Posted by: vincentlopez | August 18, 2008

Biggie’s Ready to Die ~ Only 4.5 mics???

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 SenseResurrection (3.5 mics)

Extra ProlificLike It Should Be (4 mics)

Big Daddy KaneDaddy’s Home (2 mics)

Kwest Tha Madd LaddThis is My First Album (3 mics)

BoogiemonstersRiders 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.

UGKSupertight (3.5 mics)


October 1994 issue part 1


October 1994 issue part 2





  1. What about the Common review? That is one of my top albums of all time. How can anyone dis the production the way they do in that review? Anything less than “perfect” is a dis in my book.

    And one interesting thing about that Boogiemonsters album… My friends and I talked with Vex about this at a hip hop convention one year. He said that the label hated the album they submitted and so they added all this instrumentation to the songs. The original record had stripped down versions of those songs!! Imagine if they had released that? We would not be talking up the Boogiemonsters like we are now – that album is fantastic. Probably the ONLY time label interference actually HELPED a project.

    And, you can can hear it in their second album and Vex’s solo albums – they are weak compared to it (and in the case of his solo album, the beats are flat out boring).

  2. Of course it’s a classic. It changed the whole landscape of East Coast music @ that time. How does a rookie even get considered to be the “king.” Yeah, it’s that good. On paper, I’ve never been completely sold on “Friend Of Mine” but @ the end of the day, it’s water under the bridge. Gotta give it the 5.

    Out of the trio, it’s Illmatic without a doubt.

    And Resurrection is one of Common’s weakest albums. It already lags towards the end of none of the songs come close to matching the feel of “I Used To Love H.E.R.” (a standard set within the album to Common’s disadvantage) and then imagine listening to that and then Ready To Die….man no contest.

  3. yo i wouldnt even argue about which of those 3 albums is the best. All 3 are classics, so i wouldnt even bother.
    That Biggie was a 5 mic album, heck even 10 mics! That album just ushered in a new era of hip-hop, i cant even explain that album and how much impact it had. And credit Puff for doin his thang. This was when Puff was just focused on music and nothin else. I miss that Puff, i wonder where he went. But Puff had that formula of makin classic records at that time. Not only was he doing Big’s album but he was damn near workin wit everybody at that time whether it was hip-hop or R&B.
    And Big knew what to do, he was ahead of his time. he didnt even graduate from HS and he had the rap game figured out. not only on the music side but the business as well!

    That Common Sense album is more than 3.5 mics. 3.5 mics? are u kiddin me? WTF
    Also that Extra Prolific album is a classic, that to me is a 5 mic as well. Yall can say what yall want, that album is dope. i been jammin that for a couple of months now!

  4. Im with ya on this one brotha, Ready to Die gets 4.5/5 from me. As you said it perfectly, just didn’t have the perfect 5/5 feel to me.

    And the Common album im with Nathan on that one, it deserves a bit more then 3.5!!

    peace and thanks as always

  5. I think Big’s style and influence is more indelible than Ready To Die. That’s a great album no doubt, but there are some duds on there. There are great moments and quotables for days. I can go either way and I understand both points of view. In retrospect, it’s 5 mics but at the time I can see why it got 4.5.

    I think Resurrection is one of the best lyrical albums ever. Musically, it hasn’t aged well. No ID is one of my favorite producers EVER and it’s no disrespect. I think it’s a classic for sure, but it’s not perfect and doesn’t have the lasting influence of RTD, Illmatic, and RD. I’d give Resurrection 4 mics

  6. What duds are on Ready To Die?

  7. As others before me have said, Resurrection is definitely not a 3.5 mic album. I actually know someone who feels it’s the GOAT hip-hop album, and although I disagree, I think it deserves to be somewhere between 4 and 4.5 mics (for the same reasons as Zilla Rocca). Extra P is a solid 4 mics, I’ve been bumping that album a lot, might even do a write up on it.

  8. This is a really cool site. The layout,design and naviagation are very clean. I like it!

  9. Notorious B.I.G-Ready To Die: Should have been 5/5 instead of 4.5/5.
    Common-Resurrection: Should have been 5/5 instead of 3.5/5.
    UGK-Supertight: Should have been 4.5/5 instead of 3.5/5.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: