Album Review | The Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death

This album was released on March 25th in the year of our lord 1997. This is the second and final official album by The Notorious B.I.G. I mean, he had some posthumous albums, but I’m not gonna listen to those ones. I think there are some people that like this album even more than Ready to Die, and it’s never really been close in my opinion, although I do still like this album a lot. I get why people hold it in such high regard, and I wouldn’t argue with anyone who referred to it as a classic. Not that that’s usually something I argue about. As always, I’ll write about the songs I actually enjoy before getting into the ones that I don’t care for. I’m gonna take it one disc at a time though.

The album begins with a pretty solid Intro skit, picking up immediately after Suicidal Thoughts. Basically, Biggie’s about to flatline, and you hear Puff Daddy by his bedside like, “You have too much to live for, mayne.” It is kinda sad that the only person by his side was Diddy. That’s depressing as shit honestly. I like the skit though; I think it sets the album up well. The first actual song is called Somebody’s Gotta Die. I think the beat from Nashiem Myrick, July Six & Puff Daddy is pretty nice, and Biggie of course killed it. I think the storytelling here is really great. The hook isn’t really anything special in my opinion, but it serves its purpose well enough. The second verse is where the song really gets good to me. My biggest gripe with this song is the sound effects to be honest. Some of them are cool, but some of them are also pretty distracting. The worst ones are of people talking in the background. It’s just annoying. It’s just like… Nigga… Shut the fuck up. I’m tryna hear Biggie rap. That shit annoys me so much. But anyway, the way the song ends is crazy. That ending has always been wild to me. I won’t spoil it just in case someone reading hasn’t listened, but I love it. I think the song is dope as hell. It’s followed by another iconic highlight entitled Hypnotize.

I actually think this is one of the first songs I ever heard by Biggie. The beat from D-Dot & Amen-Ra is funky as hell, and the way Biggie flows over it is absolutely mesmerizing. He was floating over this beat, man. His flow is so smooth here. It’s crazy. The uncredited hook from Pamela Long is of course iconic, although I don’t really love it personally. It’s cool though I guess. I’m just indifferent towards it to be honest. I feel like this song is more accessible to younger audiences, mainly because it’s the only Biggie song I ever hear people my age listening to. I’m not talking about other backpackers around my age of course. I mean like the average person who only follows what’s in the zeitgeist. Anyway, there’s really nothing I can say about this song that hasn’t been said already. It’s not really in the running for my favorite track just because I’ve heard it so many times that I’m kinda tired of it, but it’s still a fire song. I think it’s dope as hell. It’s followed by a major highlight entitled Kick in the Door. I honestly think I may have listened to this track even more than Hypnotize, but I still love it. The beat from DJ Premier is amazing. I kinda wish the track didn’t start with that skit from The Madd Rapper just because I’ve never really found that character particularly funny. It’s not a huge deal though. The song itself is of course fire.

Your reign on the top was short like leprechauns
As I crush so-called willies, thugs, and rapper-dons

As always, his flow was effortlessly smooth here. I think the verse is phenomenal. This song is kinda like Hypnotize in that there’s nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said before. The production, hook, and verses are all iconic. Based on the way the song is set up, I always kinda imagined it as a diss to the Madd Rapper.

Don't forget the publishing, I punish 'em, I'm done with them
Son, I'm surprised you run with them, I think they got
Cum in them 'cause they nothing but dicks
Trying to blow up like nitro and dynamite sticks
Mad I smoke hydro, rock diamonds that's sick
Got paid off my flow, rhyme with my own clique
Take trips to Cairo, laying with your bitch
I know you praying you was rich, fucking prick

He spazzed out on this track for real. I’ve seen some people say that the Madd Rapper was supposed to be representing 2Pac, but I don’t know about that. I wouldn’t say it’s a ridiculous interpretation, but I don’t personally subscribe to it. Anyway, I actually think each verse on this song gets better and better. The third one is my favorite.

This goes out for those that choose to use
Disrespectful views on the King of N-Y
Fuck that, why try, throw bleach in your eye
Now you brailling it, snatch that light shit, I'm scaling it
Conscious of your nonsense in '88
Sold more powder than Johnson and Johnson

The song is dope af. The next highlight for me is entitled Last Day. This one features a really nice appearance from The LOX. The opening verse from Sheek Louch is really dope.

