The Notorious B.I.G.: Ready To Die OG Edition (Mixtape Review)

Every classic album has a story; a background that illuminates the preparation and sacrifices that are required to create a seminal piece of art. In the case of DJ Semi’s Ready To Die (The O.G. Edition), fans are taken on a journey that clearly shows there were clashing ideologies between B.I.G. and executive producer Sean “Diddy” Combs.

As seen on the released version, the then Sean “Puffy” Combs aspired to have a balanced album that not only appealed to East Coast Hip-Hop followers on the corner, but also fans nationwide.

Biggie was unconcerned with that, as evidenced by the amazing alternate versions of our classic Ready To Die tracks. “Gimme the Loot” is included in its uncensored form, complete with Biggie’s feverish taunts to strangle robbery victims and violate pregnant women.

Easy Mo Bee’s “Machine Gun Funk” is replaced by DJ Premier’s signature rhythms, which resembles Nas’ “Represent” in terms of the track’s musical arrangements.

“Ready To Die” is completely reborn with its original beat that was an obvious nod to Tribe Called Quest’s jazz focused boom-bap. The jazzy horns of the chorus and the beat’s looped guitar lick create a better, more ominous atmosphere then the revamped album cut.

Two revered tracks receive intriguing makeovers due to apparent problems clearing samples. “One More Chance” gets altered by including a sample loop of Patti LaBelle’s “All This Love,” while “Me And My B****” loses some of its edge with the more melodic, original sample of Minnie Riperton’s “Take A Little Trip.”

Purists will also note Pete Rock’s version of “Juicy,” a track the legendary producer claims Diddy stole from him after hearing it over his house. Besides some minor alterations in the drum patterns, the song remains unchanged from the well known Diddy produced version. However, Pete was still paid and the track was dubbed a “remix” to prevent any legal ramifications.

For Biggie fans, this release is mandatory and should be viewed as the “bonus disc” to his landmark debut. Here you have everything from demos (“Who Shot Ya,” “Everyday Struggle,” “Friend of Mine”) to previously unreleased tracks (“Whatchu Want,” “Pepsi Freestyle,” “Mac’s N Dons”), to un-cleared sample originals.

Time has shown that Diddy’s key changes to Biggie’s debut and persona paid dividends and launched a legendary career. But that doesn’t mean Hip-Hop can’t celebrate the young, hungry Christopher Wallace that was more concerned with making a hot record for his block as opposed to going mainstream.

The Notorious B.I.G.

"Who Shot Ya (Original Demo)"