Personnel: The Notorious B.I.G., Puff Daddy, Busta Rhymes, Lauryn Hill, DMX, Nas, Method Man, Redman, Lil' Kim, Faith, Too Short, K-Ci, JoJo, Sadat X, Ice Cube, Shyne, G-Dep, Mark Curry, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Hot Boys & Big Timer, Craig Mack, Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot, G-Dep, Lil' Cease, Mobb Deep, Joe Hooker, Black Rob, Beanie Sigel, Junior M.A.F.I.A.
Producers include: Puff Daddy, Chucky Thompson, Mario Winans, Derek “D Dot” Angelettie, DJ Premier.
Engineers include: Roger Che, Michael Patterson, Tom Cassel.
Where would Christopher Wallace/Biggie Smallz/Notorious B.I.G. be today had the rap wars not claimed the large (both livin' and size) rapper? It's the eternal James Dean question–how much of the myth comes from the tragedy and how much of the tragedy comes from the myth. These questions can never be answered to any satisfaction, though it's only fair to recall that Biggie had sold millions of records and seen the top of Billboard's album and pop singles charts long before he went out bigger than his life. On BORN AGAIN, the whole rap world turns out to pay tribute at this latest reverent, raucous wake.
Biggie still eerily fills the center of this rap universe with Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Busta Rhymes, and other luminaries from both coasts and various camps filling in the rhymes around him. Tracks like the Duran Duran-sampled “Notorious B.I.G.” and “Dead Wrong” are perfect showcases for Biggie's patented lumbering and relaxed baritone flow. BORN AGAIN proves not whether the man would stand atop the hip-hop hierarchy had he lived, but reveals the amount of love felt for the Notorious B.I.G. and reminds us of what he was capable if only…
What the critics say…
Rolling Stone (1/20/00, pp.55–6) – 3 stars out of 5 – “…new beats…laid under old B.I.G. rhymes…The real find here is the awesome ‘Dead Wrong’, which shows B.I.G. in his prime…the rhymes here are tight, like a great actor who shines even in a bad movie…” Entertainment Weekly (1/14/00, pp.73–4) – “…a wonder of posthumous record-making…[It] not only makes Biggie seem alive, but it sounds like the album he might have made had he lived…it's a hammering jam…” – Rating: B+ Q (3/00, p.122) – 3 stars out of 5 Muzik (2/00, p.73) – 3 stars out of 5 – “…a posthumous rag bag of tracks put out partly as a tribute and partly to finally clear the cupboard of Biggie material…the CD's skillfully compiled and features virtually every big name in rap. If you're a fan you'll want it…” CMJ (12/27/99, p.26) – “…it's good to hear some new verses from one of the most solid MCs to rock the mic. Highlights…include ‘Dead Wrong’ (with Eminem), ‘Niggas’ and the vinyl-only ‘95 classic 'Who Shot Ya’.” The Source (3/00, p.256) – 3 mics out of 5 – “…a few good records' worth of Biggie's out-takes, recycled verses and doctored lyrics…compiling some of the most awkward collaborations of his career…When it's over, you'll realize that there ain't no bringin' him back…” Urban Latino (1/00, p.82) – 4 out of 4 – “…the first post-mortem album, made up of remixes and unreleased tracks from READY TO DIE and LIFE AFTER DEATH…a worthy purchase…” NME (Magazine) (1/15/00, p.29) – “…there's full showcasing of the BIG style, and others where his presence is a bit slighter. It's the only time BIG had a slight presence in anything.”