June is Black Music Month, a celebration of African-American musicians, creators, innovators and influencers. For 2018, the Urban One family is highlighting 25 of the most influential musicians of all-time that have contributed to black spaces far and wide, ranging from inspirational, to hip-hop and R&B.
Artist: The Notorious B.I.G.
Quick Highlights: Life After Death certified diamond, arguably the greatest rapper who ever lived
Other rappers could claim the title of being more ferocious, perhaps even more passionate. But there wasn’t a rapper who could tell a story that grabbed you or delivered it with the crushing wit that The Notorious B.I.G. did. If Heavy D was the mold for the overweight lover in the late ‘80s, Biggie was the vessel for party anthems built off of the backs of ‘80s funk records and intricate storytelling. He wasn’t pretty by typical beauty standards but overly charismatic to the point he couldn’t be ignored. “Birthdays was the worst days, now we sip champagne when we thirsty,” he rhymed on his first big hit, 1994’s “Juicy.”
Through two albums before his tragic passing in 1997, fans charted the evolution. A gifted rhymer with a larger-than-life personality that blew up the Mafioso concept that became sort of landmark after crime pieces from Martin Scorcese dominated the box-office. “Ready To Die” marked him as a street hustler who celebrated the spoils of life while having the feel of death lurching over his shoulder. Paranoid joy stood on “Life After Death,” the second album that almost broke the mold for a rap double album. He had risen to the top; the stories became grander as did his potential.
When he was gunned down, he had already changed what had been established for him less than a full decade prior. Sean “Diddy” Combs, through two B.I.G. albums had crafted a rap blueprint for albums: the single for the ladies, the single for the clubs, appeal to both the streets and corporate America. Now, 21 years after his passing, his tale is as American as any other. “Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, when I was dead broke, I could never picture this.”
“Sky’s The Limit”
“Going Back To Cali”
“One More Chance”