Released: March 25, 1997
Genre: Gangsta rap ∙mafioso rap ∙ hardcore hip hop
Label: Bad Boy ∙ Arista
Producer: Sean “Puffy” Combs ∙ Mark Pitts ∙ The Notorious B.I.G. ∙ The Hitmen ∙ Buckwild ∙ Clark Kent ∙ DJ Premier ∙ Easy Mo Bee ∙ Havoc ∙ Daron Jones ∙KayGee ∙ RZA
In my eyes, The Notorious B.I.G. takes the cake for being one of the greatest lyricists of all time. After the release of his debut album Ready to Die, Biggie became a household name as one of the biggest hardcore rappers ever with classic records Big Poppa, Juicy, Warning, One More Chance & many more.
Life After Death was the second and final album that was released by Biggie, being released on March 25, 1997 (16 days after his untimely death) on Bad Boy Records and Arista Records. Life After Death is clearly a hardcore hip hop album with elements of sub genres gangsta rap and mafioso rap. Released as a double album, the blockbuster album is a continuation of Big’s debut album. Visualizing the events of what lead up to the end of Ready to Die, Life After Death means that it is the after life and Big is realizing that life does go on after death, and it is oddly ironic that he passed right after he completed recording this album. It’s very similar to 2Pac and his All Eyez on Me record.
Life After Death is a movie. Whether if we had music videos from the album or not, when you sit and listen to the album. It was a blockbuster album features wise. Guests included protege Lil’ Kim, Angela Winbush, Too $hort, Puff Daddy, Mase, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, The Lox, Angela Winbush, D.M.C. of Run D.M.C. like it is truly a star studded event. Honestly, you can visualize what’s going on in your head. & it is A “FIRE MOVIE” in that mind of yours. It is really one of the greatest albums of all time. Not just in hip hop, but ALL time. There’s so many songs on this album that was single potential. Every song was good. Like wow. Life After Death was a commercial success peaking at number one on the Billboard 200 & Top R&B.Hip-Hop Albums charts, selling 690,000 copies in its first week. The album has been certified Diamond by the RIAA, and it is credited as one of the best-selling rap album of all time.
Ladies & Gentlemen, I present to you The Notorious B.I.G.’s Life After Death.
Life After Death Intro
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Sean Combs ∙ Steven Jordan
Life After Death Intro picks up where Suicidal Thoughts left off at, where Puff is mourning the “death” of Big. The sad ironic fact about this intro is that they really became reality.
Damn… we was s’pose to rule the world baby.
We was unstoppable!Puff Daddy, Life After Death Intro, 1997
***Life After Death Intro contains a sample of Suicidal Thoughts by The Notorious B.I.G., and was sampled by Drake for Love All featuring Jay-Z.
Somebody’s Gotta Die
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Nashiem Myrick ∙ Carlos Broady ∙ Sean Combs ∙ Anthony Hester
Somebody’s Gotta Die is next up on the record, & is a tale about revenge. Many were under the assumption that the song was pertaining to beefs and it was not about any of the sort.
***Somebody’s Gotta Die contains a sample of In the Rain by The Dramatics.
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Sean Combs ∙ Deric Angelettie ∙ Ron Lawrence ∙ Andy Armer ∙ Randy Alpert
Hypnotize is just one of those quintessential hip hop records that’ll forever have a party jumping! I was only 4 years old when this song dropped, and I just remembered how I was so entranced with the production and Big’s flow on it now that I’m older. Released as the lead single from the album days before Big’s untimely passing, Hypnotize was the fifth song to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 posthumously by an artist since John Lennon. The song was also number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and has since been certified platinum by the RIAA.
***Hypnotize contains a sample of Herb Alpert’s Rise, and an interpolation of La-Di-Da-Di by Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew. The song was sampled for Life of the Party by Kanye West & André 3000, E.I. by Nelly, You Got It by J. Cole & Wale, Make It Rain Remix by Fat Joe, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne, Run by Bell Biv DeVoe and Squeeze 1st by Jay-Z.
