I hope it makes me a better man
Take a better stand
Put money in my mom's hand
Get my daughter this college grant so she don't need no man
Stay far from timid
Only make moves when your heart's in it
And live the phrase 'sky's the limit'.
Muthafuckas. See you chumps on top.
Life After Death is the second album (of two) by The Notorious B.I.G., released March 25, 1997 - just 16 days after Biggie was murdered in Los Angeles, technically making it a posthumous album, though it was completed before he was killed.
A double album, Life After Death goes in a glossier, more mafioso-themed direction than its predecessor, but retains that album's mixture of hardcore songs and lighter party jams. It even picks up immediately where that album's final track, "Suicidal Thoughts", left off. And like Ready to Die, three of its tracks - "Hypnotize", "Mo Money Mo Problems", and "Sky's the Limit" - became singles.
The album was also released at the tail-end of the infamous East Coast/West Coast hip-hop feud of the '90s. It was released a while after the death of Biggie's main rival Tupac Shakur, but retains a few sly references to the beef (such as the line "My so-called beef with You-Know-Who" on "Notorious Thugs"), as well as a few subliminal disses thrown at several other rappers Biggie was beefing with, such as Nas and Raekwon and Ghostface Killah.
While it's not quite as universally acclaimed as Ready to Die, Life After Death is still widely considered a classic in its own right and one of the defining albums of the late '90s. In 2003, the album placed at #483 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
- "Life After Death (Intro)" (1:40)
- "Somebody's Gotta Die" (4:27)
- "Hypnotize" (3:50)
- "Kick In The Door" (4:46)
- "Fuck You Tonight" (5:46)
- "Last Day" (4:20)
- "I Love The Dough" (5:12)
- "What's Beef?" (5:15)
- "B.I.G (Interlude)" (0:48)
- "Mo Money Mo Problems" (4:17)
- "Niggas Bleed" (4:51)
- "I Got a Story to Tell" (4:43)
- "Notorious Thugs" (6:08)
- "Miss U" (4:59)
- "Another" (4:15)
- "Going Back To Cali" (5:07)
- "Ten Crack Commandments" (3:24)
- "Playa Hater" (3:58)
- "Nasty Boy" (5:34)
- "Sky's the Limit" (5:29)
- "The World Is Filled" (4:55)
- "My Downfall" (5:27)
- "Long Kiss Goodnight" (5:18)
- "You're Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)" (4:53)
"Gotta let it show, I love to trope, hey!"
- Album Filler: A frequent criticism is that the album is a bit overstuffed and would be better if it were just whittled down to a single disc (which is kind of funny when you consider that Biggie was apparently planning on releasing a triple album in the future). To name specific songs, "Another", "Playa Hater" and "Nasty Boy" are usually pointed to as tracks that could go.
- Batman Gambit: How Biggie escapes the predicament he gets into in "I Got A Story to Tell." He changes what the situation looks like and counts on everyone else acting the way he thinks they will.
- Bowdlerise: The edited version has so many songs removed that it fits on a single disc.
- The Commandments: "Ten Crack Commandments".1. Never let no one know how much dough you hold.
2. Never let them know your next move.
3. Never trust nobody.
4. Never get high on your own supply.
5. Never sell no crack where you rest at.
6. That goddamn credit? Dead it.
7. Keep your family and business completely separated.
8. Never keep no weight on you.
9. If you ain't gettin' bagged, stay the fuck from police.
10. A strong word called "consignment", strictly for live men, not for freshmen.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The black-and-white noir-ish cover image, with the only splashes of color being Biggie's name and the title.
- Epic Rocking: The 6:08 "Notorious Thugs".
- Face on the Cover: Biggie standing next to a hearse. As if the title wasn't Harsher in Hindsight enough.
- Gangsta Rap: A mix of Commercial, Hardcore and Mafioso.
- Genre Shift: "Playa Hater" features Biggie singing a parody of The Delfonics' "Hey Love".
- Getting High on Their Own Supply: Rule number four of the "Ten Crack Commandments" advises potential drug dealers not to do this, lest they face the consequences. Doubles as a nod to Scarface protagonist Tony Montana, who did get high off his own crack, only to lose everything.
- Inner Monologue - BIG argues with himself whether or not to rip off his own in men in the first verse of "Niggas Bleed".Think about it now, that's damn near one-point-five
I kill 'em all I'll be set for life, Frank pay attention.
These motherfuckers is henchmen, renegades.
If you die they still get paid, extra probably.
Fuck a robbery, I'm the boss.
Promise you won't rob 'em. I promise,
But of course you know I had my fingers crossed
- Intercourse with You: "Fuck You Tonight".
- List Song: "Ten Crack Commandments". It originally included a sample of Chuck D counting to ten from the song "Shut 'Em Down", but Chuck, who is both Straight Edge and heavily critical of drug dealing, was so incensed at being sampled in a song about drug dealing that he sued to have it removed. However, it was later revealed that Chuck Ds associates were the one who sued Biggies estate, not Chuck D himself who was fine with the sampling of his voice.
- New Sound Album: The album was slightly less hardcore than its predecessor and had more party tracks and more of a glamorous mafioso feel, helping usher in the "Shiny Suit Era" of the late '90s.
- One-Word Title: "Hypnotize" and "Another".
- Previously On : The intro track is a TV-style recap to remind listeners what happened on the last album, in which Biggie committed suicide.
- Rags to Riches: "Sky's the Limit".
- Biggie was clearly a fan of Casino, as the album features not one but two shoutouts: First on "Another" ("Peep the scene, sorta like Sam Rothstein / Guess you Ginger, huh, go figure"), and then on "You're Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)" ("Watch Casino, I'm the hip-hop version of Nicky Tarantino" - conflating Joe Pesci's character Nick Santoro with Quentin Tarantino).
- #4 of the "Ten Crack Commandments" is "Never get high on your own supply".
- Biggie references the 1996 crime film Set It Off in his song "What's Beef", with the line "Watch me set it off like Vivica.
- Song Parody: "Player Hata", a robbery-themed take on the Delfonics' "Hey Love".
- Take That!: "Kick In The Door" is full of subliminals aimed at Nas (as sort of a more friendly rivalry, according to Nas himself), Raekwon and Ghostface Killah (who dissed Biggie on their "Shark Niggas (Biters)" skit on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx for what they felt was ripping off Nas' Illmatic album cover with his Ready to Die cover), and Jeru the Damaja (whose song "One Day" dissed Bad Boy Records).
- "Long Kiss Goodnight" is a more direct shot at 2Pac.