Flashback Friday: “Life After Death”

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From here on out, every Friday, we’ll take a look back at the deepest, wackiest, and just plain greatest albums released in our birth years (1995-2000).

The Notorious B.I.G's album life after death has been the root of many conspiracy theories ever since it came out.
The Notorious B.I.G’s album life after death has been the root of many conspiracy theories ever since it came out in 1997, after his unexpected death.

Back in the dark ages of 1997, four years before the iPod, ten years before the iPhone and sixteen years before iOS 7, people listened to their music on non-Apple products like CDs and cassette tapes. If you were a high schooler on March 25th, chances were the brand new Notorious B.I.G. album, “Life After Death,” was sure to be blasting out of your Discman CD Player headphones.

The monstrous Brooklyn rapper, real name Christopher Wallace, had talent that could only be described as B.I.G. “Mo Money, Mo Problems,” the second single released in July, featured two of Biggie’s best friends and then-hip-hop superstars Puff Daddy and Ma$e. It instantly became the jam of the summer, peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart within a month. The catchy beat and laid back rhymes made it the perfect song to play at your get together.

But the release of “Life” wasn’t a big party for anyone.

Sixteen days before the release of the album, The Notorious B.I.G. was murdered in his SUV in Los Angeles. The feud between East Coast and West Coast rappers had already caused the death of another hugely popular rapper, 2Pac, six short months before. Biggie’s death brought people to the record store, as 690,000 grieving fans bought “Life After Death” in its first week.

Fans wonder to this day if Biggie had some sort of supernatural sense of his fate. He named the album “Life After Death.” The song “You’re Nobody (Till Somebody Kills You)” almost prophesies how B.I.G.’s success will lead to his death, and how death will bring him more fame than living. “My Downfall” acknowledges how other “MCs” hate his fame enough to “pray on [his] downfall.”

Despite these coincidences, it might be obvious to those not interested in conspiracies that Big Poppa was no psychic. It wouldn’t be stretching the truth, however, to call him a wizard. From grimy details on street life in “Ten Crack Commandments” to the funky celebration of “Hypnotize”, the album cast a spell over all who listened to it.

There’s a reason why, sixteen years later, today’s biggest names in rap music like Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Ferg call the album “ridiculous” and “so dope.”

It’s because The Notorious B.I.G.’s talent truly enabled him to live past his death.

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A Look Back: 1997

How was Loy Norrix’s football team? 9-2, with a trip to the Regional Finals

What was the most popular car? 1997 Toyota Camry

Who won the Super Bowl? Green Bay Packers

What was the best selling video game? Gran Turismo Racing (Playstation)

How much was gas? $1.26/gal