Kick in the Door
Writen by Christopher Wallace ∙ Jalacy Hawkins ∙ Christopher Martin
Kick in the Door was a diss TRACK my nigga lol. Big’s issues with other papers is a theme that occurs frequently on the album, but yeah this one was super personal. Directed at artists such as Nat, Jeru the Damaja, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, Big even took jabs at the producer of the record, which was DJ Premier!
***Kick in the Door contains samples of I Put a Spell on You by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins & Unbelievable by the Notorious B.I.G, and contains interpolations of Get Money by Junior M.A.F.I.A, Wash Yo Ass by Martin Lawrence & Robby, the Cook and 60 Gallons of Booze by Louis & Bebe Barron. The song also was sampled for Jay-Z’s The Ruler’s Back, Usher’s Superstar (Interlude), Miguel’s Candles In the Sun, Birdman & Lil Wayne’s Neck of the Woods.
Fuck You Tonight (featuring R. Kelly)
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Daron Jones ∙ Sean Combs ∙ Robert Kelly
Fuck You Tonight is a hip hop & R&B masterpiece. Featuring R. Kelly, Big’s flow on this song is truly impeccable. While it wasn’t a single, it has been one of his most sampled records.
***Fuck You Tonight has been sampled for Ashanti’s Unfoolish, Johnnie Taylor’s Soul Heaven, Ne-Yo’s Mirror and Ludacris’ Get Back. The song has also been interpolated for Lil Wayne & Betty Wright’s Playing With Fire & Mary J. Blige & Dave East’s Rent Money.
Last Day (featuring The LOX)
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Jason Phillips ∙ David Styles ∙ Kejuan Muchita
Last Day is a song that’s lyriclaly about how people live fast and die young.
I Love the Dough (featuring Jay-Z and Angela Winbush)
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Otten Harvey, Jr ∙ Angela Winbush ∙ René Moore ∙ Shawn Carter
I Love the Dough is an album cut that truly deserves more recognition. Y’all should know by now how much I love and adore Angela Winbush. Built around a sample and interpolation of her song I Love You More with former bandmate René Moore, I Love the Dough also features Jay-Z, and speaks to how money can buy happiness and debunks that classic phrase “money can’t buy happiness.” A classic.
***I Love the Dough contains samples and interpolations of René & Angela’s I Love You More & Rod Stewart’s Do Ya Think I’m Sexy.
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Nashiem Myrick ∙ Carlos Broady
What’s Beef is lyrically about Big telling the rappers that beef isn’t all about insulting each other over records. It’s all about your actions over your words. A classic Biggie record for sure!
***What’s Beef contains samples of I’m Glad You’re Mine by Al Green & Close to You by Richard Evans. The song has been sampled and interpolated by artists like Kanye West, Foxy Brown, DJ Khaled, Charli Baltimore & Meek Mill.
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Anthony Best
C-Gutta, where you at?
B.I.G. is making this cream
Bitches always say what the hell does that mean?
B is for the bitches, who can’t understand
How one fly nigga became a man
I is for the way it goes in and out
One by one I knocks ’em out
G is for the way the game goes in the gutter
Other MC’s man they ain’t sayin’ nuthin’
Rockin’ on, to the break of dawn
Meet the bitch, get the pussy, get the math, I’m gone
[Outro]The Notorious B.I.G., B.I.G. Interlude, 1997
It ain’t no more to it
***B.I.G. Interlude contains a sample of Schoolly D’s P.S.K. What Does It Mean?
Mo Money Mo Problems (featuring Ma$e, Puff Daddy and Kelly Price)
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Sean Combs ∙ Steven Jordan ∙ Mason Betha ∙ Bernard Edwards ∙ Nile Rodgers
Mo Money Mo Problems was released as the second single from the album, and is considered to be one of the most popular songs in hip hop history. Lyrically, the song speak to the troubles that come with wealth, clearly. The song gave Biggie another number one single on the Billboard Hot 100, making him the only artist in the chart’s history to have two number one singles on the chart posthumously.
