Resolved: Biggie Smalls Had Already Done His Best Work When He Died

Here’s a Cafe Society query or debate for you.
I’m asking this in light of the movie.
I propose that Christopher George Latore Wallace aka Biggie Smalls [1] had already done his best work by the time of his death, and that at least 90% of his natural lifetime supply of good musical work had already been recorded, if not published.



Agreed, wholeheartedly. He was at the top of his game, and was threatening to let Puffy take him further down Shiny Suit Lane. As sad as it is, he probably died at the perfect time; he didn’t have ten albums out there for people to pick apart for holes.

Of course, I still wish I could hear new material by him. He would have been great alongside Kanye, Lil Wayne, or Lupe.

Thanks for chiming in.

Yes, he had already done his best work before he died.

Also his worst work. And, in fact, all of his work.

This applies to pretty much every other dead artist.

I wasn’t really looking for a semantics discussion, here, but at least that last post bumped my thread…

He ain’t gettin’ no better, that’s for sure.

I have to admit that I was a little confused behind the wording of the thread. My first reaction was, “What? Of course he did. He recorded all of his work before he died.” Then I thought you might have been comparing his posthumously released material to that released before his death. I don’t know; it has been a long afternoon.

At any rate, I agree that this is likely true, if only because so much of what he did has yet to be surpassed, IMO, by anybody so far. I’m a fairly well-listened hip-hop nerd, and I’m still impressed when I listen to Biggie’s stuff, almost twenty years after it was released.

I think what the OP is trying to hypothesize is that, by the time he died, Biggie had already peaked. That he blew his wad early and that his death didn’t necessarily deprive the world of any future classics.


I remain confused at Biggie’s posthumous legend. The guy was a hack. He was unoriginal, unskilled, and he happily furthered the whole “bling and hos” aspect of hip hop, which is despicable.

I can only conclude that he died at precisely the right time, from the perspective of his legacy. Otherwise, he would have ended up as a portly MC Hammer.

On the contrary, his post-mortem oeuvre is unsurpassed.

I feel like most musicians peak pretty early. Think of 5 guys starting a rock band when they’re young and full of imagination. They may have all kinds of ideas, riffs, etc., but when it comes time to record they distill all their ideas into maybe a dozen songs, what they consider their best work. After all that work, I’d think it would be tough to match or exceed that initial effort. Think of all the bands that are sideprojects of other bands. They come together because they have ideas that they don’t think will fly with their original bands, they put out an album, and you never hear from them again.

Beg to disagree. Puff is primarily responsible for the turn Biggie made at the end of his career to “mo Money, Mo Problems” type songs. His first album, however, was gritty and real, showcasing brilliant lyrics with a Mobb Deep, street kid turned millionaire, influence. His second album was all over the place. It has songs with Bone and Redman and Method Man, where he adopted their styles for the collaborations and showed he was better at it than they were. The second album had morality tales (“You’re Nobody Til Somebody Kills You”), crime dramas (“Long Kiss Goodnight”), along with the typical late '90’s singles (“Hypnotize” and “Going Back To Cali”). It is surprisingly good for a double album, without much filler. His first album is and always will be a classic of the genre.

Lyrically, he was one of the best of all time and will be remembered for a long time as such. How one couldn’t laugh at something as ridiculous as “I got techniques dripping out my butt cheeks / sleep on my stomach so I don’t fuck up my sheets”, I will never understand. He rapped about killing himself because he was broke and his own mother didn’t trust him. He rapped about fighting with his girl and her throwing his shit out the window “so when the wind blows / I see my Polos and Timbos”. His diss tracks were lethal, and very, very subtle. You had to know the ins and outs of his and Pac’s relationship to know that “Who Shot Ya” and “Long Kiss Goodnight” were diss tracks. He wasn’t writing them for the fans, he was speaking directly to Tupac.

Biggie Smalls also had the distinction of being the ugliest sex symbol of all time. He was married to Faith Evans while sleeping with Lil Kim (pre-nose job Lil Kim too!). Not bad for a morbidly obese man with a lazy eye.

I hardly see how anyone, unless the despised rap/hip-hop on general principle, could ever say that he was a “hack” or “untalented”.

I am unfamiliar with his music. However, I did see his posthumous appearance on South Park, and it was hilarious. So I will have to go with after death.

I hope this isn’t considered thread-shitting, but Biggie had definitely peaked. To be frank, I don’t think that he was that great to begin with and I’ve always just been sort of confused by the critical reception and legacy of his stuff; it sounds fairly generic to me, and his flow was generally simplistic and not particularly clever or interesting. The vast majority of Life After Death was incredibly weak, even if “Hypnotize” was an outstanding single - I actually think the Junior M.A.F.I.A. record was superior. Ready to Die is a fairly mediocre rap record in what was already an incredibly weak era for hip hop.

Big L, for example, did more on Lifestylez Ov Da Poor and Dangerous in one record than Biggie did in three.

I agree that Big L is severely under-appreciated. But I don’t really see a difference between Big L’s early stuff and Biggie’s early stuff. Remember, I agreed with the OP that Big had peaked. I was disagreeing with Ogre’s assessment of his abilities. Lifestylez and Ready To Die are almost the same album, minus the radio friendly track or two that Biggie Smalls has on his album. “Gimmie The Loot” is as out there as anything Big L ever did and is in the same vein as L’s “Devil’s Son”. Plus, Big did it from two perspectives and made it much funnier, as in when he threatens to rob a pregnant woman, telling her he’s gonna take everything plus “the Number One Mom pendant”.


No thread-shitting on your part, man.
I opened this thread to hear pros and cons on whether or not he had peaked or not.
You offered a pro, and then your observations.
Personally, I never really listened to him when he was current; I just started listening to him about two months ago when I plugged “Puff Daddy” into Pandora and got Biggie as a side-effect.
I then realized that I was enjoying it more, and laughing harder at it, than I had at any previous rap music. The guy’s dead for over a decade and I just now ‘discovered’ him.

The thread was actually to help in what amounts to a grieving process; and help me let go of any sadness I’d have had for realizing that a favorite artist was dead.
Hmmm. That sounds crazy. I’ll post it anyway; I can stand by the truth, even if it’s lame on my part.

Definitely check out (as Freejooky so brilliantly mentioned) Big L’s album Lifestylez Ov Da Poor And Dangerous then. If you laughed at Biggie, you’ll LOVE L.

Sadly, he also died too young. As far as I can remember, he was shot and killed on the same corner that he was depicted standing on on the LODPAD album

To both of you, thanks for introducing me to “Big L”.

I think he had peaked, but it’s hard to think of a hip-hop artist who hadn’t peaked within his first three years. Plenty of them have continued to make worthwhile output, but very few have improved on it.