Faith Evans has built a strong career ever since dropping her breakthrough debut Faith in 1995, but this year marks a different sort of milestone for the R&B singer. In addition to releasing her sixth studio album Incomparable on Nov. 24 via Prolific Music Group/BMG Artist Services, the singer-songwriter celebrates two important anniversaries in music history: the 20th anniversary of Puff Daddy‘s Bad Boy Records and the release of Notorious B.I.G.‘s seminal debut Ready to Die.
Evans reflected on the legacy of Bad Boy Records and the way it helped change hip-hop when stopping through Billboard’s NYC office. “Being part of the Bad Boy movement at the time it was all going on and coming to be, to look back and just know I was a big part of helping lay the foundation for the legacy that Bad Boy has left, it was a great movement,” she explains. “But at the same time, I was having so much fun then that we definitely weren’t looking at it like, ‘We are really doing it right now.’ Maybe Puff did. I knew he always had a vision from the day I met him, but I’m just blessed to have been a part of it, to have been able to make timeless music and not only that, to still be here.”
With Bad Boy, Evans released three successful LPs—Faith, Keeping the Faith (1998) and Faithfully (2001)—before branching off from Puff Daddy to release The First Lady on Capitol Records in 2005. But her time on the label also gave her a front row seat to witness her late husband Notorious B.I.G. record Ready to Die, which is considered one of hip-hop’s most influential and important albums.
“When Big was recording Ready to Die, I was actually working on [Faith] at that time. So I wasn’t around for a whole bunch of his sessions. Maybe even half of that album was recorded before he and I were together, because I think Puff had Big from when he was still on Uptown. Puff told me from very early on, ‘He’s going to be a star, I’m going to make him a sex symbol. I’m telling you.'”
“When you hear a Biggie record now, it doesn’t sound like it’s 18 years old,” she added. “Something about it has that timeless appeal, which people today are still using him as a reference of how to do it. That says a lot.”