Biggie, Method Man & Redman Are 3 Eternal Rap Phenomenons (Audio)

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In the life and times of The Notorious B.I.G., outside of his Bad Boy and Junior M.A.F.I.A. families, two close associates were Method Man and Redman. Long before album plans existed from the members of Wu-Tang Clan and Def Squad, respectively, they were rolling with Biggie Smalls to concerts and around the Northeast. Meth’ made a critical early appearance on Ready To Die, while Reggie Noble was photographed beside B.I.G. and Tupac at the same time. All three were legendary early 1990s additions to the Rap scene, and everlasting ones at that.

After Biggie was tragically murdered in 1997, Bad Boy Records released Life After Death, the double-album B.I.G. was promoting at the time of his death. That effort would join the elite class of diamond-certified Rap/Hip-Hop releases, and become a must-own classic in the eyes (and ears) of many.

In late 1999, Bad Boy followed with the first Biggie album created after his death. Unlike his friend-turned-foe Tupac, Christopher Wallace did not store vaults of unreleased music. Instead, the loquacious MC who is said to have memorized his rhymes without writing them down was a creature of revision and detailed production—a trait not always true of ‘Pac. While Death Row Records released ‘Pac albums for almost a decade following his death, Bad Boy made their BIGgest tribute statement with Born Again.

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“Rap Phenomenon” is one of the jewels included in those 18 tracks. Gang Starr’s DJ Premier, an integral part of Ready To Die and Life After Death was tapped to lace a track pairing B.I.G. with Red’ & Meth’. A calendar year after Gang Starr’s Moment Of Truth, Preemo appeared to be in pinnacle form—with a dense layer of samples, scratches, and those hard drums.

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The Biggie verses in the song originally belong to Tracey Lee’s “Keep Your Hands High.” He mentions M.A.F.I.A. manager Lance “Un” Rivera, right-hand-man Lil’ Cease, Indiana Pacers shooter Reggie Miller, and several of his earlier catalog gems—in a re-purposing that is some masterful slice-and-splice editing. Red’ bookends the two Biggie verses, with M-E-T-H playing cleanup. Recorded less than four years after the Def Jam label-mates appeared with ‘Pac, this track is a testament to Red’ and Meth’s universality, as much it is Biggie’s impact. Even if the song was something of a test lab creation, it shows how all three MCs are committed to raw lyrics, and even synthetically, sounded incredible together.

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Born Again would debut at #1 in late ’99. Eminem, Snoop Dogg, and Sadat X were among guests. Outside of Preemo, DJ Clark Kent, and the Bad Boy Hitmen, a young Nottz got a major look producing a track on the album.