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Life After Death
Studio album by The Notorious B.I.G.
Released March 25, 1997
Recorded September 1995-1997
Genre Hip hop
Length 109:12
Label Bad Boy
Producer Sean "Puffy" Combs (exec.), The Hitmen, Buckwild, Clark Kent, Easy Mo Bee, Havoc, Daron Jones, Kay Gee, DJ Premier, RZA
The Notorious B.I.G. chronology
Ready to Die
(1994)
Life After Death
(1997)
Born Again
(1999)
Singles from Life After Death
  1. "Hypnotize"
    Released: April 21, 1997
  2. "Mo Money Mo Problems"
    Released: July 21, 1997
  3. "Sky's the Limit"
    Released: November 25, 1997

Life After Death is the second and final studio album by American rapper The Notorious B.I.G., released March 25, 1997 on Bad Boy Records. A double album, it was released posthumously following his death on March 9, 1997 and serves as his final studio album. The album is the follow-up to The Notorious B.I.G.'s debut album, Ready to Die (1994), and it features collaborations with guest artists such as 112, Jay-Z, Lil Kim, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, R. Kelly, The LOX, Kelly Price, and Puff Daddy. Life After Death exhibits The Notorious B.I.G. further delving into the mafioso rap subgenre. His lyrics on the album depict him as a crime, kingpin character living a Scarface/Casino-esque lifestyle.

Life After Death was released to a significant amount of critical praise and commercial success. In 2000, the album was certified diamond in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) (one of only 3 hip hop albums to receive this certification), and it has been credited as the one of the best-selling rap albums of all time. It also made the largest jump to number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in history, jumping from number 176 to number 1 in one week. The album was nominated for three Grammy Awards in 1998, including Best Rap Album, Best Rap Solo Performance for its first single "Hypnotize", and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for its second single "Mo Money Mo Problems". Along with Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… (1995), Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt (1996), and Nas' It Was Written (1996) Life After Death has been considered by music writers as one of the seminal mafiaso rap albums, as well as a milestone in hip hop music.

Contents

Conception

Background

Two and a half years prior to the album's release, The Notorious B.I.G. had married Faith Evans, became East Coast's icon in the East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry and made guest appearances on albums by Jay-Z and Luke amongst others. Two weeks prior to the album's release, The Notorious B.I.G. was shot and killed. The album sold 690,000 copies in its first week and was Certified Diamond in 2000.

Beef References and Subliminal Disses

Many songs on both discs contain subtle references to B.I.G.'s rivals.

Kick In The Door

The track "Kick In The Door" is directed at Nas, Jeru the Damaja, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah and even the track's producer DJ Premier. The subliminal messages had been speculated by listeners and confirmed by artists on several occasions, including XXL Magazine's April 2003 edition "The Making of: Life After Death".

In the "The Making of: Life After Death" Nashiem Myrick reveals that the second verse has lines directed at Jeru the Damaja & DJ Premier[1]: "Nas said that record was for him, but when Big said, “Son, I’m surprised you run with them/I think they got cum in them, ’cause they nothin’ but dicks,” he was talking about Jeru the Damaja to Premo ’cause Jeru was going at Big and Puff and all them [with the Premier-produced “One Day” in Jeru's album Wrath of the Math]."

The third verse opens very clearly with B.I.G.'s statement:

This goes out for those that choose to use
disrespectful views on the King of NY

The line after that "Fuck that, why try, throw bleach in your eye" is a reference to Raekwon's jab on the track "Ice Water" from Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... where Raekwon raps

That's life, to top it all off, beef for white
pullin bleach out tryin to throw it in my eyesight

The lines on the final verse are likely directed at Nas as a reference to Nas challenging The Notorious B.I.G. for the title of King of N.Y.[2] in the song "The Message" from the album It Was Written in which Nas raps

Yo let me let y'all niggaz know one thing
There's one life, one love, so there can only be one King

Biggie struck back with the lines:

Its ill when, MC's used to be on cruddy shit
Took home, Ready to Die, listened, studied shit
Now they on some money shit, successful out the blue
They light weight, fragilly, my nine milly
make the white shake, thats why my money never funny
And you still recoupin, stupid

Nas has touched on the track on his album God's Son. Here Nas states:

Y'all don't know about my Biggie wars
Who you thought 'Kick In The Door' was for?

