Ready to Die vs. Life After Death

Posted on: July 18, 2009
8 comments so far (is that a lot?)


This discussion recently came up with Truck North, Skillz, & Black Thought. Was Biggie’s Ready to Die album better than Life After Death? Truth is, I could listen to both albums damn near all the way through which is very rare. I give LAD more created for this because it is a double album and that is EXTREMELY RARE! Many greats have tried to do it and weren’t successful in my opinion (we won’t say names because we will save those for later discussions, LOL).

Ready to Die was the introduction, it established Big’s hunger, his motivations, and even his obviously occasional self-hatred for his own life (“Suicidal Thoughts”). I think we got to learn Big’s thought process in that album, which to me is what a good first album does, builds rapport. Then Life After Death was the expansion of his sense of humor and his talent. Somewhere between the first and second album he became accepting of what his abilities were as an emcee and probably saw the importance of his music on the masses. So his content altered into topics that were more universal, and cinematic. There is no question that Big was one of the best storytellers hip-hop ever encountered. I always felt that The Black Alfred Hitchcock fit him better than The Black Frank White, but both aliases have their own connotation.

So my biggest analogy would be that the progression of his albums went from a documentary about cocaine like Cocaine Cowboys to a film like Scarface. Both of them are detailed in the causes and effects of their subject and are entertaining, but one is more RAW than the other. No hate, no animosity, but I personally give more credit to Life After Death than Ready to Die for being more universal in appeal, more polished in its delivery as an album, and just as entertaining as the previous without the listener losing their sense of who Biggie was/is as an emcee. What are your thoughts?

  • http://dereklipkin.blogspot.com Derek Lipkin

    I’m going to need to re-listen to “Life After Death” before I make a comparison, but one thing about “Ready To Die” that really set it apart a great album was the cohesion.

    I never felt like “Ready To Die” was just a collection of songs, like I do for so many new albums. The track order is very much planned (explicitly so, from birth to suicide). For me, that makes for a great listening experience. Like you, I listen to it from start to finish – I’m never tempted to change to another album or skip a song.

    It also strikes me as a brutally honest piece of art. “Ready to Die” is tantamount to Biggie’s self-introduction to his listeners, similar to what you mention about his establishing his “hunger … motivations,” etc. But, there is no overthinking involved. It hasn’t been diluted by introspection. It is a definitive statement from a young, black man, uncut and unapologetic. When you listen, it hits you (especially me, as a young, white man, 180 degrees from his life experience), and the impact is immediate.

    Big did best what hip-hop was born from – repositioning the marginal black voice as the center of attention.

    Like I mentioned, I’ll try to listen to “Life After Death” soon and make a comparison. Great topic, blog-poster (Skillz?).

  • MIQ VERSE

    Ready to Die for me was the epitome of a hiphop classic as was Life After Death. I would have to say Life After Death is the winner hands down for appeal and B.I.G toying with other styles of flow ala the Bone Thugs record. I also was a huge fan of the Love the DOugh record which makes me lean even more to Life After Death.

  • http://@illfam79 illfam79

    LAD had imo aLOT of filler

  • MIQ VERSE

    Ready to Die for me was the epitome of a hiphop classic as was Life After Death. I would have to say Life After Death is the winner hands down for appeal and B.I.G toying with other styles of flow ala the Bone Thugs record. I also was a huge fan of the Love the DOugh record which makes me lean even more to Life After Death.

  • Pannabis

     nah man Ready To Die is better, it’s a BIG version of Illmatic

  • cyrous khoshroo

    Cyrous Khoshroo says ” Ready or Die was a classic album but Life after Death was two classic albums”

  • TruthTella

    Ready to Die is better, too much of Life After Death is just ruined by Puff Diddy or whatever he calls himself now…

  • D L

    Life After Death… Skys The Limit is far superior than any of the tracks on Ready To Die… The closest thing is Respect.

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