I lived through the beginning of RAP music, originating from the Bronx in the late 70’s believe it or not it was called “Disco Rap” and to rockers aficionados like myself it was heresy. Sure, by the time Sugar Hill Gang came around with “Rapper’s Delight” I was too able to sing it all the way through its seemingly endless 4:55 original album version. But that was that, and I fundamentally ignored it from there till along came September 1994 and while on an away trip with my Football team one of the players handed me over his Walkman EX 102 and Biggie Smalls aka Notorious B.I.G. came roaring out of the headphones and punched me in the guts.
Vulgar yes, violent yes, senseless perhaps but there was something dramatic about it. At first there is nothing of particular distinction about this record, his voice, the lyrics you could understand, and while I could not relate, I could sense the neighborhood, the danger looming, the bravado needed to survive, live and succeed in this world, his world.
Song after song, like a novel, the record read like a book and one could simply not interrupt it, and when Side A went “click” I was actually upset! And immediately flipped the tape over. It was instant love and I purchased it on vinyl within two days and have never put it down since.
It is an album of historical significance, the re-birth of East Coast Rap and the launching pad for Sean “Puffy” Combs into the musical stratosphere. But for me none of this mattered or played a part in my enjoyment of this record because then as now, I can simply devour this record from beginning to end with an ease that only one other Hip Hop album has been able to do (more on this other Hip Hop album later on in my list).
If you are a non-native speaker or struggle with English I can see why this record can be difficult to appreciate as the lyrics certainly use a lot of street language that is not easy to translate, however do make an effort and I assure you that you will walk away with a different appreciation for this often contradictory genre.
A future Hall Of Fame record.