The late Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie Smalls, was an artist whose larger-than-life persona and superb storytelling abilities immortalized his name in the annals of hip-hop. His collaborations were no less impactful, teaming up with a wide range of artists, from fellow legends like Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg, to the smooth vocals of R&B powerhouses like R. Kelly and Mary J. Blige. Even alternative rock band KoRn got the Biggie treatment.
One of Biggie’s greatest achievements was crossing the borders of genre, styling, and flow, while maintaining his own distinct lyrical style. This was especially visible in his collaborations with rapper and mentee Lil’ Kim, the streetwise aesthetic of Mobb Deep, or the laid-back steez of West Coast dons like Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube. These joint efforts not only exemplified Biggie’s versatility but also highlighted the other artists’ talents, creating unique pieces in the hip-hop mosaic.
Appearances by heavy hitters Eminem, 2Pac, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony on Biggie tracks further illuminate the respect and admiration his peers held for him. And let’s not forget our generation’s artists who have benefitted from Biggie’s legacy – Lil Wayne, T.I., and Akon, for example – they too, pay homage to the Bed-Stuy icon through their collaborations long after his untimely departure.
The following list of great artists has have the honour of collaborating with Biggie’s flawless flow and rhyme:
K-Ci & JoJo
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels
|Big Gee of Boyz N Da Hood
Ty Dolla $ign
Mary J. Blige
Bob Marley & The Wailers
So let’s get into the collabs list. From to ‘Let Me Get Down’ to “Mo Money Mo Problems’, here are top 10 best The Notorious B.I.G. collaborations ranked.
10. Dead Wrong (feat. Eminem)
It’s a grim testament to Biggie’s storytelling prowess, mingling with Eminem’s razor-edge lyricism. This posthumous cut sees both rappers spewing ghoulish tales, a cutthroat relay wherein Biggie’s eerily impassive morbidity meets Em’s manic urgency. It’s like listening to a crime docu-drama unravel in verse. Biggie sets it off, his flow smooth as silk against the simplistic, haunting backdrop, education about the grimy side of the hustle. Eminem then slips in, hurling verses like rapid-fire, his rhymes filled with cinematic horror that’s become his signature.
9. Living in Pain (feat. 2Pac, Mary J. Blige & Nas)
WIth 2Pac, Mary J. Blige, Biggie and Nas, and it’s hands down one of Biggie’s most valuable contributions to the hip-hop world. A post-mortem fusion of East and West coast heavyweights, the track is awash with raw and potent lyricism where each artist shines as they unmask the harsh realities and psychological torment that comes with life on the streets. Biggie, ever the master storyteller, 2Pac, in his uncompromising style, Nas’ verse brings a contemplative awareness to the song, meanwhile, Mary J. Blige’s haunting hook underscores the darkness surrounding them.
8. Notorious Thugs (feat. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony)
This boldly resonating track brings together the heavyweight storytelling prowess of The Notorious B.I.G. intertwined with the rapid, harmonic flow of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Over the track’s running time, Biggie and Bone Thugs forge a sultry blend of East Coast lyricism and Midwestern chopper style, painting vivid images of the gritty realities of street life.
7. Notorious B.I.G. (feat. Lil’ Kim & Puff Daddy)
The song presents a vivid image of Biggie’s life, highlighting his triumphs against adversity, extravagant lifestyle, and indomitable spirit. Biggie lays bare his unabashed love for ‘the life’, making it clear he has no qualms about his hustler ways. Lil’ Kim’s verses showcase her own ascendance in the ruthlessly competitive world of hip-hop, asserting her position as the ‘Queen Bitch’ of the game.
6. 1970 Somethin’ (feat. The Game & Faith Evans)
Here we have a potent dose of pure, unadulterated storytelling from the Notorious B.I.G., laced with a rich tapestry of his past. It’s a jaunt down memory lane, as Biggie narrates his birth, journey, and destiny with rap becoming an integral part of his life. His mother’s struggles, his own tough upbringing, and his ambitious dreams of escaping hardship are narrated with eery foretelling. B.I.G establishes himself as a destined ‘Bad Boy’ from his birth, a prediction given by his doctor signaling his destined path.
5. Sky’s the Limit (feat. 112)
This is Big at his storytelling best, lucidly painting the picture of an underdog turned victor. Start-to-finish, the track’s a metaphor for his own journey from the streets of Bed-Stuy to the apex of the hip-hop game. Biggie’s verses are laced with tales of struggle, perseverance and triumph, brilliantly capturing the essence of his come-up.
4. Get Money (feat. Junior M.A.F.I.A.)
A definitive anthem in The Notorious B.I.G.’s repertoire. Breaking down the lyrics, this joint is all about the relentless pursuit of wealth, peppered with the gritty realities of Biggie’s life. The narrative unfolds piece by piece as he delves into tales of loyalty, mistrust, and the paradoxical quest for power and respect.
3. Hold Ya Head (feat. Bob Marley)
It combines the latter’s soul-stirring refrain from “Johnny Was” with Biggie’s raw introspection. The Notorious B.I.G. lays bare his soul’s darkest corners, contemplating his mortal sins and the prospect of facing divine retribution. He expresses a nihilistic preference for the chaotic underworld over a tame paradise, favoring the gritty urban reality he knows over an alien, serene afterlife.
2. Nasty Girl (feat. Diddy, Nelly, Jagged Edge & Avery Storm)
Diddy, Nelly, Jagged Edge & Avery Storm delivered this posthumous track from The Notorious B.I.G., a perfect example of his swaggering panache and undeniable charisma on the mic. The song, a steamy, provocative romp, places Biggie in the company of various heavyweights of the time, forming an eclectic crew that aids in boosting the song’s pulsating rhythm. Even amidst searing verses from luminaries like Diddy and Nelly, Biggie stands out, delivering lines with his signature silky smooth yet gritty delivery.
1. Mo Money Mo Problems (feat. Puff Daddy & Mase)
Reworked in 2014 alongside Puff Daddy & Mase, Biggie delivers a thematic, uptempo track, underlining the inevitable issues accompanying the accumulation of wealth. The Brooklyn-native masterfully flips the opulence of the high life with a sting in the tail, a cautionary tale interwoven with Mase’s slick bravado and Puff Daddy’s mogul-esque swagger. Dissecting the lyrics, we encounter fame’s double-edged sword. Biggie explores the paradox of success, juxtaposing the allure of makin’ it rain with the onset of dangerous jealousy and heightened scrutiny from the law. The song’s a dose of cold reality veiled in glitzy rhymes – a stark reminder that even when you’re cresting the wave, you gotta watch for the sharks. Classic Biggie – even in his party tracks, the man’s droppin’ lessons.