Rock top shit you know how The LOX get
Then you can see me flyin' in the Bentley cockpit
LOX and B.I., hold our cliqua down for years
Gang not, but we been had our black tears
Niggas under the stairs only understand what we got
Underground, all above must get shot

That “niggas under the stairs” line has always been really cool to me. I mean, not always. I didn’t get it until I learned about the Wes Craven movie it’s referencing. Anyway, the second verse from Jadakiss is fire, although that line with the homophobic slur is definitely questionable. Not only because it’s homophobic, but also because it’s somehow gay as hell at the same time.

You already know what it's about when I run up in your house
Put the gun up in your mouth and get the money out the couch
Hearin' you out is senseless, perhaps for instance
I give this f███t a french kiss

Apparently he was trying to imply that he was giving a homosexual man a “kiss of death,” but, as someone on Genius pointed out, he could’ve just said “death kiss” and it still would’ve fit the rhyme perfectly. He clearly didn’t put that much thought into it though. It’s obviously not a huge issue; I just think it’s funny. Aside from the homophobia, I think the verse is fire overall. I don’t really think the beat from Havoc is anything special to be honest. It’s not bad, but it just doesn’t stand out much to me. It sounds like something Nas would’ve rapped over back in the day. Anyway, Styles P‘s verse is hard, but Biggie came in right behind him and completely tore it down. He easily had my favorite verse. I’m a big LOX fan, but Biggie was the star of the show here.

Who the fuck wanna squeeze?
My Desert E's make MC's freeze
You wakin' up in cold sweats, they just dreams
You still apologizin'
Analyzin', my size and your size and
Realizin' a fist fight would be asinine
You just pop wines, I must pop nines
Genuine steel piece
Nozzle in your grill piece
You're shook up, two bricks, every cook up
We can hook up, all I see is the future
Disrespect, I shoot you

That verse is cold as hell, man. He slaughtered that shit. The song is dope as hell. The following track is called I Love the Dough, and it’s definitely a weaker track to me, but I do still like it. I think the production from Easy Mo Bee is fantastic. I also think the verses from Jay-Z are really nice too. His flow was smoother than a motherfuck.

Miraculous, pockets stay full
Niggas skip the bull 'cause we matadors
Snatch the P89s that we pack in the drawers
And we clap the doors of your Acuras
Snap like cameras on amateurs
Make you all dance, hold a hammer to yours
Jig and Big rock ice, no cracks or flaws
Everybody got a part to play, back to yours

The reason I don’t really love this track as much as some of the others is mainly due to the content and the hook. The hook from Angela Winbush isn’t horrible or anything. I’d just be lying if I said I really liked it that much. It’s fine though. The beat is great, and the rapping is well done even if the content isn’t super interesting to me. They did a good job with this song. I fuck with it. It’s followed by another one of the more iconic tracks entitled What’s Beef. The production here from July Six, Nashiem Myrick & Paragon is pretty nice. Lyrically, this might be the coldest, most violent song Biggie ever did. It’s basically him discouraging other rappers from messing with him because he takes beef further than Rap shit. We see how that approach ended. On one hand, it kinda sucks because I think it’s better when rappers know not to take themselves too seriously and aren’t afraid to engage in beef for the sport. On the other hand, this shit is gangsta as fuck, so I like it.

Don't they know my nigga Gutter fuckin' kidnap kids
Fuck 'em in their ass, throw 'em over the bridge?
That's how it is, my shit is laid out
Fuck that "beef" shit, that shit is played out
Y'all got the gall, all I make is one phone call
All y'all disappear by tomorrow
All your guns is borrowed, I don't feel sorrow
Actually, your man passed the gat to me

I don’t think the third verse really added that much to the song, but it wasn’t bad at all. I just think the first and second verses were more entertaining, but that’s a nitpick. The song is still really dope as a whole. It’s followed by the B.I.G. Interlude, which I honestly wish was a full song. It’s him rapping over the instrumental to P.S.K. What Does It Mean by Schoolly D, which was basically the first Gangsta Rap song ever made. He only spits like 10 bars though. Honestly, I really liked hearing him over this super old school production style, so that’s why I wish this was a full song. He even uses the old school flow that Schoolly D used. It ends before it even really starts. I think it transitions into the following track nicely, but I just wanted more. With that said, I still think it’s dope as hell. The following track is one of the most iconic songs he ever recorded: Mo Money Mo Problems.

