March 9 marks 15 years since the death of the Notorious B.I.G., widely regarded as one of the best MCs to hold a mic. For an MC with such influence on the culture, it's worth remembering that Biggie's career was startlingly short and featured just two proper studio albums: 1994's Ready to Die and 1997's posthumous Life After Death before he died at the age of 24. Underlining the impression he made in a short space of time, we take a look back at a few of Biggie's best cameo appearances.
“Dolly My Baby” by Supercat (1993)
Eager to break Jamaican dancehall artists to a North American audience in the early ’90s, labels often enlisted U.S. artists to help out. Supercat gets plenty of help on this club hit featuring a virtually uncredited Mary J. Blige and a horrific verse from Diddy in his early Puff Daddy phase. Fortunately, an eager to impress Biggie in one of his early recorded appearances rescues the song with the first line of his verse, “I love it when you call me Big Poppa!” which will be sampled later on his hit single, “Big Poppa.”
“Flava In Ya Ear (Remix)” by Craig Mack (1994)
When Puffy's Bad Boy Records was launched, Craig Mack was the first artist presented to the public. But it became apparent with Biggie's emergence that he would quickly overshadow Mack as the label's flagship artist, and nothing underlined it more than the remix of Mack's sole hit single. On a track that features a slew of big names in addition to Mack (LL, Busta, anyone?), lead-off MC Biggie is the centre of attention, wresting the song from his labelmate's grasp. Don't be mad Mack, UPS is hiring.
“Can't You See” by Total (1995)
This 1995 clip features the Bad Boy aesthetic at the height of its musical and cultural influence. Despite the label’s stranglehold on hip-hop and R&B at the time, Biggie doesn't coast on this track, which introduced R&B trio Total. Rhyming over the track's sample of James Brown's “The Big Payback,” Biggie kept things gritty, underlining his role as the undisputed go-to MC for street credibility for hip-hop and R&B artists, protégés, and other labelmates during his brief reign.
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