Some time late in the summer of 1996, a couple of my friends and I began to have a weekly debate based on which album we thought was the best of a trio. It was Illmatic (me) vs. Ready to Die (P) vs. Reasonable Doubt (Reddz) and this debate lasted for two years with not one of us giving an inch. We’d sit on the corner and give our reasons why we thought our pick was the best of those albums and the other two of us would give umpteen reasons why it couldn’t be the best. Well, my man P would say straight up that, “Biggie spits that street sh** perfectly.” To him, it was the perfect club, car and street album since Criminal Minded (his other favorite). And I really couldn’t argue with him on that point. Biggie (and Puffy) knew he had to come out and sell records while still holding down the block. Maybe he saw what happened to Nas with all the critical acclaim but low record sales. Those 5 mics didn’t really help Nas sell in ’94, did they? Maybe he thought of Kool G Rap’s brilliance on the microphone and his inability to sell records as well? Whatever it was, Puffy’s marketing campaign pushed Biggie hard to get to multi-platinum status with elaborate videos, guest spots, remixes, etc. But was/is it a 5 mic classic? I’m sure some of you would agree with P today in saying it is. But just like with Enter the Wu-Tang, I had to agree with The Source (and Miss Info again) and their 4.5 mic rating. I bought this CD in Baltimore on the day it dropped and since that day, I still feel the same way. It just misses the mark for me but 4.5 mics is nothing to sneeze at. What do you think? Is it a classic or not?
Some other highlights from this issue:
– Twin Hype discuss the drama behind their incarceration
– Hip-hop heads experimenting with more than just weed
– Pharoahe Monch with the hip-hop quotable for “Stray Bullet” – That song was so good that Nas just had to bite their concept for “I Gave You Power”.
– Microphone Check with MC Breed, Eightball & MJG, Ill Al Skratch, and 69 Boyz
– The horrorcore hip-hop fad arrives (including The Gravediggaz)
– Mumia Abu Jamal faces the death penalty again
Record report highlights:
– The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die (4.5 mics)
– Common Sense – Resurrection (3.5 mics)
– Extra Prolific – Like It Should Be (4 mics)
– Big Daddy Kane – Daddy’s Home (2 mics)
– Kwest Tha Madd Ladd – This is My First Album (3 mics)
– Boogiemonsters – Riders of the Storm: The Underwater Album (3.5 mics) – This should have been at least 4 mics. What a good album. It’s been in my constant rotation for 14 years.
– UGK – Supertight (3.5 mics)
October 1994 issue part 1
October 1994 issue part 2