Monday, September 12, 2011

90's Hit Parade #30

Notorious B.I.G. - Party and Bullshit

A recurring theme in this countdown is how I've belatedly come to appreciate a lot of mid-90's rap like The Chronic and Nas that I didn't pay much attention to at the time. And here is my most egregious oversight. I guess Puffy's glitzy R-n-B grooves didn't appeal to me at the time, as I was still waiting for someone to one-up The Bomb Squad, so I never really listened to Biggie, even when he was within earshot. When I started hearing him lauded as one of the greatest MC's of all time shortly after his death, I chalked it up to post-mortem hyperbole. Then, maybe a decade ago, I got an mp3 of this song off of some blog and finally HEARD it. And I can't believe what I'd been missing.

Now, compared to, say, a Chuck D or Kool Moe Dee or someone, Biggie doesn't sound like he's trying that hard. If you listen, there's a lot of clever shit going on there, and he projects it like a motherfucker, but it just sounds effortless. There are some musicians who claim they don't know where their music comes from, that it just comes through them like the Holy Spirit. I bet that's how Biggie felt. Like, you ever hear that quote from Michaelangelo, that he looks at a slab of marble and just chips away everything that's not the sculpture? That's how perfect this rap feels, like every word is just the exact right word to go in that spot, and all Biggie had to do was say the right words. There's a zen to the way he fits it all right in the pocket, and there's also a bouncy thing going on, which might be why this particular song appeals to me so much. That boppity beat fits Biggie's bouncy lyrics so well that it feels like one thing: the bounce of the beat, the bounce of the lyrics, the bounce of the fat rolls under his shirt, all one big, perfect motion.

By the way, the sample source for that chorus:


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