Friday, January 16, 2009

Sky's The Limit

Fast-forward to the mid-90s. A feud erupted in rap between East and West coasts that would claim the lives of two of the game's best MC's.

I'm not gonna get into specifics, because there's so much speculation and I'm focusing on the music, but '96 and '97 were two of the saddest years hip-hop has ever seen with the murders of Tupac and Biggie.

Big's dual-disc second LP Life After Death dropped March 25, 1997, a mere two weeks after he was fatally shot in Las Vegas. It sold almost 700,000 copies the first week and has since been certified diamond (10 million sales) by the RIAA, one of only 3 hip-hop albums to do so.

Life After Death followed a natural progression from Ready to Die - Big was the kingpin in charge rather than the nickle-and-dime hustler, as expressed on "10 Crack Commandments" and "I Love The Dough." Big maintained his lyrical prowess on "Going Back To Cali" and "Kick in the Door" but still realized his time was limited on darker tracks like "My Downfall" and "You're Nobody Til Somebody Kills You."

With the help of Puffy, the album also shifted Big's East Coast hardcore rap to a more commercialized sound, resulting in huge hit single "Mo Money Mo Problems."

My personal favorite tracks are the inspirational "Sky is the Limit" with 112, the knock-out "Long Kiss Goodnight," the lyrical schooling "Notorious Thugs" with Bone Thugs N Harmony, and one of the best storytelling songs I've ever heard "Got A Story To Tell."

Still, Life After Death is a bittersweet piece of art. First, it captures Big at the height of his career enjoying the life he earned for himself, evoked a sense of hope and enlightenment. But there's a lingering emotion of despair throughout, which culminates as Big unfortunately foresees his inevitable demise.

Track List:

Disc 2
1. Life After Death Intro
2. Somebody's Gotta Die
3. Hypnotize
4. Kick in the Door
5. #! *@ You Tonight
6. Last Day
7. I Love the Dough
8. What's Beef?
9. B.I.G. Interlude
10. Mo Money Mo Problems
11. Niggas Bleed
12. I Got a Story to Tell

Disc 2
1. Notorious Thugs
2. Miss U
3. Another
4. Going Back to Cali
5. Ten Crack Commandments
6. Playa Hater
7. Nasty Boy
8. Sky's the Limit
9. The World Is Filled...
10. My Downfall
11. Long Kiss Goodnight
12. You're Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)

No comments:

Post a Comment