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Kanye Hated “Juicy”, So What Are Biggie’s 5 Best Beats?

Posted by Lucas G. on 12/04/13 | Filed under Top Stories, Opinion, Debates, Production Breakdown, Notorious B.I.G

As of last week, RefinedHype has put an official ban on any Kanye interview quotes. We could dedicate a whole site to them, but since there isn’t much left to the conversation of Kanye being "crazy", it wouldn’t make sense to keep talking about it. So before Nathan fires me for violating a Refined Hype law—although if I didn’t get fired for co-signing Bieber, so I probably wont for this—I am not here debating Kanye in all his glory but I am however taking one thing he said and seeing if it's true. Kanye got to talking about Notorious B.I.G and what he said might raise an eyebrow or two. You can watch the whole shebangabang here, but the excerpt in question is below.

Man that 'Juicy' beat, I don’t like that beat man, and I don’t like the beat for ['Big Poppa']…I don’t like the Dr. Dre worm noise on the chorus at all, to this day when they play it. And I don't imagine Biggie liked it that much either. But Biggie was so cold, that he could make you like anything.

Well, he is definitely right about one thing, Biggie was so cold, anything he touched was hotter than a thousand suns, but saying the beat on “Juicy” and “Big Poppa” are whack feels a little blasphemous. I mean those are two of Biggie’s biggest hits, certifiable classics, so to say the production is weak seems crazy. Are they the best beats ever? No—in fact the “Juicy” beat is pretty basic—but flat out saying they aren’t likeable is a stretch…or is it? To see if Kanye was gone off Kimmy K’s breast milk, I decided to rank the Top 5 Biggie beats. Will “Big Poppa” and “Juicy” make it?

“Notorious Thugs” Prod. Stevie J and Puff Daddy

Honestly, this fifth slot is really a toss up. There are just so many to choose from like "Who Shot Ya?” or “Ten Crack Commandments” but I have to go with a sleeper pick and choose “Notorious Thugs”. A lot of B.I.G’s beats are relatively unchanging—“Ten Crack Commandments” is dope but it is isn’t very complex—and they follow a basic pattern; they still knock though. What always gets me about “Notorious Thugs” is the beats inherent diversity. It too doesn’t have a whole heck of a lot to it—although the sound is more layered—but the fact that it can fit the flows of both Biggie and Bone Thugs is astounding to me. Their approaches are completely opposite, B.I.G with his heavy-handed voice and Krazyie with a rapid fire flow, but both sound right a home on this beat. Truly an accomplishment from a production stand point.  

“Sky’s The Limit” Prod. Clark Kent

What always gets me about B.I.G is his versatility. He can fuck your world up on some aggressive, hostile stuff, but some of his best work comes atop a much softer, R&B-esque sound;  “Sky’s The Limit” is the best example of this. The soft, swooning beat (and the backup vocals from 112) are polar opposites of Biggie’s flow, but they sound so perfect together. It is hard to judge Biggie beats since his flow is what drives almost every track, but “Sky’s The Limit” is one of the few that grab me before Biggie even spit. There is something so soulful about this beat and every listen sounds like the first one.

“Everyday Struggle” Prod.  Bluez Brothas

For me, “Everyday Struggle” is all about the juxtaposition. Biggie’s lyrics—drug runs, murder, and his lady going to jail—are gritty as ever and if you just read the lyrics, you would expect a gritty, unapologetic beat. However, Bluez Brothas’ beat couldn’t be more smooth. It has that trademark 90’s sound and is more Souls Of Mischief than B.I.G, but still it works perfectly. You wouldn’t think such a feel-good, breezy beat could work with such a  dark song but it does. I don’t know if credit goes to the producer or the emcee but either way, the beat on “Everyday Struggle” is beyond dope.

“Hypnotize” prod. The Mad Rapper

You could put this beat on a loop for 4 hours and I don’t think I would have trouble listening  it. It is so simple and bare-bones but so fucking effective; I wanna go nuts whenever I hear it. There isn’t a lot to it, just that booming baseline cut by the whirring guitar, but the stark yet cutting vibe is such a unique flavor. Beats this powerful often need a lot of bells and whistles and drastic changes to keep the energy up, but not The Mad Rapper’s boardwork. Even with a straightforward, lopped approach this beat never dies and is just a fresh after 4 minutes as it is after 4 seconds.

“Kick In The Door” Prod. DJ Premier

THAT FUCKING SCREAMIN JAY HAWKINS SAMPLE!!!! Oh my lord does this ever go. I get chills every time I hear that sample. This folks is how you sample. Premo took the sample, captured the passion and fire in it, but didn’t let it take over the beat; he adding his own effects (that dope echoing sond) to give it a more gritty, hip-hop flavor. I tend to like Big over softer beats—often the harder ones don’t do his voice justice so its best to go the other, softer, route— but this beat grabs B.I.G’ essence perfectly. Most of B.I.G’s tracks are driven by the vocals but this is the ultimate 1-2 punch; they work together to blow your mind and Biggie doesn’t have to do all the heavy lifting. Fuck it, I’ll say it, B.I.G’s best beat.

So I guess Kanye is right…well…partially. Sure “Big Poppa” and “Juicy” aren’t in the top five (although “Big Poppa” is close) but that doesn’t mean the beats aren’t good; they know their role very well. B.I.G has such an incredible potent flow, he doesn’t need a lot of production gimmicks to get his point across  the strength of his work come form his flow and the best beats work around it  instead of having B.I.G change his style for them. Don’t worry “Juicy” is still the best hip-hop song ever made.

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