Recordings

Life After Death ... Till Death Do Us Part, Biggie's second recording, is a well-thought-out and -performed holding pattern. Smalls wanted to avoid the sophomore jinx that is especially prevalent in hip hop, without repeating his debut, Ready to Die. But the first album functions as a template. Over the sprawl of two discs and almost two hours of music, Smalls concocts pop confections like "Mo Money Mo Problems" and "Another," clever funk such as "Hypnotize" and "Going Back to Cali," as well as numerous ballads and hardcore raps. In its variety and consistency, it well deserved to sell the million-plus units that it moved in the first two weeks of its release. Sadly, however, Smalls seemed to have a larger agenda; as demonstrated by his range of topics, he wanted to change the way we looked at hip hop. He did -- but it's doubtful this is what he had in mind.

-- Martin Johnson

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