- 1 Notorious Big Greatest Hits
- 2 Bonus- “It’s All About the Benjamins (Remix)”
Notorious Big Greatest Hits
Decades after Biggie Smalls’ death, his narrative mastery, linguistic joy, and dizzyingly rhythmic flows are still unsurpassed. The Notorious B.I.G.’s greatest hits still ring bells in rap today. Many newer rappers sample his music, flow, style, and sound. Despite his relatively short career, his hip-hop discography is legendary nonetheless.
Let’s revisit some of the top tracks by Biggie Smalls in honor of his untimely passing. Other rap legends, like Tupac, who died a year before, Biggie’s best songs were severely amplified after his death. With the first song on this list, “Juicy,” you can see an entire Brooklyn neighborhood singing Biggie’s lyrics during the pandemic in 2020.
Celebrate the Legacy of the Notorious B.I.G.
Puff Daddy smoothed out some of Ready to Die’s grit, but “Juicy” still showcases Biggie’s street-honed rapping skills. This timeless classic is a must-listen for any fan of the Bad Boy legend.
A rap anthem that made the Brooklyn-born star a household name, Juicy was one of the first mainstream rap songs to detail a rapper’s rise to fame. But its sultry beat is so smooth it transcends the music’s grittiest moments.
Puff enlisted Gang Starr’s sample-heavy mastermind D.J. Premier to create this sensual funk and R&B number. The result reaffirmed Biggie’s ability to switch from street-corner bravado to pure ear candy with the turn of a phrase. Even in 2020, Brooklyn natives hang on to his every word.
Despite the smoother vibe, Biggie wasn’t shy about addressing controversial topics in his lyrics. In this case, his line about blowing up like the World Trade Center towers lead to Sept. 11, 2001. Media companies re-edited Spider-Man trailers, and Rockstar delayed Grand Theft Auto III to remove its mission involving terrorists. Nevertheless, this timeless gem is one of The Notorious B.I.G.’s greatest hits.
A certified classic, “Unbelievable” distilled Biggie’s persona into one of hip-hop’s most enduring calling cards. As Bed-Stuy promenades and project-hallway taunts collide, he eschews the self-congratulation of the slacker MC in favor of gun-waving punchlines and glowering internal rhymes that illuminate his Brooklyn roots.
Backed by D.J. Premier’s booming, bass-heavy production, it’s easy to imagine the MC as the livest Brooklyn hustler in his gloomily triumphant chorus!
The album balanced Top 40 radio ambition with street realness. This song clearly articulated how his Bad Boy era merged the two. “Unbelievable” is easily one of the top tracks by Biggie Smalls.
With its abundant production, “Hypnotize” showcases the evolution of Biggie’s persona. It’s transitioning from the street survivalism of Ready to Die into mafioso narratives behind large Versace shades. The song’s groovy bassline exudes sex, mayhem, and dark wit equally.
Puff Daddy convinced Biggie to let go of his hard-edge East Coast rap on this summer jam. This quickly became a summertime classic and one of Biggie’s best songs. Its earworm hook speaks to its lasting appeal, and the song’s broad appeal speaks to its creator’s mastery of various sonic styles.
The song also presaged his ability to operate as a commercial hitmaker and a complex poet. Before Biggie, there has never been a rapper as adept at both. Hip-hop has transformed dozens of times in the decades since the ’90s, yet every permutation carries The Notorious B.I.G.’s D.N.A.
4. “Sky’s the Limit”
This infectious club banger reaffirmed Biggie’s rapping prowess. With a beat from producer Stevie J and an unforgettable hook by Faith Evans, it topped the charts and was one of his biggest hits. Christopher George Latore Wallace was a prominent East Coast rapper who influenced the genre’s post-gangsta era. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers of all time.
Biggie’s greatest hits compilation features hits from his final two albums, Ready to Die and Life After Death. It was released three days before the tenth anniversary of his death in 2007. The album’s popular 180g vinyl reissue features classics like “Juicy” and “Big Poppa.” A true hip-hop legend with an unquestionable discography.