And finally commenting on the whole situation with Ghostface and Raekwon:

BIG was ahead of his time, him and Raekwon my niggaz
But dig it, they couldn't get along
That's when Ghostface said it on the Purple Tape
Bad Boy biting Nas album cover, wait??
BIG told me Rae was stealing my slang
And Rae told me out in Shaolin BIG would do the same thing

Long Kiss Goodnight

It was also speculated by many listeners that the song "Long Kiss Goodnight" is a diss towards 2Pac and Death Row Records C.E.O. Suge Knight although at the time it was denied due to the sensitive nature of both rapper's recent deaths. However, Lil' Cease, a close friend of Biggie and a member of Junior M.A.F.I.A. claimed the following in XXL Magazine April 2003 issue about Long Kiss Goodnight: "That was about ’Pac. He had some shit at the beginning of that though, nobody heard it, on the reel. We had to change it. It was a little too much. I can’t remember what Big said about him, but it was terrible. It couldn’t make it. He didn’t want to do it. He had some fire. But he didn’t want to make it too much. He just wanted to address it and to let nigga know, “I know what’s going on, and I could get wreck if I want to.” Like, “If I really wanted to get on ya niggas, I could.”.[3]

A line in the first verse is aimed at 2Pac in reference to the November 1994 shooting at Quad Studios, he raps:

When my men bust you just move with such stamina
Slugs missed ya, I Ain't Mad at Cha (We Ain't Mad at Cha)

The last 2 verses in particular are directed towards Tupac:

I'm flaming gats, aimin at, these fuckin
maniacs, put my name in raps, what part the
game is that? Like they hustle backwards
I smoke Blackwoods and Dutchies, ya can't touch me
Try to rush me, slugs go, touchy-touchy
You're bleeding lovely, with your, spirit above me
or beneath me, your whole life you live sneaky
Now you rest eternally, sleepy, you burn when you creep me
Rest where the worms and the weak be

...

Slugs hit your chest tap your spine, flat line
Heard through the grapevine, you got fucked four times
Damn that three to nine, fucked you up for real doe
Sling steal slow, as for remorse, we feel no

The lines make reference to Tupac frequently mentioning Biggie by name in his raps (a practice that was not common at the time), and allegations spread by Wendy Williams (radio host) that he had been raped in his prison term at Rikers Island.

Other references

In the song "Notorious Thugs" B.I.G. refers to long time nemesis 2Pac in the line "so called beef with you-know-who.", calling the feud between him and Shakur 'bullshit', While Bone Thugs make disses towards Three 6 Mafia, Twista, Crucial Conflict and Do or Die.

"My Downfall", "Your Nobody Till Somebody Kills You", and "What's Beef" also contains lyrics allegedly aimed towards 2Pac.

To this day, Bad Boy denies that Biggie ever recorded a response track against 2Pac in fear of heightening East Coast-West Coast tensions.

Yet, on Jay-Z's 1996 album Reasonable Doubt, B.I.G. raps:

The two for five dollar hits, the blue tops
Gotta go, Coolio mean it's gettin "Too Hot"
If Fay' had twins, she'd probably have two-Pac's
Get it? .. Tu-pac's

The song "Can I Get Witcha", which was featured on Biggie's first posthumous album Born Again, also mentions 2Pac by name.

Reception

 Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[4]
Robert Christgau (A)[5]
Entertainment Weekly (C+)[6]
Los Angeles Times 4/4 stars[7]
New York Times (favorable)[8]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars 1997[9]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars 2004[10]
The Source 5/5 stars[11]
Stylus (favorable)[12]
USA Today 3.5/4 stars[13]

Since the album's release, it has been considered one of the greatest rap albums in hip hop history, and has also been a major influence on many rap artists.

Accolades

  • The information regarding accolades is adapted from AcclaimedMusic.net[14] accept for lists that are sourced otherwise.
  • (*) signifies unordered lists
Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
About.com United States 100 Greatest Hip Hop Albums [15] 2008 40
Addicted to noise United States Albums of the Year 1997 7
Blender United States The 100 Greatest American Albums of All time 2002 25
ego trip United States Hip Hop's 25 Greatest Albums by Year 1980-98 1999 1
Face United Kingdom Albums of the Year 1997 20
Hip Hop Connection United Kingdom The 100 Greatest Rap Albums 1995-2005 2005 14
The New Nation United Kingdom Top 100 Albums by Black Artists 60
OOR Moordlijst Netherlands Albums of the Year 1997 87
Pure Pop Mexico Albums of the Year 1997 18
Q United Kingdom Albums of the Year 1997 *
Rolling Stone United States The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 2003 483
Rolling Stone United States The Essential Recordings of the 90s 1999 *
The Source United states The 100 Best Rap Albums of All Time[16] 2005 8
The Source United States The Critics Top 100 Black Music Albums of All Time [17] 2005 60
Spex Germany Albums of the Year 1997 19
Spin United States Albums of the Year 1997 7
Various Writers United States 50 Years of Great Recordings 2005 *
Vibe United States 51 Albums representing a Generation, a Sound and a Movement 2004 4
Village Voice United States Albums of the Year 1997 12

