Saturday, 21 July 2018

Notorious B.I.G "Born Again" (1999)


Released two years after his death, Born Again is the first truly posthumous album from the late rapper Notorious B.I.G, a record produced without his input. Its a trend set off by his west coast rival Tupac who was also assassinated in wake of the unfortunate 90s coast beef. The record came to be thanks to Puffy Daddy and his Bad Boy Records, who pulled together a collection of Biggies early demo tape raps and freestyles, pairing him up with other big names in the rap scene. Its also home to the classic self titled song, the first of his I heard, I still remember downloading it from Napster as a kid!

A whole host of names drop onto the record, bringing their A game with tight verses and paying their respects to the great resurrected rhymes of Biggie who has a lot of great material in the vaults. The production is of its time, tightly programmed beats that mostly have bold, punchy, upfront instruments with an occasional touch of aggression. Variety leaves some space for a couple of summery tracks and funky upbeat vibes too but its mostly playing into the street life vibes with an edge of Mafioso Rap, playing close to what can be heard from two years earlier.

The record doesn't try to be more than it is with any overbearing themes or concepts. Each song is its own bubble and on quite a few tracks you can hear some disconnect between the tone and delivery of Biggies rhymes and the backing music but even then it still sounds good. It was really enjoyable to hear more of the late and great rapper. His guest brought excitement too, Eminem turns up with a ghastly verse on the harsh Dead Wrong. Juvenile and B.G. of the Cash Money crew represent the south, Busta Rhymes, Craig Mack, Nas, Mobb Deep, Method Man of the Wu-Tang Clan and even Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg of the west coast join in paying tribute. Its a fitting farewell but far from a classic, just a solid collection of songs that any fan can pick some favorites from. The following Duets I have not heard anything good of though.

Favorite Tracks: Notorious B.I.G, Dead Wrong, Tonight, I Really Want To Show You
Rating: 6/10

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