F2K is a countdown of the 50 worst songs of the decade. Track our progress here.
It’s a shame the legacy of impossibly gifted MC Notorious B.I.G. is limited to two classic albums and one decent-enough comp–but, hey, better than the Pollard-style recording jags that Tupac has mysteriously maintained over the last decade from his bunker in Afghanistan. Still, Bad Boy needed to wring one more paycheck out of Big Poppa for Duets: The Final Chapter, the 73-minute coal-in-your-stocking-stuffer pegged to Christmas 2005. Executive produced by Diddy on a five minute conference call held between his Broadway run and inventing Danity Kane, the concept was simple: Glue a bunch of random Biggie bullshit together, scribble the word “Notorious” on a CD cover, cash lots of checks. All the Biggie songs that changed your life–now with 100 percent more Korn! Featuring Juelz Santana! And some guy from Boyz N Da Hood!
Produced by Clinton Sparks, second single “Hold Ya Head” teamed Biggie up with Bob Marley–a huge check for both estates even though it was the artistic equivalent of a CGI Fred Astaire sticking his dick in a Dust Devil. In short, this “duet” between two very famous guys doesn’t work at all. Clinton Sparks should have cracked down and had them do a second take or something.
It’s already a cruel juxtaposition matching the most harrowing, self-loathing, nihilistic Biggie track ever (1994’s “Suicidal Thoughts”) with the perennially uplifting voice of Marley. But worse is that the CD version has more crafty edits than Art Of Noise remixing the Watergate tapes. It puts a happy face on the possibility that maybe Biggie Smalls isn’t jamming next to next to Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison in one of those “Rock And Roll Heaven” paintings you see at the flea market:
“When I die, fuck it I wanna go to [REDACTED]/’Cause I’m a piece of shit, it ain’t hard to fuckin’ tell”
Yeah, they took out the word “hell”–presumably because it’s not exactly comforting to think of your hero roasting in a pit of flames next to the sneakered douches in the Heaven’s Gate Cult. But lets face facts.
First: Biggie said this line. It came out of his mouth, honest. You can hear it on one of the most classic albums in history. Its directness was what made it so affecting. Desecrate the line and you’re desecrating Biggie. You might as well just go ahead and photoshop him so he’s 175 pounds.
Second: If you’re gonna go as far as to bring religion into this, it’s impossible to ignore that Biggie was a hardcore blasphemer to the core. Dude one time–no kidding–spit a verse about having intercourse with the Virgin Mary and dumping her body in a sewer. He probably couldn’t piss God off more unless he had some ill freestyle about worshipping false idols that I don’t know about.
Beyond that, this version edits out lines about slitting his wrists, contemplating suicide, and the not-good-on-a-T-shirt line of the year: “I’m glad I’m dead.” You can still listen to the totally classic original track in its proper context at the end of Ready To Die, but we’ll understand if you have to play some Bob Marley in the background to make it through.