Saturday, March 3, 2007


OK, if you ask my friends, they can tell you that I love to rant about music, but this goes to the next level. I am really pissed off now. I know that...I think it was Brian Eno - cuz when in doubt, Eno - but I think Eno said that greatest hits albums were only for housewives...or some shit, I'm totally messing up the quote...The point is that greatest hits albums are crap, and real fans shouldn't get all bent out of shape over them since it's usually the record companies that throw them together (Speaking of: if anyone that works at said companies ever reads this, hire me to compile hits collections; I'd stick to the artist's vision & will give you good product - but I digress). I like to get bent out of shape anyway.

What happens when the record company head is the artist's "best friend", and the artist is dead?? You get the fucking rape of a great and vibrant career for truckloads of dollars.

I'm talking to you, Sean Combs, you motherfucking whore. You are a vaccuum in which art cannot breathe.

Stop ruining Christopher Wallace's artistic legacy. He was the greatest MC that Hip-Hop has ever known. His only competition would be from The R - Rakim, and it's close. I believe that Eric B. & Rakim's "Follow The Leader" is the greatest single MC recording in the 28 year history of Hip-Hop on wax. But Biggie's command of the English language, his ability to pull it & shape it & mold it, is second to none, and the variety of his elocution and rhyme schemes, his acute attention to detail, and his unique inflections, are what him make number one to me and alot of Hip-Hop fans. And this tremendous talent should be celebrated, not pissed on to prop up your own suffering career.

I read yesterday of the upcoming release of the long overdue Notorious B.I.G. Greatest Hits collection. Now, Pitchforkmedia was correct - you can have his two proper albums for $40 and be done with it. But I believe that hits collections are for the next generation, as introductions; all anthologies should be compiled with that in mind, not immediate dollar signs. Look at Al Green's Greatest Hits. At its core, it has remained the same for three decades, but gets added onto to further define its value. It is the ideal example. Why can't Biggie have that?? Let's look at the tracklist...

Juicy, Big Poppa, Hypnotize, Warning - OK, the hits. Check. But where is the monster hit "Mo Money, Mo Problems"? Could it be because Diddy is trying to have people forget the shiny jumpsuits, or is it because Mase left him for 50 Cent?

Ten Crack Commandments, Unbelievable - Universal genre favorites. Check.

One More Chance (Remix), Who Shot Ya - Ooh very good, hits not found on the original albums, so you get added fan dollars. Check. See, there is a way to do this with integrity AND dollars in mind.

Notorious Thugs, Niggas Bleed, Fuck You Tonight - Hmmm, I don't know what Mr. Puffy is going for here...I guess padding the collection with tracks from a bloated double CD, when this collection definitely doesn't need them. Now, I can see the argument for "Notorious Thugs", because alot of Hip-Hop heads feel this is an exceptional example of what I praised Biggie for before. He adapts his entire skill set to fit Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's quick stutter-step flow, and succeeds at a ridiculous level. But that doesn't change the fact that Bone Thugs take up too much of the track. Where's "I've Got a Story To Tell" or "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Kills You"? Where's "Sky's The Limit" (which was a single), or "Going Back To Cali"? If you're going to pull material from Life After Death, where are the iconic tracks? Where is the fucking immense "Kick In The Door"?? That should be front and center here...

Get Money (by Junior MAFIA) - Well, here ya go. Lose this song and add "Kick In The Door"; they share lyrics, but 'Kick' is (a) a better song, and (b) all Biggie. Replace "Get Money" with "Players Anthem" which is better anyway. Besides "Get Money" was always more about Lil' Kim anyway.

Dead Wrong (feat. Eminem) - Sean. Please. This is obvious whoring - there is no reason to have the later version of this song featuring Marshall on a Biggie Greatest Hits other than to maybe catch a couple extra bucks. His tacked-on appearance, while very good, was a novelty to begin with, and was played out as it should've been when it was originally released in 1999. Why not release a good quality version of the original B-side so that the fans will actually pay for not having to listen to the shitty vinyl rips that have been floating around the internet for years & years? I'd also add (actually, open the disc with) the 1993 freestyle of Biggie completely slaying Tupac (the one that begins with Biggie yelling 'Where Brooklyn at??'). While you're at it, please also add the great "Party & Bullshit", Biggie's first single. Its absence here is inexcusable.

Notorious BIG, Nasty Girl, Running Your Mouth, Want That Old Thing Back - This can now be called sick, and Diddy is dangerously close to necrophilia. These posthumous cut-&-paste jobs, two from previous collections and two "new" abominations, sink to a horrible low and are exactly what I'm talking about when I call Sean Combs a whore. They are shameless and, even worse, as far from essential to the legacy of The Notorious B.I.G. as one could get. They are not celebrations of Biggie. They are musical leeches sucking his soul dry. Meanwhile, classic cuts, like the ones I've mentioned already, or even better tracks from Biggie's near-flawless debut such as "Things Done Changed" or "The What" get left behind; "Everyday Struggle" and "Gimme The Loot" might actually be his best songs - the former the shining light of hope in the middle of his nihilism, the latter a masterful crime narrative in which Biggie rhymes as two separate people with two flows, at two pitches - and they are still nowhere near this "Greatest Hits".

In the end, even if Diddy thinks he's being noble, he's doing his late friend a disservice by giving potential listeners the wrong impression of what the recorded legacy of The Notorious B.I.G. should be. Christopher Wallace deserves to be remembered as a pioneer in his arena, just as Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Bob Marley, and John Lennon are in theirs. He fills that space in the history of Hip-Hop. This compilation goes nowhere towards that goal, and Sean Combs' hand in this end result is wholly regrettable and borders on criminal.

Raz's Ratings
MUSIC: The Notorious B.I.G.'s Greatest Hits

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