I feel like even if you somehow haven’t heard the song, you’ve definitely heard that phrase. The production from Puffy is boiling hot fiya, and Ma$e‘s flow on the first verse is smooth as fuck. I’ve personally never been a fan of Ma$e at all, but I definitely liked his performance here. The lyrics aren’t amazing or anything, but I just really like the way he flowed over this beat. I also think Kelly Price delivered what is arguably the best hook on the whole album here. She was sangin’ her motherfuckin’ ass off, and the melody itself is an earworm. She killed it. Puff Daddy’s verse is sufficient I suppose. I mean, obviously the song would’ve been better if Biggie just did all the verses. I would never willingly listen to a Ma$e song or a Puff Daddy song that didn’t have Biggie on it. I’ll never get the hype for Ma$e personally, but that’s just me. Biggie thankfully did his thing on that last verse though. I mean, the rapping on this track isn’t amazing to me, but the production and hook are just way too good for me to not fuck with the song. It’s dope as hell to me. The penultimate track on disc one is entitled Niggas Bleed, and it’s another highlight for me. It reminds me of a Grand Theft Auto V heist in the form of music. I think the production is tight, and the content is hard.

"Let's get this money baby, they shady, we get shady
Dress up like ladies and burn 'em with dirty .380s
Then they come to kill our babies, that's all out
I got gats that blow the wall out
Clear the mall out, fuck the fallout
Word to Stretch, I bet they pussy
The seven digits push me
Fucking real, here's the deal
I got a hundred bricks, 14-5 apiece
Enough to cop a 6, buy the house on the beach
Supply the peeps with Jeeps, brick apiece, capiche?
Everybody getting cream, no one considered a leech

The hook is nothing special, but every single verse, especially the third one, is hard as bricks. I love the way the production evolves during the third verse. It sounds super cinematic. I obviously could’ve done without Biggie’s use of the sinophobic slur in the third verse, but you can’t really put stuff like that past gangsta rappers, especially in the 90s.

I hit Maxi Priest at least twelve times in the chest
Spinned around, shot the ch█k in the breast
She crying, headshots put her to rest
Pop open them briefcases, nothing but Franklin faces
The spot's hot: sprinklers, alarm systems
That's when other guests start to slip in
It's time for us to get to dipping
I know them niggas in the Range is on they way up
Flipping, pistol-gripping, I load the clip in
The hallway got real loud and crowded
They walked right past us, I don't know how they allowed it
The funny thing about it, through all the excitement
They Range got towed, they double-parked by a hydrant

Overall, I think the song is dope as hell. The last song on the first disc is entitled I Got a Story to Tell. I love the production from Buckwild on this track. It’s one of my favorite beats on the album. I don’t really find the content that interesting, but the manner in which he executed it was fire. It’s pretty much just a story about himself fucking another nigga’s bitch. I guess rappers will always have this obsession over disrespecting people’s relationships. I don’t know what that’s about. The beat and writing make the song really good though. He’s good at making stories interesting even if the content of the story itself isn’t super intriguing. Unfortunately, he decided to use the last two minutes of the song to tell the exact same story, but just in the form of speech. That was totally unnecessary, and it just feels like a waste of time. I always skip to the next track once I get to that part. The song is still dope to me overall though. The only track that I don’t care for on the first disc of the album is Fuck You Tonight, which I’m sure doesn’t come as a surprise. It’s not just because it features R. Kelly. There are songs with R. Kelly that I still like to this day. My issue with the song is… Everything. I just don’t get why anyone would wanna listen to this. I mean, the production from Daron Jones is kinda nice, but the hook from R. Kelly just isn’t good. Also, why the fuck is the song so long? This track really did not need to be 5 minutes and 45 seconds. You all already know that I don’t care for the content. The beat is pretty much the only aspect of the track that I like aside from the technical aspects of Biggie’s performance. The man was flowing, as always. I just don’t wanna hear about this oval shaped man’s sexcapades. I will never be interested in that shit. I frankly don’t see the appeal in music like this, but that’s just me. The song is wack af in my opinion. Disc one is still pretty dope overall though. It’s really good. I think it’s more consistent than the second one personally, even though the second disc has some of my favorite tracks. The opening song is a good example. I think Notorious Thugs is one of the best tracks Biggie ever recorded. The vocals from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony are fire. The hook is amazing. DJ Stevie J put his ass into that beat too. The instrumental is incredible. I don’t think this is a hot take or anything, but it might be; Biggie had the best verse on this song. It’s not like the other members of the group were wack, but Biggie stood out the most. His entire verse is iconic. So many rappers have interpolated different lines and flows from this verse.

