Coogi sweater? Check. Gucci shades? Check. Insane opening lines? Check, check, check. Biggie was a well-rounded MC. It’s often said that every rapper has about 15 seconds to grab the listener’s attention. Biggie must have had a stop watch in his head because he adhered to this rule religiously, as evidenced by the slew of classic one-liners that kicked off nearly every song. Here’s a selection of his best openers.
10. “Everyday Struggle”
“I know how it feel to wake up fucked up/
Pockets broke as hell, another rock to sell”
Biggie didn’t need an entire song to capture the weight of everyday struggle. He did it in one rhyme. You could visualize him grudgingly dragging his 400 pound body out of bed. “Everyday Struggle” was a portrait of hopelessness and Biggie set the tone from the jump. Contrary to popular belief, though, the story wasn’t autobiographical. It was actually inspired by Big’s childhood friend Henney Loc.
9. “Long Kiss Goodnight”
“I make yo’ mouthpiece obese like Della Reese
When I release, you loose teeth like Lil’ Cease”
Frank White was a big time movie buff. How else do you explain his knack for naming everything after movies? The RZA worked his magic on this track.
“Who the fuck is this paging me at 5:46 in the morning?
Crack of dawning, now I’m yawning”
“Warning” helped establish Big Poppa as one of the most compelling narrators of our time. It’s not a song. It’s a movie titled Paranoia, replete with panoramic views and an innovative soundtrack dubbed “Warning.”
7. “Dead Wrong”
“Relax and take notes, while I take tokes of the marijuana smoke
Throw you in a choke, gun smoke, gun smoke”
Most people who adore “Dead Wrong” can recite the opening bars without breaking a sweat, even they have trouble remembering the rest of the song.
6. “Kick in the Door”
“Your reign on the top was short like leprechauns
As I crush so-called willies, thugs, and rapper-dons”
Big called out tough-talking bad boys on this gem from Life After Death. He wasn’t much for dancing around the issue. He was as subtle as a shot of glass to the dome.
“Hah, sicka than your average Poppa/
Twist cabbage off instinct niggaz don’t think shit stink”
Classic B.I.G. Commence with a boast, conclude with a threat.
4. “Suicidal Thoughts”
When I die, fuck it I wanna go to hell
Cause I’m a piece of shit, it ain’t hard to fuckin’ tell
After many miles of depressing lines, Biggie capped off his classic debut with these cold, suicidal words. It’s the equivalent of starting a gangster flick with a homicide scene.
3. “Who Shot Ya?”
“Who shot ya? /Separate the weak from the obsolete /Hard to creep them Brooklyn streets / It’s on nigga, fuck all that bickering beef / I can hear sweat trickling down your cheek / Your heartbeat sound like Sasquatch feet / Thundering, shaking the concrete”
Biggie swore this wasn’t a shot at 2Pac. Regardless, it sent ripples when Puffy released it shortly after 2Pac was literally shot at Quad Studios. Variations of the introductory line have made appearances on other rap songs since then. Big had that kind of impact.
2. “Flava in Ya Ear” Remix
“Niggas is mad I get more butt than ash trays/
Fuck a fair one, i get mine the fast way”
Whose idea was it to start Biggie on this song? You fucked up. Big pounced on the track like a lion on prey after a group hunt. When he was done, he walked away leaving the carcass sprawling before his helpless collaborators.
1. “Live at MSG Freestyle” (with 2Pac)
“I got 7 Mac-11′s / About eight 38s / Nine 9s, 10 Mac Tens / The shit never ends / You can’t touch my riches / Even if you had MC Hammer and them 357 bitches”
Biggie starts off bragging about his guns, then shifts to a bragfest about his riches. He ties it all together with a reference to MC Hammer and his 357 dancers. The brilliance in that last lies in the double entendre “357”–it alludes to both Oaktown’s 357 group and the 357 Magnum revolver. Wait, who was the other guy on the song?