Impact and influence

Though released in the wake of B.I.G.'s fatal shooting, Life After Death signaled a stylistic change in gangsta rap as it crossed over to the commercial mainstream. After the release of Life After Death, Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy Records continued to bring pop and gangsta rap closer together: the references to violence and drug dealing remained, as did the entire "gangsta" rhetoric, but the overall production style changed from the previously darker sound to a cleaner, sample-heavy, more upbeat sound that was directly fashioned for the mainstream pop charts, as seen in the single "Mo Money Mo Problems". The Notorious B.I.G. is often credited with initiating this transition, as he was among the first mainstream rappers to produce albums with a calculated attempt to include both gritty and realistic gangsta narratives as well as more radio-friendly productions. Much of the album is produced by Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie, Carlos "July Six" Broady, Ron "Amen-Ra" Lawrence, and Nashiem Myrick. However, other notable hip-hop producers such as Easy Mo Bee, DJ Premier and RZA contributed beats to the album as well.

Various artists were specifically influenced by several songs on Life After Death. Evidence's "Down in New York City" is essentially "Going Back to Cali" from the perspective of a West Coast artist. Jay-Z borrows four bars from "The World Is Filled..." in his song "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)," as well as the chorus from his song "Squeeze 1st" from "Hypnotize", a line in "The Ruler's Back" from "Kick in the Door" and "You're Nobody ('Til Somebody Kills You)" on "D.O.A." Ice Cube borrows the chorus from his song "Child Support" from "Kick in the Door."....

Track listing

Disc one

# Title Time Songwriters Producers Additional Performers Samples[18]
1 "Life After Death (Intro)"* 1:39 C. Wallace, S. Jordan, Sean Combs Sean "Puffy" Combs & Steven "Stevie J" Jordan for The Hitmen, co-produced by The Notorious B.I.G.
2 "Somebody's Gotta Die"* 4:26 C. Wallace, Sean Combs, A. Hester, Nasheim Myrick, Carlos Broady Nashiem Myrick, Carlos "6 July" Broady & Sean "Puffy" Combs for The Hitmen
3 "Hypnotize" 3:50 C. Wallace, R. Alpert, D. Angelettie, Andy Armer, Sean Combs, Ron Lawrence Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie, Ron "Amen-Ra" Lawrence & Sean "Puffy" Combs for The Hitmen Pamela Long
4 "Kick in the Door"* 4:47 C. Wallace, J. Hawkins, Chris E. Martin DJ Premier for Works of Mart Productions,Inc.
5 "Fuck You Tonight" 5:45 C. Wallace, Sean Combs, D. Jones, R. Kelly Daron Jones & Sean "Puffy" Combs for The Hitmen R. Kelly
6 "Last Day"* 4:19 C. Wallace, Kejuan Muchita, J. Phillips, Dorothy Stiles Havoc, co-produced by Sean "Puffy" Combs & Stevie J for The Hitmen Jadakiss, Styles P & Sheek Louch
7 "I Love the Dough"* 5:11 C. Wallace, S. Carter, O. Harvey, R. Moore, Angela Winbush Easy Mo Bee for Bee Mo Easy Productions,Inc. Jay-Z
  • Contains a sample of *"I Love You More" by Rene & Angela
  • Synth lead based on "Do You Think I'm Sexy" by Rod Stewart
8 "What's Beef?"* 5:15 C. Wallace, Carlos Broady,
Nasheim Myrick
Nashiem Myrick & Carlos "6 July" Broady for the Hitmen, co-produced by Paragon
  • Contains a sample of I'm Glad You're Mine by Al Green
  • Contains a sample of Can You Rock It Like This by Run DMC
9 "B.I.G. Interlude" 0:48 C. Wallace, D. Angelettie The Notorious B.I.G. & Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie for The Hitmen
  • Contains a sample of *"P.S.K. What Does It Mean?" by Schooly D
10 "Mo Money Mo Problems" 4:17 C. Wallace, M. Betha, Sean Combs, B.H. Edwards, S. Jordan, Nile Rodgers Steven "Stevie J" Jordan & Sean "Puffy" Combs for The Hitmen Puff Daddy, Mase & Kelly Price
11 "Niggas Bleed"* 4:51 C. Wallace, Sean Combs, S. Jordan, Nasheim Myrick Nashiem Myrick, Carlos "6 July" Broady & Steven "Stevie J" Jordan for The Hitmen
  • Contains a sample of "Hey Who Really Cares" by The Whispers
12 "I Got a Story to Tell"* 4:42 C. Wallace, A. Best Buckwild for Kurrup Money Entertainment, co-produced by Chucky Thompson & Sean "Puffy" Combs for The Hitmen,
  • Contains a sample of *"I'm Glad You're Mine" by Al Green