Spit your game, talk your shit
Grab your gat, call your clique
Squeeze your clip, hit the right one
Pass that weed, I got to light one
All them niggas, I got to fight one
All them hoes, I got to like one
Our situation is a tight one
What you gonna do: fight or run?

He slaughtered this shit. It’s one of my favorite verses on the whole album. Every other verse on this track is fire too though. Bizzy Bone killed it. Even though Biggie has my favorite verse, I actually think Bizzy’s verse was more interesting lyrically.

We mean mug, Mo thugs
Trained to be perfect disciples when it's survival
Tongue is a double-edged sword
Triple six rivals spittin' fire
This the real truth, bitch, breakin' out for lies
My messiah's better be ready for armageddon, shit's expired
It's wild, bless the child, the one that became a man
Put in positions off in the Clair
All that I had to do was stare
Test me now, contender; never no surrender, no pretend
Pick up my pen in my hand
One of my trusted friend-friends

Krayzie Bone’s flow was of course phenomenal, and I loved his signature melodic delivery. Layzie Bone definitely had my least favorite verse, but he still did a really nice job. It used to bother me that only three of the Bone Thugs had verses, but in hindsight the song would’ve been way too long if all of them went in. It’s already 6 minutes. I think it’s a flawless track. It’s dope af, and an amazing way to start the second disc of the album. It’s followed by one of the more sentimental tracks on the album, Miss U. I think the instrumental here from KayGee is really pretty. I’m not really crazy about the bridge from 112 to be honest, but it’s not bad. The hook is pretty good. The second verse is where the song really starts getting good to me.

Gave him half my paper, told 'em "go that route"
Few months, he got his brain blown out
Now I'm stressed; his baby's mother, she trippin', blamin' me
And his older brothers understand the game it be
Kinda topsy-turvy; you win some, you lose some
Damn, they lost a brother, they mother lost a son
Fuck, why my nigga couldn't stay in NY?
I'm a thug, but I swear for three days I cried
I look in the sky and ask god why
Can't look his baby girls in the eye
Damn, I'm missin' him

I think all three of the verses are good. The third one might actually be my favorite to be honest. This song isn’t exactly a highlight for me, but I don’t really have any major complaints with it. It just doesn’t blow me away like the other highlights. It’s just a dope song, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Not every track has to be super amazing. Anyway, the next highlight for me is called Going Back to Cali. This is another one of the first songs I ever heard from Biggie. It’s interesting because it’s basically a G-Funk song. I find the skit at the beginning of the track to be kind of annoying; I wish there was a convenient way to skip it and just start the actual song. I guess if I really cared enough I could edit it out with GarageBand, but I can’t be bothered to do that. It’s not a huge deal. Anyway, the production Easy Mo Bee is fire, and I actually really like DJ Stevie J’s vocoder contribution. That talkbox vocal style typically isn’t my cup of tea, but it sounds great here in my opinion. The opening verse is nice too.

Mad 'cause I got my dick sucked and my balls licked

The second verse was better in my opinion though. I like how he kinda addressed the dumb idea that someone from the East Coast is incapable of recognizing any positive qualities in the West Coast.

If I got to choose a coast, I got to choose the East
I live out there, so don't go there
But that don't mean a nigga can't rest in the West
See some nice breast in the West
Smoke some nice sess in the West, y'all niggas is a mess
Thinking I'm gon stop, giving LA props
All I got is beef with those that violate me
I shall annihilate thee

The hook is pretty catchy too. The final verse isn’t as great to me since he’s pretty much just rapping about fucking, but overall I think the song is dope as hell. Biggie definitely does G-Funk better than someone like Nas. Anyway, this track is followed by yet another one of the most famous songs Biggie ever did, Ten Crack Commandments. The beat from DJ Premier is fire, and the opening lines from Biggie are iconic.

