The Notorious Sampler.
Throughout his career Biggie Smalls developed a signature sound that was equally as smooth as it was aggressive. The Notorious BIG’s signature smoothness came from three places; one his deep relaxed voice, two his hypnotic flow, and three his impeccable choice of R&B samples.
Twenty-five years after the death of Biggie we’re going to look back at the most prominent R&B songs that Biggie incorporated into his art.
This song is Biggie’s most popular radio hit off of his posthumous album Life After Death and perhaps the biggest song of his entire career. Mo Money Mo Problems has one of the most prolific samples in all of hip-hop, using I’m Coming Out by Diana Ross.
Mo Money Mo Problems received a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 1998, only to be beaten by I’ll Be Missing You by Diddy and Faith Evans – which is actually a song about Biggie.
Mo Money Mo Problems has been a massive pop culture force for twenty-five years, both as a song and as a mantra.
The notorious lyrics “Biggie Biggie Biggie can’t you see? Sometimes your words just hypnotize me,” is an homage to the beat boxing classic La Di Da Di by Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh. However, that’s not the only sampled part of this hip-hop classic.
Hypnotize utilizes part of the 1979 jazz-funk song Rise by Herp Albert. Rise was incredibly popular in the late 70’s climbing all the way to #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
Gimme The Loot
Although songs like Mo Money Mo Problems and Juicy are far better known for their features, on Gimme The Loot Biggie loops a James Brown song for 1974. The song Coldblooded serves as the foundation for much of the beat to a song that is ultimately about robbing people. The sample comes from minute 2:09 in the soulful James Brown tune and will catch you immediately.
Juicy Fruit in Juicy
WBLS royalty James Mtume created the iconic hit Juicy Fruit, which then became the backdrop for Biggie’s Juicy. Mtume told NBC News back in 2018 “I already knew Puffy. He told me about his new artist, Biggie Smalls. We worked out a deal where he can sample the ‘Juicy Fruit,’ record. When the “Juicy,” record was released, it introduced a whole new generation.” The funky Juicy Fruit beat is infectious and has stood the test of time in both hip-hop and R&B.
Bad Boy Records, Diddy, and Biggie Smalls were impeccable with their music knowledge and beat selection. No artist has had the ability to build off of R&B records the way Biggie did, his ability to fuse genres and seamlessly blend styles has cemented his legacy.