Disc two

# Title Time Songwriter(s) Producer(s) Additional Performers Sample(s)
1 "Notorious Thugs" 6:07 C. Wallace, Sean Combs, A. Henderson, S. Howse, S. Jordan, Bryon McCane Steven "Stevie J" Jordan & Sean "Puffy" Combs for The Hitmen Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
2 "Miss U" 4:58 C. Wallace, Kaygee Gist, Lionel Richie Kay Gee 112
  • Contains a sample of "Missing You" by Diana Ross
3 "Another" 4:15 C. Wallace, Sean Combs, N. Ingram, K. Jones, S. Jordan Steven "Stevie J" Jordan & Sean "Puffy" Combs for The Hitmen Lil' Kim
  • Contains a sample and interpolation of "Another Man" by Barbara Mason
4 "Going Back to Cali" 5:07 C. Wallace, O. Harvey, Roger Troutman Easy Mo Bee for Bee Mo Easy Productions,Inc.
  • Contains a sample of "More Bounce To The Ounce" by Zapp
5 "Ten Crack Commandments"* 3:24 C. Wallace, Chris E. Martin DJ Premier for Works of Mart Productions,Inc.
6 "Playa Hater" 3:57 C. Wallace, Sean Combs, W. Hart, S. Jordan Sean "Puffy" Combs & Steven "Stevie J" Jordan for The Hitmen
7 "Nasty Boy" 5:26 C. Wallace, Sean Combs, S. Jordan Sean "Puffy" Combs & Steven "Stevie J" Jordan for The Hitmen
8 "Sky's the Limit" 5:29 C. Wallace, Bobby Caldwell, Hubert Eaves, Clark Kent, J. Williams Clark Kent 112
9 "The World Is Filled..."* 4:54 C. Wallace, D. Angelette, Sean Combs, T. Shaw, K. Walker Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie & Sean "Puffy" Combs for The Hitmen Carl Thomas, Puff Daddy & Too Short
10 "My Downfall"* 5:26 C. Wallace, Carlos Broady, Sean Combs, Darryl McDaniels, Nasheim Myrick Carlos "6 July" Broady, Nashiem Myrick & Sean "Puffy" Combs for The Hitmen DMC
11 "Long Kiss Goodnight"* 5:18 C. Wallace, Robert Diggs RZA for Wu-Tang Productions
  • Contains a sample of "The Letter" by Al Green
  • Contains a sample of "The Letter" by Grant Green
12 "You're Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)" 4:52 C. Wallace, Sean Combs, Gary Johnson, S. Jordan, E. Lopez, B. Preston Sean "Puffy" Combs & Steven "Stevie J" Jordan for The Hitmen, co-produced by DJ Enuff & Jiv Poss Faith Evans

Songwriter(s) information taken from CD case.

( * ) song is not present on edited version of CD.

Chart history

Album
Chart (1997) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard 200 1
U.S. Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums 1
Canadian Albums chart 3
UK Albums chart 20
Australian ARIA Albums Chart 59[19]
Singles
Song Chart (1997) Peak
position
"Hypnotize" U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
"Hypnotize" U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 1
"Hypnotize" U.S. Hot Rap Tracks 1
"Hypnotize" Canadian Singles Chart 3
"Mo Money Mo Problems" U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
"Mo Money Mo Problems" U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 2
"Mo Money Mo Problems" U.S. Hot Rap Tracks 1
"Mo Money Mo Problems" Canadian Singles Chart 2
"Going Back to Cali" U.S. Billboard Hot 100 26
"Going Back to Cali" U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 31
"Going Back to Cali" U.S. Hot Rap Tracks 3
Song Chart (1998) Peak
position
"Sky's the Limit" Canadian Singles Chart 11
Chart procession and succession
Preceded by
Nine Lives by Aerosmith
Billboard 200 number-one album
April 12 - May 9, 1997
Succeeded by
Share My World by Mary J. Blige

