Life after death? We all strive for something more when we leave this earth, whether it’s eternal life through our faith, living forever through our impact on the masses, or simply leaving our loved ones with fond memories to remain forever in their hearts. 18 years. That’s how long it’s been since Biggie’s eerily prophetic Life After Death was unveiled to the world. The last chapter of a legacy, the end of an era, and yet the effects of this gifted MC’s rhymes continues to reverberate through the Hip Hop community, like a forever beating drum, marking the everlasting presence of one of the greatest MC’s to ever bless the mic. Lifestyle or shortcomings aside, Big has certainly achieved life after death.
With vivid imagery worthy of the box office and tales of street woes conveyed with such sincerity and realism, listening to LAD would almost make you believe that you were a witness to all of the chaos on the Brooklyn block. Biggie really displays this ability on the track “Somebody’s Gotta Die” in which he details an attempt for revenge gone much awry- an occurrence which is still very much a harsh reality in many communities across America. And still he manages to release this dark tension through much of the album with tracks like the chuckle-inducing “Kick in the Door” and “I Got a Story to Tell”. Biggie also lives up to his playa rep by making sure not to leave the ladies in the cold, with the feel good sing along “Hypnotize”, “F*ck You Tonight” featuring R. Kelly, and the all too relatable “Another”.
Also, included in this project is an all-star ensemble of features such as R. Kelly, The Lox, Jay- Z, and Too Short. Certainly making their presence felt on the album are Bone Thugs-N- Harmony, being featured on what in my opinion is the standout track of the album on the better disc of the two. In fact, “Notorious Thugs” displays about the best combination of lyricism, flow, and production that you will ever hear. The chemistry between Biggie and Bone Thugs is brilliant; all delivered over beautiful pianos and roaring bass lines. Another standout track that displays such skillful production is the inspirational “Sky’s the Limit”. I always get an unexplainable feeling from this one and find the inspiration to achieve my goals in times of doubt. This track is also a great change of pace from the harshness and hedonism of much of the album, no matter how great the production and flows are throughout. “The World is Filled” is also of note in the change in pace of the production. Too Short, true to form, provides classic commentary on “the world being filled with pimps and hoes” and Puffy delivers a solid verse as well.
So where does Life After Death sit in the annals of time? A classic delivered by a gifted man, pivotal to the development of this profound, diverse culture we call Hip Hop. I often times find myself in debate over which is greater, Ready to Die or Life After Death, but does it really matter? Both are landmarks of a great talent, which ironically mark the beginning and end of an influential career. And despite this overarching theme of death, he still lives on. Life After Death.