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The Notorious B.I.G.’s 10 Greatest Songs Ever

You gotta shed a tear for the ’90s babies out there. What hip-hop legends do they have? We have so many to count, beginning with perhaps the greatest of all, the Notorious B.I.G. Exactly 15 years ago on this day, Big was shot and killed in what became a fitting end for a disastrous era in hip-hop. “Disastrous” because even today, Twitter is filled with Biggie lyrics, quotes, songs, top 10 lists and photos. Everyone still loves him, from NBA players to random folk.

I figured the least we could do today was put together a list of our favorite songs from one of the GOATS. He might’ve only made two legit albums during his day – one was the greatest double-disc ever – but still, he had enough classic records. to fill up a wall. Here are my 10 favorite songs of Biggie’s too-short career.

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10. “Party and Bullshit”

9. “I Got A Story To Tell”
Extra points for Big considering he was banging the girl of some Knick. This is storytelling at its finest.

8. “Big Poppa”
Introduced perhaps the most well-known chorus in hip-hop history, this is one of those jams that can still resonate with people years after it was first hot.

7. “Kick In The Door”
Considering my favorite rapper ever is NaS, I was finding a spot for this joint somewhere on this list. The opening bars weren’t so much a diss at Nas. They were more like a playful jab. The two of them had been sending veiled shots at each other on numerous records, and unlike the whole East/West debacle, they were keeping it to a friendly competition. Premo killed the beat here again, and the Mad Rapper was the man.

6. “Sky’s The Limit”
So what if Bad Boy helped usher in a terribly forgettable era of hip-hop and R&B mashups? They did it right for once on “Sky’s The Limit” with 112. I’ve been listening to this track since the day it dropped, and if we had iTunes play counts back then, I’m willing to bet this one has been spun more often than anything else on Life After Death.

5. “Who Shot Ya”
I rarely listen to this track for obvious reasons. Not because it isn’t a dope song. It is. And not because Biggie doesn’t rip it. He does. It’s just too hard to take considering the circumstances it helped to inflame. Released almost immediately after 2Pac was shot up in a New York City recording studio, Bad Boy comes with this? Whether it was deliberate or not doesn’t matter. Terrible taste. It helped usher in some spectacular music, but also an ugly era that everyone really wishes never happened.

4. “Warning”
Storytelling? Ask hip-hop cats about the all-time greatest to paint a picture and you’ll typically hear a list that almost always begins with Slick Rick, NaS and Ghostface. But Big had some classic as well. The aforementioned “I Got A Story To Tell” and of course, “Warning.” Rapping as two different people in the same song never sounded so good.

3. “Everyday Struggle”
If there was one track that sort of personified Ready to Die for me, it was this one. It wasn’t just an “ashy to classy” story. It wasn’t just another track about coming up hard. Big took it and flipped it, brought you inside his mind and showed a mortality you rarely see from rappers. He wasn’t afraid to say he was suicidal or scared.

2. “Unbelievable”
After he spit “Live from Bedford Stuyvesant, the livest one” Big could’ve just stopped right there. With Premo producing, there wasn’t any way this WASN’T becoming a classic.

1. “Juicy”
What? Did you expect anything else? The song that Big initially thought would turn him into a laughingstock instead turned him into a superstar. I never thought I’d hear something so perfect coming from a combination of ghetto street rhymes, Mtume‘s “Juicy Fruit” and a chorus sung by Bad Boy’s female R&B group Total.

What are your favorite Biggie songs?

Follow Sean on Twitter at @SEANesweeney.

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