I've been in this game for years, it made me a animal
There's rules to this shit, I wrote me a manual
A step-by-step booklet for you to get
Your game on track, not your wig pushed back

The song has a very straightforward structure; it’s just one verse in which he describes 10 important rules when it comes to serving weight. It’s a really dope concept for a song in my opinion. I feel like I like it now more than I would have when it originally came out just because I know how influential it was. For example, if you listen to the song (((commandments))) by MC Paul Barman, you’ll see how much he borrowed from this track. Same goes for Step Aside by Nems. There are countless others as well. Those are just two fairly recent examples. Like I said, the song itself is very straightforward. I still think it’s dope as hell though. The next highlight for me on disc two is entitled Sky’s the Limit.

Forgive me for sounding like a broken record here, but this is yet ANOTHER one of the most iconic songs Biggie ever recorded. It’s definitely one of my favorites. The production from DJ Clark Kent is amazing. It sounds so cinematic to me. Lyrically, the content is almost identical to that of Juicy, but in my opinion this song feels less celebratory and more sentimental. I also just think the production is better, and the hook from 112 is glorious. I actually think it’s a perfect song to be honest. Juicy is amazing too, but Sky’s the Limit is one of the best songs Biggie ever recorded in my opinion. Every single verse is fire.

Quick to grab my Smith & Wesson like my dick was missing
To protect my position, my corner, my lair
While we out here, say the Hustler's Prayer:
"If the game shakes me or breaks me
I hope it makes me a better man, take a better stand"
Put money in my mom's hand
Get my daughter this college plan so she don't need no man
Stay far from timid, only make moves when your heart's in it
And live the phrase "Sky's the limit"

It’s a special song. I think it’s dope af. The following track is called The World Is Filled…, and it’s definitely one of the weaker songs on the album in my opinion, but I do still like it. The production is pretty nice, and the sung hook from Carl Thomas is phenomenal to me. I actually think Puffy’s flow on the first verse is kinda nice. I unfortunately just don’t really care for the content that much. I just find the song kinda boring compared to the others. Nothing about it stands out in a particularly bad way, but it’s just not that exciting. Even Biggie’s verse didn’t really blow me away. It was fine though. The final verse from Too $hort was exactly what you would expect from him. The best aspect of the song to me is easily the hook. Nothing else about the song stands out that much to me, but I do still like it. It’s a cool track. It’s followed by a highlight entitled My Downfall. I love the production here, and the hook from DMC is fire. Lyrically, this song is pretty much just Biggie saying, “niggas prayin’ on my downfall fr fr💯,” but in a less cringy manner. Goddamn, this album is long as fuck. I’m getting tired of writing this long ass review. Anyway, all three of the verses on this song are fire, but my favorite aspect of the track is honestly the hook from DMC. I just love the way he sounds here. Biggie killed this track too though.

I dream filthy
My moms and pops mixed me with Jamaican Rum and Whiskey
Huh, what a set off
Shoulda pushed him dead off, wiped the sweat off
'Cause in this world I'm dead off, squeeze lead off
Benz sped off, ain't no shook hands in Brook-land
Army fatigues bring fatigue to enemies; look, man
You wanna see me locked up, shot up
Moms crouched up over the casket, screamin' "bastard"
Cryin', know my friends is lyin'
Y'all know who killed him, filled him with the lugers from they Rugers
Or they Desert, dyin' ain't the shit, but it's pleasant
Kinda quiet, watch my niggas bring the riot
Givin' cats the opposite of diets

The song is dope as hell. The penultimate track is called Long Kiss Goodnight. The production here from RZA is great. It’s just cool to hear Biggie rapping over a RZA beat. He killed it too. He was rhymin’ his ass off.