Personnel

  • Barry White - Hair Stylist
  • Kit Walker - Sampled Keyboards
  • The Notorious B.I.G. - Performer, Songwriter, Producer, Liner Notes
  • Karen Anderson - Vocals (background)
  • Too Short - Vocals
  • Easy Mo Bee - Producer
  • Michael Ciro - Guitar
  • Sean "Puffy" Combs - Producer, Mixing
  • DJ Premier - Producer
  • Ben Garrison - Engineer
  • Rich July - Engineer
  • Marvin Scandrick - Vocals, Vocals (background) (112)
  • Quinnes Parker - Vocals, Vocals (background) (112)
  • Daron Jones - Producer, Vocals, Vocals (background) (112)
  • Michael Keith - Vocals, Vocals (background) (112)
  • Clark Kent - Producer
  • Paul Logus - Mixing
  • Manny Marroquin - Engineer
  • Tony Maserati - Mixing
  • Axel Niehaus - Engineer
  • Michael Patterson - Engineer, Mixing
  • Herb Powers - Mastering
  • RZA - Producer
  • Eddie Sancho - Mixing
  • Richard Travali - Mixing
  • Doug Wilson - Engineer
  • DJ Enuf - Producer
  • Faith Evans - Vocals (background)
  • Carl Thomas - Vocals
  • Pierre Retrayt - Producer
  • Rasheed Goodlowe - Engineer
  • Nasheim Myrick - Producer
  • Michael Lavine - Photography
  • Camilo Argumedes - Engineer
  • Deric Angelettie - Producer
  • Stevie J. - Producer
  • Prince Charles Alexander - Engineer, Mixing
  • Carlos Broady - Organ (Hammond), Producer
  • Lane Craven - Engineer, Mixing
  • Krayzie Bone - Vocals
  • Deborah "Portia" Neeley Rolle - Vocals (background)
  • Jiv Pos - Producer
  • Jleon6 - Executive Producer
  • Stephen Dent - Engineer
  • Lynn Montrose - Engineer
  • Steve Jones - Engineer
  • Bizzy Bone - Vocals
  • John Meredith - Engineer
  • Layzie Bone - Vocals
  • Diana Pedraza - Engineer
  • Mike Pitts - Assistant Producer
  • Kay Gee - Producer
  • Groovey Lew - Stylist
  • Ron Grant - Guest Appearance
  • Keanna Henson - Vocals (background)
  • Justin Cortinas- Producer

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.xxlmag.com/online/?p=405
  2. ^ http://www.king-mag.com/online/?p=5357
  3. ^ http://www.xxlmag.com/online/?p=405
  4. ^ Birchmeier, Jason. Review: Life After Death. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-11-08.
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert. Consumer Guide: Life After Death. The Village Voice: July 22, 1997. Archived from the original on 2009-11-08. Note: Christgau revised the original rating of (A-) to (A).
  6. ^ Browne, David. Review: Life After Death. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2009-11-08.
  7. ^ Coker, Cheo Hodari. Review: Life After Death. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2009-11-08.
  8. ^ Pareles, Jon. Review: Life After Death. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-11-08.
  9. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony. Review: Life After Death. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2009-11-08.
  10. ^ Hoard, Christian. Review: Life After Death. Rolling Stone: November 2, 2004.
  11. ^ Columnist. Review: Life After Death. The Source: 79. May 1997.
  12. ^ McGarvey, Evan. Review: Life After Death. Stylus Magazine. Retrieved on 2009-11-08.
  13. ^ Jones, Steve. Review: Life After Death. USA Today: 01.D. March 26, 1997. (Transcription of original review at talk page)
  14. ^ http://www.acclaimedmusic.net/Current/A1008.htm
  15. ^ http://rap.about.com/od/toppicks/ss/Top100RapAlbums_7.htm
  16. ^ http://www.rocklistmusic.co.uk/source.htm
  17. ^ http://www.trevornelson.com/nonflash/top100.asp
  18. ^ The Notorious B.I.G. Search the-breaks.com.
  19. ^ http://ariacharts.com.au/pages/chartifacts.htm

External links








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