The Notorious B.I.G. worked with a ton of people during his brief career ranging from Michael Jackson to Mary J. Blige. Vibe.com reached out to several of Biggie’s collaborators to get their thoughts on working with one of hip-hop’s greats.
Biggie kicked off disc two of his second album, Life After Death, with “Notorious Thugs.” The song paired Biggie with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
Layzie Bone: “Puffy called us and said, ‘BIG want y’all on a record.’ We are like, ‘Hell yeah…we coming.’ We end up being in the studio with Biggie all night. We did all of our verses and then BIG was like, ‘You know what? I’m going to take this home.’ When BIG went home we did not hear that record until after he passed.”
Flesh-N-Bone: “Hearing Biggie do our style was incredible. I understood why he had to take it home and study it for a minute. He put his own spin on our Bone flow.”
Krayzie Bone: “It was bitter sweet. Biggie ripped it but we didn’t have the opportunity to tell him how much he ripped it. He came out and did his thing on the song to where he put another notch under his belt because our style is not easy to where you can just say, ‘I’m going to rap like these dudes.’ Especially back then when we were first coming out. For a New York rapper to do our style was a risk. But when he did it that n*gga killed it. New York showed us a lot of love off of that record. ‘Notorious Thugs’ and ‘Crossroads’ are the only songs they played in NYC by Bone. It was Bone and Biggie.”
Hip-hop nerds know that Pete Rock was robbed of inspired the beat for “Juicy.” Pete gives the lowdown on the situation:
Pete Rock: “Due to people just doing business a new way and me being young and not understanding the publishing side of things, I let certain things fall through the cracks [when it came to ‘Juicy’]. Puffy came over with Big and I had the drums playing and Puff was interested in what he heard. He asked me if I was making it for CL Smooth and I was like, ‘Nah.’ Big was standing there, but he was more interested in seeing how I made beats. He was requesting certain interlude beats. He was like, ‘I want this song you put between these two songs on your album.’
I made this beat called ‘In The Flesh’ that was on the Main Ingredient album. And I made that beat in front of Biggie. He was like, ‘Oh sh*t…I just wanted to see how you did it, son.’ He was bugging. But Biggie wasn’t even interested in ‘Juicy.’ Next thing you know, ‘Juicy’ comes out and I don’t get credit. I really felt a way about it after Big passed away. We didn’t get to have the relationship that Premier had with him. I had a lot of music for Big, but it just didn’t happen.”
DMC of Run DMC appeared on Big’s final album on the song “My Downfall,” which was inspired by an old DMC lyric.
DMC: “When I got asked to do a record with Biggie, I was shocked. I got a phone call from Puffy and my manager Eric like, ‘Puffy is looking for you.’ I’m like, ‘Puffy???’ Why the hell is Puffy looking for me for? I don’t dance and I don’t drink Cristal…I drink Ole English [laughs].’ But Puffy calls and says, ‘Yo, Biggie wants you on his chorus. He doesn’t want to sample your voice.’ Biggie thought my line, ‘That’s not all, MC’s have the gall, to pray and pray for my downfall’ was dope. A lot of the really lyrical MC’s like Biggie, Rakim, and Freddie Fox told me, ‘Yo, D…you wasn’t that dude that had to have three 16 bars of fire. You would have one or two statements that could shut motherf*ckers up.’
So I go to Puff’s Daddy’s House studios to meet producer Nashiem [Myrick]. When I finished my part, I was soupped! I’m a humble dude, but I was f*cking soupped because Biggie was huge. Of all the people Biggie could have called Big Daddy Kane or Slick Rick. But he called me. When I spoke to Puff he told me, ‘Imagine Biggie is doing a show and goes, I got a surprise guest for you…a legend!’ And I come out. That would be getting hits on YouTube right now! But unfortunately Biggie passed away, so we never got the chance to perform [‘Pray For My Down Fall’] together. Still, I got to make a record with Biggie Smalls. It was an honor to do that record.”
Read more remembrances of Big from Faith Evans, Jadakiss, and Sheek Louch at Vibe.com!