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Best album of 1997 | The rest of the Best of 1997
NOTORIOUS B.I.G., Life After Death, Bad Boy
Sadly, this review comes just two weeks after Biggie was gunned down in L.A., giving the album's title and content a new perspective. But on Life After Death, B.I.G. and company show that the formula they perfected in the aftermath of "Big Poppa" and the "One More Chance" remix's success was ready for prime time. The first single, "Hypnotize," is an excellent example as Biggie drops some classic catchphrases over Puffy beats that have advanced considerably since the early days when every one of his remixes sounded the same. "Mo Money Mo Problems" features Mase, Puffy and Diana Ross on the hook and seems destined for endless airplay. "Ten Crack Commandments" uses Chuck D's ubiquitous countdown as a backdrop to Biggie's step-by-step rules to the dope game. "Notorious Thugs" sounded like a scary concept at first, but Biggie holds his own and might even top Bone at their own ultra-fast game. On "Playa Hater," Big and Puffy employ a tactic used to perfection by N.W.A some six years ago by singing -- terribly. Although ominous now, "Goin' Back to Cali" and "You're Nobody ('Til Somebody Kills You)" also stand out. All of the good tracks can't be listed, because there's just too many. But rest assured that although the Notorious B.I.G.'s status will no doubt be elevated by his death, this album's rating isn't. It's a rare double-disc classic.
Click here to find out how to buy this album.

-- Mason Storm

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