(If you haven't already done so, be sure to visit my previous post and throw your shuffled playlist in the comments section.)
Odds are pretty good that if you regularly read this blog, you're at least somewhat familiar with "Big Poppa". The second single from The Notorious B.I.G.'s debut album, Ready To Die, "Big Poppa" was a track aimed squarely at the ladies in the place that Biggie wanted nothing more than to bone down with after splitting a T-bone steak and downing some Welch's grape juice. Producers Sean "Puffy" Combs and Chucky Thompson sampled The Isley Brothers' jam "Between The Sheets" expertly, redefining the instrumental loop for a new generation who would primarily connect it with Biggie's club exploits. Even with the late Christopher Wallace reciting general concepts of come-ons as though he were an alien from another universe tasked with studying the female half of our species in their natural habitat ("..ask you what your interests are, who you be with / Things that make you smile, what numbers to dial"), and an extended guest vocal from Puff Daddy oozing sleaze by encouraging an anonymous female to gather her friends for some group sex in a nearby hotel room, ostensibly while Biggie is eating his T-bone steak, "Big Poppa" became the second huge hit from Ready To Die, earning considerable radio airplay, MTV spins, and essentially making Puffy look like a goddamn genius for signing Biggie in the first place. Never mind the fact that Biggie still had yet to release an actual "street" single from the project at this point: Puffy was basically trying to cover all of his costs incurred for recording the project before letting his boy run wild.
Which is why it's kind of weird that Puffy had fuck-all to do with the song's official remix.
The official "Big Poppa" re-do was produced by Jermaine Dupri, whose presence isn't surprising: Dupri was once one of the biggest producers in our chosen genre, whether you like to remember that part of the timeline or not, and aside from that, he had already cultivated a working relationship with Wallace after working with him on Da Brat's Biggie-featured "Da B Side". The instrumental aims for a different facet of pop radio, dropping the Isley Brothers sample in favor of the sound of late-1980's R&B, which isn't as iconic, but makes the song different enough to warrant its existence.
Dupri's new instrumental apparently inspired Biggie to go back to the lab, as the remix contains some different bars randomly tossed in, so as to create more backstory for a tale that really didn't need one, leading to a completely new third verse that no longer features Puffy's lecherous ways. Of course, Dupri takes his place, which is just as goofy, but your mileage may vary: I found myself actually missing Puff's vocals. Both versions have their specific niches on radio flashback shows, and they both prove that, while he wasn't quite fond of doing them at first, The Notorious B.I.G. was actually pretty good at putting together radio-friendly tracks that broadened his overall appeal. Still, I'm sure most of the two readers prefer that street shit from Biggie Smalls, of which there is plenty, but that doesn't take away from "Big Poppa".
I can't end this post without giving everyone the actual video for "Big Poppa, so I'll get that out of the way right...now.
GO WITH THE O.G. OR THE REMIX? The original by a long shot. The remix is only for curious heads who want to hear some new-ish bars from the late Christopher Wallace. However, the single for the remix was the first place one could get a copy of the much-lauded B-side "Who Shot Ya?", so.
The Notorious B.I.G. - Ready To Die (review)