To say that Ready To Die is just as vital as Illmatic even when one considers the stylistic differences between Biggie and Nas, would not be a reach. Sure, the hits for Big have been, in some circles, lazy fallbacks to get a requisite “Oh Sh*t” from the aunties and uncles at the old-head function. But taken as a whole, Biggie’s debut album put on display the dichotomous lives of young Black men in America. An America that celebrates success in excess, yet how the glory fame provides doesn’t upend one’s roots or troubles, especially those that run Brooklyn deep.
The album’s sound holds up well, as The Trackmasters, Chucky Thompson, Lord Finesse, Bluez Brothers, and Darnell Scott gave Biggie their best and he matched them effortlessly. It may not top the best debut of all-time lists for many, but it for damn sure needs to somewhere close to the top.
Ready To Die showed the promise and hunger of Biggies Smalls and it is frustrating to wonder what would have happened had he survived that hail of gunfire in 1997. Instead of dwelling on the what-ifs, we’ll instead press play on the album and transport ourselves to 1994 when all that mattered more than anything was if the songs were dope.
The Hip-Hop Wired crew chimed in with their thoughts on Ready To Die, and it is clear that we share the same appreciation for this classic body of work. We thank you for sharing this journey with us.
“I still remember vividly my mans Will from around the way excitedly telling me how dope Ready To Die was, and I thoroughly agreed. However, he was also furious that “Dreams” wasn’t on the album. All that to say, you can’t please everybody, but Biggie was the King of New York, period.” — Alvin “Aqua” Blanco, Managing Editor. [Will, the remaster of the LP did you right by adding it as a bonus!]
“When ‘Ready To Die’ dropped it was during my freshman year in high school when for the first time in my life, I had to attend a school outside my Brooklyn hood where I wouldn’t know anybody. Biggie accompanied me every day on my train ride back and forth from my Manhattan school and gave an overweight teenager the confidence to bop with his head held high and even talk to pretty girls in the school hallways. Getting them was another story on its own but when I was finally able to get one back to my honeycomb hideout, I credited Biggie for that ’cause he made being big attractive for a minute. Best believe I took advantage of that opening. Thanks, Big. R.I.P.” — O, Contributing Writer.
“Ready To Die was one of the first Rap albums I listened to in my youth. The album made me feel proud to be from Brooklyn, especially knowing that one of the best rappers was holding us down. Ready To Die told a story of rags to riches and gave us particular moments we could relate to growing up in the hood. PLUS, we got “Juicy” and “One More Chance” from that joint. — Bernard “Beanz” Smalls, Gaming/Tech Writer & Men’s Lifestyle & Pop Culture.
“While the Bad Boy Entertainment wave played a major part in elevating the original 17-track release, there is no denying that Ready To Die plays an integral part to the 90’s Hip-Hop story arc. B.I.G. should be recognized as a trendsetter who will forever have an indelible influence on the culture.” — Martin Berrios, Contributing Writer.
“Biggie’s album not only provided party jams, he successfully helped Hip-Hop shift to a whole different wave. That’s just how influential this album was and still is.” — Tiffany Hamilton, Contributing Writer.
Stream Ready To Die below.