Twenty years ago this month, on September 13, 1994, The Notorious B.I.G. released his debut album, Ready To Die, a critically acclaimed project from the Brooklyn, New York rapper. While the album helped launch his career, it also acted as the first album released by Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy imprint, a project that would help catapult B.I.G., the then-young emcee, and his mentor, Puff, to new heights.
The Source Gives Biggie’s Ready To Die A 4.5 Mic Rating In 1994
When it was released, the album earned critical acclaim despite some criticism. The Source gave the effort a 4.5/5 mics rating. Shortie, now known as Miss Info, reviewed the project for the magazine. “Overall, this package is complete,” she wrote. “Ridiculous beats, harmonizing honeys, ill sound effects, criminal scenarios, familiar hooks (see Mtume’s beat on ‘Juicy’ and the ‘I Get Lifted’ beat on Big’s ‘Respect’). But some of the beats get a little repetitive (see ‘Me and My Bitch’ and ‘What Chu Want’) and the two sex skits are annoying. A graphic depiction of Biggie getting a blowjob? He can keep that gem to himself. Whether the street essence is your reality or whether you just like feeling hard through someone else’s stories, Biggie will captivate you with his ‘machine gun funk.'”
HipHopDX Gives Biggie’s Ready To Die A 5 X Rating In 2007
HipHopDX was launched five years after the project was released, but in 2007, DX reviewed the classic album, giving the project a 5 X rating out of 5.
Andrew Kameka reviewed the album for HipHopDX at the time, calling it an album that “redefined the mid-‘90s’ sound,” while praising Biggie’s ability to rhyme from different perspectives.
“Though Ready to Die is deeply-rooted in his uncaring attitude towards life and violence, Notorious B.I.G.’s personable nature takes away from that Bad Boy image,” Kameka said at the time. “That’s the reason so many emcees have tried in vain to reignite his ability to simultaneously hold the respect of their peers and a sway over the listening public. Most of all, it’s the reason that we’ll always love Big Poppa.”
Complex Names Ready To Die One Of The Best Debut Albums Ever In 2012
Complex made a list of the best debut albums in Rap history in 2012, a list that includes Nas’ Illmatic as its #1 project. In its write-up of the Biggie debut, the outlet says its impact remains significant.
“What makes Ready to Die such a classic is that it doesn’t divide nostalgic ’90s Hip Hop diehards and today’s listeners,” Complex said at the time. “It still resonates. ‘Juicy’ isn’t just the autobiography of a Hip Hop heavyweight gone too soon, it’s the story of the comeup of Hip Hop itself-both the music and those it affected.”
Biggie’s Ready To Die Celebrated By GQ In 2014
Biggie, who often celebrated his fashionable style on wax, was praised for his debut album this year in a piece by GQ titled “‘Aint Nothing Shine Brighter Than That Bad Boy’ The Inside Story of Hip Hop’s Most Notorious Label.”
“The first album released by Bad Boy Entertainment—twenty years ago this month—was the Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die, an instant classic and possibly the most influential Rap record ever made,” GQ’s Craig Barboza said in the article.
Writer, journalist Cheo Coker speaks on the album in the piece. “Ready to Die is one of the first records to tell the perspective of the street-corner drug dealer that wasn’t all fantasy and gloss,” Coker explains. “It wasn’t kingpin, Scarface-type stuff. It was similar to what Richard Price did with Clockers. But Biggie didn’t take 500 pages. He took an hour of your time, and you could dance to it.”