DJ Vlad and Dirty Harry do their part to keep Big’s memory alive by adding new flavor to some of his classic songs. On The Notorious B.I.G.: Rap Phenomenon,they’ve blended his lyrics with new beats, rehashed famous freestyles, featured some obscure mixtape songs that have been forgotten, and included interviews from Big himself and some celebrities he touched.
“Me and Harry hooked up through a mutual friend,” Vlad, who is also the DJ for reggae legend Barrington Levy, said about how the collaboration came about. “Harry had access to a lot of the Biggie a cappellas. I presented him the idea for this project and over the course of a month we put it together. We tried to make it different from other Biggie mixtapes. The first 20 minutes are straight remixes we made.”
Early in the mixtape, one of the first jams that introduced Biggie, “Party and Bullsh–,” is blended with Nas’ “Made You Look.” Elsewhere, Big’s verse from the officially unreleased “Think Big,” which had cameo appearances by Pudgee and Lord Tariq, is featured.
“I’m inviting you/ Bring your writing crew and they dopest rhymes/ I get up in that ass every time,” Big rhymes on the track, bending words with his seamless flow while computerized chimes blanket his voice. “Lyrically I’m untouchable, uncrushable …”
Throughout the mixtape, you can reminisce about just how invulnerable the president of hip-hop’s playa club was on songs like Da Brat’s “Da B-Side,” “Runnin,” which was recorded with Tupac Shakur, and “Can’t Stop the Reign,” a duet with Shaquille O’Neal.
Some of Big’s vocals from the latter song were featured on Michael Jackson’s Invincible LP. “I’m knee deep with killers, about million dollar figures … / Cream lizards, cream Coogies, I do my duty, as long as they high as me, as fly as me.”
Rap Phenomenon ends with Biggie talking with MTV’s own Sway, discussing what he learned from Tupac Shakur about the music business and Pac’s ideas about a Bad Boy conspiracy.
Pretty soon, you’ll get to hear even more reworkings of Notorious B.I.G. songs. P. Diddy is planning to release a Biggie duet album this year. The music mogul hasn’t revealed too much about the LP, though he did say that he’ll use a technique, not too dissimilar from the blending technique, where he’ll take lyrics from the slain rap king’s classic songs and marry them with new beats. He’s also planning to have guest stars perform on the reinvented tunes.
For a full-length feature on mixtape culture and the role of mixtapes in making a rapper’s career, check out “Mixtapes: The Other Music Industry.”
For other artists featured in Mixtape Mondays, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines.