Ten years! It's been ten years, but there's still no closure. He's idolized by fans worldwide, spraypainted on everything from walls to t-shirts, but all we've truly got left are a pair of classic albums and a couple posthumous releases to remember the man that was truly larger than life. Christopher Wallace, known to the world as Notorious B.I.G., is widely considered to be one of the greatest emcees ever. His stage presence and storytelling are arguably unparalleled. Leaving far less material behind than his peer Tupac Shakur, however, it's unfortunate that we don't have more to remember Biggie by.
Biggie's Greatest Singles?
Like nearly all compilations, this one has got its ups and downs: on the one hand, it features such classic, radio-friendly tunes as "Juicy" and "Hypnotize." On the other, it"s ridden with songs that should have completely been left off. Take "Nasty Girl" for instance: it's evident that there is a difference between a "single" and a "hit." Combs pushed for "Nasty Girl" as a single from the Duets album because he clearly believed it had a commercial sound: and that's for sure, Puff knows how to pick a catchy single. But does it make the song one of Biggie's Greatest? I think not. This compilation is clearly treated with such disregard as evidenced by the fact that Puff didn't even think to remove the ad-libbed introduction to "Nasty Girl" in which Jazze Pha spurts the name of Diddy's previous cash-in project: The Biggie Duets!
Puff does his best to try to balance the content on the album though. He's added essential radio tracks like "Big Poppa" and "One More Chance," while including dark narratives such as "N****s Bleed" and "Ten Crack Commandments." This is great and all but once again we face the dilemma as to what is considered a "hit." If "Dead Wrong" is on this album, then surely such classics as "Goin' Back to Cali," "Mo Money Mo Problems," "Party & Bulls**t," and "Sky's the Limit" made the cut as well, right? Dead wrong! All four of the aforementioned timeless songs are mysteriously absent. This can mean only one thing: this isn't a proper greatest hits compilation; it's the mix of songs a kid who's unfamiliar with Biggie's soundscape decided to put onto his iPod because he heard they were good. They say sometimes the truth hurtsâ€¦well, now is one of those times.
The one, (well, technically two) redeeming factors of this compilation are the pair of previously "unreleased" cuts--"Want That Old Thing Back" and "Running Your Mouth"--which feature the likes of Snoop Dogg, Fabolous, Busta Rhymes, Ja Rule and more. But read between the lines: these are tracks which were essentially left on the cutting room floor from the bloated Duets project. Not only that, they were both leaked onto mix tapes at around the same time. Who is Mr. Combs trying to fool?
The Bottom Line on Biggie's Greatest Hits
Forget this compilation and take my advice, if you really want to enjoy a true selection of "Greatest Hits," put both Ready to Die and Life after Death on shuffle and vibe for a couple hours. Not only will you be glad that you saved the money, but more importantly you'll be proud of the fact that you possess two classic, nearly flawless hip-hop albums: the two albums to which Biggie's high esteem is accredited to. Rest in peace BIG!