***Mo Money Mo Problems contains a sample of I’m Coming Out by Diana Ross, and interpolates Only You (Bad Boy Remix) by 112 (featuring Ma$e & The Notorious B.I.G. The song was sampled and interpolated by artists such as Drake, Ariana Grande, Kirk Franklin & The Family, Chris Brown & Lil Kim.
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Nashiem Myrick
Niggas Bleed is a song I really didn’t appreciate until I started this album revisit, and I’m glad I did.
***Niggas Bleed contains a sample of Hey, Who Really Cares by The Whispers and was sampled by The Diplomats’ Dipset Anthem.
I Got a Story to Tell
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Anthony Best
I Got a Story to Tell is top tier hip hop to me, & is truly epic storytelling. Big eloquently describes a situation of sleeping with a Knicks basketball player’s girl, and before they’re caught in the act..he basically robs them to get himself out of the situation.
***I Got a Story to Tell contains a sample of Al Green’s I’m Glad You’re Mine, and was sampled for Give Me Everything by Pitbull & Ne-Yo & Talk That Talk by Rihanna featuring Jay-Z
Notorious Thugs (featuring Bone Thugs-n-Harmony)
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Steven Howse ∙ Anthony Henderson ∙ Bryon McCane ∙ Sean Combs ∙ Steven Jordan
Notorious Thugs kicks off the second part of the album, and is a classic record to me man! It’s one of those songs you can smoke and vibe to. It brought east and west coast rap together as well, speaking that Bone Thugs-n-Harmony are from California. Two acts who have such an impact on hip hop culture on one track was truly iconic as fuck. The song speaks to staying true to themselves and their impact on gangsta rap.
***Notorious Thugs contains a sample of Ohio Players’ More Than Love.
Miss U (featuring 112)
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Kier Gist ∙ Lionel Richie
Miss U is a song that is lyrically about the rapper paying tribute to a close friend who was murdered.
***Miss U contains a sample of Missing You by Diana Ross, and was sampled for Lovin You for Life by Faith Evans & The Notorious B.I.G. featuring Lil Kim & Can You Hear Me by Fabolous.
Another (featuring Lil’ Kim)
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Kimberly Jones ∙ Sean Combs ∙ Steven Jordan
Another is a collaboration between Big & Lil Kim where they touch on situations about a lover being unfaithful.
***Another contains a sample of Another Man by Barbara Mason.
Going Back to Cali
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Osten Harvey Jr ∙ Roger Troutman
Going Back to Cali is a song about Big returning to California and the west coast altogether. The rapper discusses what he loves about the west despite being from the east and the east coast-west coast rivalry that was going on in the hip hop world. The song was released as a double single, peaking at number 3 on the Hot Rap Songs, and peaked in the top 40 on the Hot 100 chart at number 26.
***Going Back to Cali contains a sample of Zapp’s More Bounce to the Ounce, and Lil Kim’s No Time featuring P. Diddy and was sampled for If I Want To by Usher, When We Party by Faith Evans & The Notorious B.I.G. featuring Snoop Dogg.
Ten Crack Commandments
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Christopher Martin ∙ Khary Kimani
Ten Crack Commandments is another classic gem from Life After Death that has Big giving you a tutorial of what it takes to be a successful drug dealer. The song breaks away from the traditional hip hop song, presenting the commandments in a list:
- Never let anyone know how much money you have.
- Never let anyone know your next move.
- Never trust anyone.
- Never use what you sell.
- Never sell where you live.
- Never take credit.
- Keep your family and business completely separated.
- Never keep any crack on you.
- If you aren’t being arrested, stay away from police.
