Best Hip Hop Album Every Year Since 1986 Amerikkka Most Wanted
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‘Ready to Die’ Was Inspired by ‘AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted’

When you think about AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, released in 1990, and Ready to Die, released four years later, they’re two albums that couldn’t be more different, aside from the fact that they were both future rap greats.

One features a West Coast MC making his solo debut, spilling righteous anger over ridiculously funky production by The Bomb Squad. The other is an up-and-coming rapper from Bed–Stuy, Brooklyn, who was under the tutelage of famed rap and R&B hitmaker, Puff Daddy.

But if you look beyond the sound and aesthetics of both albums, you’ll find that AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and Ready to Die have a lot in common, particularly with their cinematic level of detail and production. Which isn’t all that surprising when you find out that Puffy actually modelled Big’s debut after AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted.

“Puffy once told me that he studied Amerikkka’s Most Wanted before doing Biggie’s first album, and to me that’s a major statement,” Cube told Brian Coleman during an interview for Check the Technique: Volume 2 More Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies.

“It shows that Amerikkka’s was the blueprint for how records were put together for a long time after that, with the skits and the whole record being one thing,” Cube continued. “It all sounds like it was made on the same day. It set the tone for a lot of records to come, for probably 10 years after that.”

There’s no doubt that the West Coast’s inspiration for Ready to Die is a huge factor as to why the album was such a monumental success. Think about it. In 1994, you had a ton of dope rap albums coming out of New York.

There was Gang Starr’s fourth album, Hard to Earn, Shyheim making his debut with AKA the Rugged Child, Jeru the Damaja’s phenomenal The Sun Rises in the East, Method Man coming out with the first Wu solo album, Tical, and of course, you had Nas dropping Illmatic, arguably the greatest hip hop debut of all time. Not to mention Stress: The Extinction Agenda from Organized Konfusion, Keith Murray’s The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World, and Redman’s sophomore release, Dare Iz a Darkside.

The point is, as incredible as these albums were, none of them managed to achieve what Big did with Ready to Die: hitting double platinum status in just over a year of its release and spawning a number of hit singles. It was the West Coast blueprint from Ice Cube, as well as Dre and Snoop, that resulted in Big becoming the biggest rapper on the East Coast and undisputedly, the King of New York.

Chucky Thompson (producer on Ready to Die): Knowing Biggie as a person, he’s bigger than New York. He’s a real universal artist. His style reminded me of Ice Cube. So I was like, “Let me see if I can put him on a bigger page.” And that’s why I came with that little West Coast line. I just kind of took him out of the New York vibe and took him a little bit more out West, and he carried it. At that time, we were listening to Snoop’s album. We knew what was going on in the West through Dr. Dre. Big just knew the culture, he knew what was going on with hip-hop. It was more than just New York, it was all over.

The Making of The Notorious BIG’s Ready to Die | XXL Mag

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