Production work has begun on the first posthumous collection of songs by slain rapper the Notorious B.I.G.
Jessica Rivera, the director of production for Bad Boy Entertainment, said Born Again -- featuring touched up and remixed versions of previously unreleased tracks by the artist -- is tentatively scheduled to be issued by the label in late June. Work on the album, however, is only in its beginning stages, Rivera said.
"[Bad Boy executives] have been discussing this for a long time," she said. "There's a lot of material on the table."
Rivera said the label -- after investigating its archives and scouring New York for the Notorious B.I.G.'s underground pre-Bad Boy work and demos -- has amassed more than 50 tracks by the rapper also known as Biggie Smalls. From that wealth of material the label's in-house production team -- the Hitmen, Bad Boy CEO Sean "Puffy" Combs and others -- will assemble the album by remixing and revising the old tapes.
Tying together whatever songs are included in the album's final running order is Voletta Wallace, the rapper's mother. Bad Boy publicist Lisa Donadio said Wallace would serve as narrator, detailing her son's childhood and growth as a professional rapper, in between the selections.
Biggie Smalls (born Christopher Wallace) was shot and killed March 9,
1997, at age 24, as he and others were leaving a party following the
Soul Train Awards in Los Angeles. The murder remains unsolved.
His death came as he prepared to release Life or Death, a double album that included "Somebody's Gotta Die" and
(RealAudio excerpt). He became popular in 1994 with Ready to Die,
an album whose alternating images of ghetto and party life made him a
best-selling pop star.
Dressed in a pink evening gown and flashing a smile, Wallace attended a
tribute to the Notorious B.I.G. at Pier 60 in New York last week. She
said she was looking forward to revisiting her son's unreleased catalog
and performing her role on the album.
"It's going to be a good album," she said. "There may be another one
Wallace started the Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation last year to
raise money for the improvement of day-care centers and schools and the
development of in-school programs, starting with institutions in Wallace's
native Brooklyn, N.Y.
"I started where Christopher was born, where he grew up, where he lived
his young life, where I lived," Wallace said. "So naturally I'm starting
there. I'm starting at the schools he attended, the after-school programs
and day-care centers that he attended."
Shyne -- the 19-year-old rapper whose debut album, The Truth,
comes out on Bad Boy later this year -- spoke glowingly of the Notorious
B.I.G. at last week's tribute. "He was able to translate urban life to
the person working on Wall Street, people in suburbia," Shyne said. "And
that's excellent, because we needed that ambassador to feel our pain."
SonicNet Contributing Editor Dakota Smith contributed to this report.