mandolins, and violins / We just sittin here tryin to win, tryin not to sin / High off weed and lots of gin / So much smoke need oxygen, steadily countin them Benjamins
When I was asking my friends their favorite verses from Biggie this was always the first or second one mentioned. Usually I have hard time understanding the words in a Bone Thugs and Harmony song but Big completely adapted to their style and delivered, arguably, his most memorable verse. No one could switch their style as effortlessly as the Notorious B.I.G.
2. 1st Verse “Victory”
Rhyme a few bars so I can buy a few cars / Then I kick a few flows so I can pimp a few hoes / Excellence is my presence never tense / Never hesitant leave a nigga bent real quick / Real sick, brawl nights, I perform like Mike / Anyone – Tyson, Jordan, Jackson / Action, pack guns, ridiculous / And I am quick to bust if my ends you touch
The Rocky sample probably helps, but the verse has an epic feeling to it like a Jerry Bruckheimer action scene. Not only did Biggie write Puffy’s lyrics for the song, but he also went into the booth and recorded the vocals. All Diddy had to do was repeat what Biggie was saying in the same he was saying. This should have been on Life After Death as a solo song.
1. “Freestyle at MSG” w/ Big Daddy Kane, Scoob, Shyheim, and Tupac
I got 7 Mac-11’s / About eight 38s / Nine 9s, 10 Mac Tens / The shit never ends / You can’t touch my riches / Even if you had MC Hammer and them 357 bitches
Oh my God I’m dropping shit like a pigeon / I hope your listening / Smacking babies at their christening
The first few lines showcase Biggie’s one of a kid wit. After using four gun references, he quickly jumps to his “riches” and then brings it all together with “MC Hammer and them 357 bitches”. Hammer was the first rap to really become rich. With all of his money he put on ridiculous stage shows including female dancers called 357. At the same time Biggie was talking about guns again because of the 357 Magnum and “hammer” being another term for a gun. Listen to the crowd after he finishes that line because they go absolutely crazy.