5. “You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)”
“You’re Nobody” showcases the full spectrum of Biggie Smalls, from certified mack to raconteur to English language-loving street rhymer to venerable elder of the bodega cipher.
Despite a desire to focus on hard-edge East Coast rap, Puff convinced Biggie to do a cover of the soulful R&B hit “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You.”
He adapted the song well with his trademark laid-back flow and biting lyricism, which is one of Bad Boy’s most iconic hits. It also lays out a vital theme of the album, with Biggie calling out his rivals with ruthless bravado. It’s a track proving his legacy was as much a force for good as evil.
6. “It’s All About the Benjamins”
In hip-hop history, few rappers can match The Notorious B.I.G.’s wordplay. He was a certified Mack, an influential street poet, and a master of English language lyrics. “It’s All About the Benjamins” reestablished East Coast dominance and created chart-topping hits for mainstream audiences while still providing hardcore rappers with their fix.
This song is a must-listen for any hip-hop fan.
The remix was also one of the first of Bad Boy’s stacked feature tracks, which showcased the label’s ability to present R&B and rap as natural complementing flavors. The result was a gangsta classic that would become an earworm for decades. It’s a testament to his enduring legacy that this song is still as popular today as ever.
7. “Get Money”
Atop a sultry sample from the ’70s funk band Black Heat, this smooth track showcases Biggie’s ability to thrive under various sonic styles. The song’s earworm hook is one of his most famous, but his narrative mastery and linguistic joy are equally evident.
Biggie got convinced by Puff to let him do this cinematic number. It reveals him to be a fearless lyrical assassin with quick-fire barbs that still feel fresh decades later.
One of Biggie’s best songs, “Get Money,” retains its brutally honest lyrics. Lyrics about the Brooklyn streets, money, drugs, and gunplay. They are a reminder of why Biggie is considered one of the greatest M.C.s of all time. It also proves he was fearless in tackling any topic, as demonstrated on the next track. Within 30 seconds of listening, you’ll understand why this is among The Notorious B.I.G.’s greatest hits.
8. “Going Back to Cali”
This song, produced by Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, showcases Biggie’s lyrical prowess. Its narrative is a cautionary tale about jealousy and betrayal that captures the essence of the ’90s hip-hop scene.
Though Biggie wanted his debut album Ready to Die to focus on hard-edge East Coast rap, Puff convinced him to let him go all-in with this sensual track that features a sample of Isley Brothers’ “Between the Sheets.” It became yet another one of the summertime jams of the 90s.
Backed by a cinematic beat produced by D.J. Premier and hard-hitting lyrics, this song stands out from Biggie’s sophomore effort, Life After Death. It’s also one of the most controversial songs in hip-hop history. You can probably see why Biggie’s hip-hop discography is unmatched.
Bonus- “It’s All About the Benjamins (Remix)”
Biggie’s effortless flow over the Isley Brothers’ quiet-storm classic is a testament to how the Brooklyn rapper carried himself with such a respected authority. His slick, sultry delivery is reminiscent of a smoky jazz club, yet it’s dripping with the street-cred he earned as the eminence grit of every bodega cipher.
Puff Daddy paired Biggie with R&B trio Total for this infectious hit that showcased the rapper’s ability to merge new jack swing with his Brooklyn street cred. The song’s uplifting melodies and unforgettable hook by Faith Evans helped it to reach No. 1 and become one of Bad Boy’s biggest hits.
On this slick, laid-back track, Biggie showcases his mastery of the slow jam with a narrative about jealousy and betrayal. It’s the kind of street-smart storytelling that elevated his reputation after Tupac’s death.
This posthumous compilation is an essential primer for the Notorious Big’s tragically short career. It showcases his lyrical prowess, charisma, and Sean “Puffy” Combs’ new ear for beats. It also exemplifies the Bad Boy era, when R&B and rap became two naturally complementing flavors. Take a break and listen to The Notorious B.I.G.’s greatest hits. Long live the legacy of Biggie Smalls.