Even though eight years have passed since the 1997 murder of the Notorious B.I.G. (aka Christopher Wallace), the hip-hop community’s love for the rapper has never wavered. This week, Sean “Diddy” Combs will offer fans new tracks featuring the slain artist in the form of “Notorious B.I.G. Duets: The Final Chapter” (Bad Boy Entertainment/Atlantic Records).
The album pairs the voice of Biggie with some of today’s most popular artists and producers, such as Eminem, Jay-Z, R. Kelly and Mary J. Blige. Biggie is also joined on several duets by other such departed legends as reggae artist Bob Marley, rapper Big Pun and his most notable rival, Tupac Shakur, who was shot to death in 1996 and whose unsolved murder has been linked to that of Wallace.
To create the material, producers took Biggie’s existing vocals and created new tracks around them with the living performers adding their parts. For the deceased artists, vocals from both parties were wrapped around new tracks.
Combs says the album came about because of the overwhelming demand from artists seeking to sample Biggie’s vocals. “Different people wanted to utilize his vocals and do duets with him on mix tapes,” he says. “It showed us that (a), there was still a huge demand for people to hear Biggie’s vocals, and (b), that other artists still had love for Biggie even though he had such a short career.”
“The album is just incredible,” he continues. “He’s at the level of a Frank Sinatra or a Nat ‘King’ Cole as far as the hip-hop generation goes.”