As soon as I heard that there was gonna be a new Biggie LP (around late '97 I think) I was hyped. A lot of people had loved 'Ready To Die,' I'm one of those (infact, it featured/features one of my favourite tracks of all time 'Suicidal Thoughts'), plus, I did actually think 'Life After Death' was pretty ill too. It had some 'filler material,' but the majority of it was dope. So, of course, I expected Puffy to select the best of Biggies unreleased material and release an LP that would be amazing.
Well, on the one hand, my expectations were met, but on another, they weren't. I had strong beliefs that I wouldn't be giving this LP less than 8.5, which from me isn't particularly easy to obtain. And, as you can see by the score on this page, it didn't meet the level I expected it to.
For some reason, Puffy seems to have grasped the idea that rap fans, not pop fans, love his rapping. I'm here to tell you that that isn't true. I can't recall Puffy dropping many verses on Biggies material, while Biggie was alive. I remember words, hooks etc., but rarely any verses. Now, since he's gone, he and Biggie 'collaborate' all the time. Kind of easy to gain consent when someone isn't alive, isn't it?
Almost everyone I know, that has heard the unreleased version of 'Real Niggas' by Biggie, thinks that it was ill. Biggie spitting dope freestyled verses over some Death Row beats. It's understandable that Death Row wouldn't have allowed clearance to Bad Boy for the usage of this track in a proper release. Well, if they weren't gonna let it be properly released in its best form, why not just leave it a dope mixtape joint? No, Puffy wasn't satisfied with that, he not only threw an altered version of it on his own LP, but he altered it for 'Born Again.' The track entitled 'Notorious B.I.G.' is without a doubt, the worst track dubbed to be 'by Biggie.' The beat is feeble, the singing in the background isn't necessary at all, and Puffy and Kim don't improve the track with their verses by any means. Unbelievably disappointing.
Is that the only time where a dope Biggie track is re-used and practically ruined completely? No. I loved to death the True Master produced track (it said RZA produced it, but it was later found out that he didn't), 'Tonight.' Well, Puffy grabbed the track, swapped the beats, and because it would sell, added Mobb Deep and Black Rob. Firstly, this wasn't needed in any manner, secondly, the beat isn't in any way as good as the original, the muffled Biggie samples scattered amongst the track don't add to it, Mobb Deep and Black Rob don't improve the track in any way and finally, adding Joe Hooker to the track is absolutely never a good idea. I wish people would have learned this fact sooner, maybe we wouldn't have had to suffer listening to him.
I wish that that were the only time that I could say this LP came off as being less than brilliant. 'Biggie' is a tribute track gone wrong. The feeble, sung hook and un-impressive rhymes by Junior M.A.F.I.A. really don't do the memory of Biggie justice, I commend Junior M.A.F.I.A. for wanting to do something as a tribute to Biggie, but making this track (and hearing it before it was released) was a mistake.
There are other instances where I was completely disappointed with the LP, but if I talk too much about them, it will seem as if the 6.5/10 score I gave this LP was undeserving, when I feel it was.
Though Puffy made a fair amount of mistakes with this LP, in an attempt to increase sales, adding Eminem, the Hot Boys and Meth and Redman to some of Biggie's tracks, was a good idea. The first track which was said to be on 'Born Again' was the track 'Dead Wrong.' This track had several versions in circulation for months. But, they decided to add the remix to the LP, the remix featured Eminem. And is hot. It's grown on me immensely over a period of about three weeks. A definitely great addition. 'Hope You Niggaz Sleep' is without a doubt a surprise to me. Though I haven't actively taken an interest in the Hot Boys, I had an idea of them as being, well, shit. But this track with Biggie is damned funky, haha. The beat on the cut is pure brilliance, and along with Biggie's dope verse, Juvenile, BG, Turk and Lil' Wayne drop some nice verses making a really impressive cut.
There are also a few cuts, which people may have heard, but which are rare, which are featured on 'Born Again,' and, they are well worth peeping. 'To All My Niggas' and 'Come On' featuring Sadat X are pretty damn dope. 'Come On' especially. The hook is chanted, and combined with a dope beat, Biggie and Sadat create a dope track. There's also the 'Who Shot Ya (Remix),' which was released on a 12", but still remains pretty rare to this day.
The LP is a compilation of tracks chosen by Puff Daddy. It contains some good choices, but also some very bad choices. Basically, if you're a big Biggie fan, pick it up, but remember, he won't benefit from it.