Notorious Soundtrack Review
Posted by Fred Richani on 01.16.2009
The Notorious B.I.G. was one of the greatest rappers to have ever lived. Does his biopic's soundtrack do his amazing legacy justice?
March 9, 1997 is a day that will live in hip-hop infamy. It is the day that arguably the greatest rapper of all time was shot and killed by a still unknown assailant. The victim however is well known and lives on through his music and now biopic Notorious. That victim was rapper Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace (also known as Biggie Smalls).
Even though Christopher Wallace was only the age of 24 and two albums deep at the time of his death, the young man gave fans incredible lyricism with style only rivaled today by a select few (Jay-Z and Nas come to mind), as well as music you could bump day and night. Ready To Die and Life After Death are his two classic albums that are so well put together. The architect behind Biggie’s records is none other than Sean “Diddy” Combs (then known as Puff Daddy).
There have been albums already released posthumously in Biggie’s honor in the past. The two being Born Again and Duets: The Final Chapter, which featured orchestrated duets between Biggie and many rappers and singers. The latter album was criticized due to the belief that if Biggie was alive, he would not have collaborated with the likes of Nelly, Juelz Santana, and Jim Jones. The Notorious Soundtrack does what Duets failed to succeed at—doing Notorious B.I.G.’s legacy justice.
1."Notorious Thugs" (featuring Bone Thugs-N-Harmony)
5. "Party & Bullsh--"
7. "One More Chance" remix (featuring Faith Evans)
8. "Brooklyn Go Hard" (Jay-Z featuring Santogold)
9. "Letter to B.I.G." (Jadakiss featuring Faith Evans)
10. "Kick in the Door"
11. "What's Beef"
12. "World Is Filled"
13. "One More Chance" (featuring CJ Wallace)
14. "The Notorious Theme" (composed by Danny Elfman)
15. "Microphone Murderer" (previously unreleased demo)
16. "Guaranteed Raw" (previously unreleased demo)
17. "Love No Ho" (previously unreleased demo)
The Notorious Soundtrack starts off with a seven previously released tracks from Notorious B.I.G.’s two albums prior to his death. “Notorious Thugs” is a hip-hop ballad that includes legendary Cleveland, Ohio rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, which showcases Biggie’s versatility in him keeping up with his collaborator’s fast paced yet smooth flow. “Hypnotize” is a timeless classic about how Biggie hypnotizes his women with his style and swag. “Notorious B.I.G” is another great track that features verses from Big, Diddy, and Lil Kim over the Duran Duran sampled instrumental. B.I.G.’s debut song “Party and Bullshit” also appears on this soundtrack, released in 1993. when he was then going by the named Biggie Smalls.
Speaking of debuts, “Warning” was a popular B-Side from B.I.G.’s 1994 debut album Ready To Die. “One More Chance” is another timeless Biggie song that features his widow Faith Evans. The song was originally released in 1995, when Faith Evans was an up and coming R & B singer. The instrumental was sampled years later for a single called “Foolish” by Ashanti that was a hit on her debut album (original sample was DeBarge’s “Stay With Me”).
In terms of previously released content including remixes, there are nine tracks. Besides the seven aforementioned, there is also “Kick in the Door”, “What’s Beef”, and “The World Is Filled” that reminds old fans of B.IG.’s greatness. One of the original highlights of the Notorious soundtrack is “Brooklyn Go Hard” featuring Biggie’s friend Jay-Z and singer/songwriter Santogold, containing a sample of her track “Shove It”. “Letter to B.I.G.” by Jadakiss and Faith Hill on vocals is an extremely personable track from the D-Block member. In “Letter to B.I.G.”, Jadakiss talks about life after Biggie’s death, how much he misses him, and the music business (at least on the rap side) being in shambles. Such a pouring of emotion displays how much influence Christopher Wallace had on the D-Block member and that ‘Kiss is one of the most underrated lyricists in the game.
Perhaps, the true gems of this album are the demos that were previously unreleased. “Microphone Murderer”, “Guaranteed Raw”, and “Love No Ho” are raw, uncut, and are a great joy to hear an all time great seamlessly spit lyrical fire power on. “The Notorious Theme” is an instrumental composed by Danny Elfman that is well, the theme of Notorious the film. Hearing Notorious B.I.G.’s son CJ Wallace on “One More Chance” was interesting, but left a lot to be desired. In a way, it sounded like a kiddy version of Big, but he did not exactly have really long verses or spit hot bars. Still, there may be quite a bit of potential for a youngster whose lineage belongs to hip-hop royalty. Overall, The Notorious Soundtrack is a great mix of songs from and inspired by the motion picture.
The 411: The Notorious Soundtrack is an absolute recommendation for those not familiar with Christopher Wallace and his incredible talent. Heck, this is a recommendation to fans of Biggie that do not happen to own his albums. In a way, this is a greatest hits collection, coupled with a few unreleased demos, a remix, a hot Jay-Z song, and Jadakiss’s tribute to Notorious B.I.G. This is an excellent compilation of tracks and certainly showcases Christopher Wallace’s natural talent and enormous influence on hip-hop. I don’t know about the movie yet, but the Notorious Soundtrack would make Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace and those close to him very proud.