Blood rushin', concussions ain't nothin'
Catch cases, come out fronting, smokin' something
Sippin' White Russians, bitch in the Benz bumpin'
I laced it with the basic, six TVs a system
Knockin' Ma$e shit, face it, we hard to hit
Guard your shit 'fore I stick you for your re-up
Wipe the pee up, lick shots, woke your seed up
Go in the ashtray, spark the weed up, long kiss

The hook is nothing special to me personally, but it serves its purpose well enough. I just think Biggie really killed the verses here, so that’s the one aspect of the song that stands out the most to me aside from RZA’s production. The song is really dope. The closing track is another highlight entitled You’re Nobody (‘Til Somebody Kills You). I think this song works really well as an outro. The production from Puffy is really cinematic-sounding, and Biggie of course killed the verses.

Don't you get suspicious
I'm Big Dangerous, you're just a lickle vicious
As I leave my competition respirator style
Climb the ladder to success escalator style
Hold y'all breath, I told y'all
Death controls y'all, Big don't fold y'all
I spit phrases that'll thrill you
You're nobody 'til somebody kills you

The one aspect of the song that I’m not really crazy about is the hook. I think the melody is pretty nice, but Biggie’s singing doesn’t sound great. It’s 100 times better than that bullshit ass interpolation that French Montana’s wack ass did on the song Nobody by Rick Ross. That song is an abomination, and Puff Daddy deserves hate just for agreeing to be a part of it. Anyway, this was the last song on the album, so now I’ll talk about the tracks from disc 2 that I don’t actually care for. Track 15 is entitled Another, and I think this one is pretty bad. I really hate the production from Diddy & DJ Stevie J, and the sung hook here from Biggie & Lil Kim is genuinely terrible to me. The whole song is basically about how Biggie is a cuck.

Like this, y'all
My girl sucked another nigga dick, y'all

I’m just kidding. Biggie being cheated on isn’t the main focus of the song. I just thought that would be funny. The content just isn’t for me at all. However, I can admit that the flows from Biggie & Lil Kim are pretty great. They sound really nice here. I just can’t get past the wack ass hook and production. I think the song is awful. I’ve always had mixed feelings about Playa Hater. Biggie’s singing throughout this whole track, and it surprisingly goes over way better than you would expect. I genuinely think he sounds really good on the hook. Unfortunately, things kinda fall apart on the verses. It just sounds really goofy. However, it’s still tolerable. What ISN’T tolerable is the falsetto from Diddy on the second verse. He ruined this track for me. The song definitely sounds like it’s not meant to be taken seriously, and that’s cool I guess. That doesn’t make it entertaining for me though. I don’t think the song is bad, but it’s just not something I’d listen to again. It’s just okay to me. You wanna know what’s NOT okay though? The following track: Nasty Boy. I think this song is fucking terrible. With that said, the opening skit is actually kinda funny to me. I mean, it’s fucking disgusting, but it’s just funny to me hearing them talk about… Well, I don’t wanna say it. It’s gross. I choose not to believe that it’s a true story, but I don’t know for sure. Anyway, given the title of the song, it’s probably no surprise that I don’t care for this track. Y’all know I don’t have any interest in hearing about this kinda sexual content—especially from Biggie. I don’t really care for the production from Diddy, and the hook from Kelly Price is dogshit to me. This might actually be my least favorite song on the album. I haven’t decided whether or not I hate it more than the R. Kelly collaboration. I still gotta figure that out as of Thursday, February 18th. Anyway, the song is wack af to me. There’s not a single aspect of it that I like aside from Biggie’s flow.

This album is really damn good. Like I said about some of the more iconic tracks, there’s not really much I can say that hasn’t already been said a thousand times before. Making a double album is an impressive feat for any artist, but making one that’s actually good is a whole other story. I’d probably take 2Pac’s double album over this one personally, but it’s incredibly close. This isn’t a perfect album, but I think if you took all the best tracks and put them on one disc, you’d be left with one of the best albums of the decade, and probably the best album of 1997. I definitely prefer Ready to Die, but this album is a really dope sequel, and I’d still say it’s a must-listen for those who consider themselves Hip Hop fans. It’s got a few of the best songs ever made. Choosing a favorite track from this album is a struggle, and my answer pretty much changes depending on my mood. If you somehow haven’t heard this album yet, you’re fuckin’ up. It’s dope.

Favorite Song: Sky’s the Limit
Least Favorite Song: Fuck You Tonight


Grade: B

Tell me if I'm trippin'

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s