- Consignment is not for novices
***Ten Crack Commandments contains samples of Shut ‘Em Down by Public Enemy, Countdown by Keith Murray and Vallarta by Les McCann and interpolates the structure of the Ten Commandments from the Holy Bible. The song also was sampled for Ten Wife Commandments by Faith Evans & The Notorious B.I.G. & Someone by SWV & Puff Daddy.
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Sean Combs ∙ Steven Jordan ∙ Wilbert Hart
Playa Hater is another gem from the album that I appreciate the older that I get. The sample of The Delfonics’ Hey Love is so top tier & beautifully done. A SONG!
***Playa Hater contains a sample and interpolation of Hey Love by The Delfonics
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Sean Combs ∙ Steven Jordan
Nasty Boy is Big’s version of a Too $hort’s “freaky tales” record.
***Nasty Boy contains a sample of Cavern by Liquid Liquid and was sampled for Nasty Girl by The Notorious B.I.G, featuring Diddy, Nelly, Jagged Edge & Avery Storm.
Sky’s the Limit (featuring 112)
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Rodolfo Franklin ∙ Bobby Caldwell ∙ Hubert Eaves III ∙ James Williams
Sky’s The Limit was released as the third and final single released from the album, and was released as a double single with Going Back to Cali. The rap & R&B influenced record is a rags-to-riches story that details Big’s life and serves as an inspirational record.
***Sky’s the Limit contains samples from the songs My Flame by Bobby Caldwell and Keep On by D. Train.
The World Is Filled… (featuring Too $hort, Puff Daddy and Carl Thomas)
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Deric Angelettie ∙Sean Combs ∙ Kit Walker ∙ Todd Shaw
The World Is Filled… is my song okay! Definitely one of my favorite Big songs production wise. From a lyrical perspective, the song is about pimps, prostitutes and much more. Featuring Puff Daddy, Carl Thomas & Too $hort, they make the song even more fire with their verses
***The World Is Filled contains a sample of Space Talk by Asha Puthli and The What by The Notorious B.I.G. & was interpolated for I Just Wanna Love U (Give It to Me) by Jay-Z
My Downfall (featuring D.M.C.)
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Sean Combs ∙ Darryl McDaniels ∙ Nashiem Myrick ∙ Carlos Broady
My Downfall features D.M.C. of Run D.M.C., and it is a flawless record from the production to the bars.
***My Downfall contains a sample of For the Good Times by Al Green and an interpolation of You’re All I Need to Get By by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. The song was sampled for Woke Up in the Morning by Carl Thomas & Jay Z Blue By Jay-Z.
Long Kiss Goodnight
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Robert Diggs
Long Kiss Goodnight is speculated to have been a diss towards 2Pac & Suge Knight (then CEO of Death Row Records) and the title was inspired by the 1996 film The Long Kiss Goodnight.
***Long Kiss Goodnight contains a sample of Al Green’s The Letter.
You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)
Written by Christopher Wallace ∙ Sean Combs ∙ Steven Jordan ∙Billy Preston ∙ Ephram Lopez ∙ George Johnson
The album closes with the classic You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You,) which is a reference to a classic pop song You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You. The song was thought to have been a jab at Pac speaking that he had recently passed, but I really think people just interpreted it wrong. Lyrically, the song is about how people don’t appreciate you until you’re murdered, and when you think about it, it’s true. When Big & Pac were murdered, they reached a certain type of status of celebrity that they should’ve had during their lifetime. Don’t get me wrong, they were superstars..but they got an abundance of flowers after their murders.
***You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You) contains samples of The 5th Dimension’s The Rainmaker & Flava in Ya Ear (Remix) by Craig Mack & The Notorious B.I.G. featuring Rampage, LL Cool J & Busta Rhymes.
Life After Death was recorded at the rise of Biggie’s success and was only a testament to what could’ve happened if Big was still here. He is still to date one of the greatest rappers to have ever lived and rightfully so. Although it was his final album released during his lifetime, Life After Death lives up to its name. Big’s life lives on even after his untimely murder because the music never dies. -MW.