Former Death Row Records owner Marion “Suge” Knight recently spoke on the influence West Coast music has had on today’s rap scene and especially in respect to the late Notorious B.I.G.‘s Ready to Die album.
In Suge’s opinion, the West has influenced everyone from Da Brat to G-Unit leader 50 Cent‘s music.
“The West Coast has been dry not because the talent hasn’t been there. You’ve got to let these young guys be them. You got Problem, YG, Joe Moses… you got some real talented [guys]. What usually hurts these guys is that people steal their style and sound before they get famous. The Dogg Pound was coming out, then all of a sudden Kriss Kross started hanging with them and they started rapping like Daz and Kurupt. Da Brat started thinking she was Snoop. That’s how she got on. They’re mimicking the sh*t that already been done. And not knocking 50 [Cent], 50 came out and had an incredible album, but at the same time 50’s record is all West Coast.” (Medium)
Knight also claimed Bad Boy Records CEO Diddy owed him a lot for helping mold the late B.I.G.’s debut.
“If you look at Biggie’s album, Biggie’s album is all West Coast. The first album. When they did the Biggie album, I helped them with that f*cking record. I let Puff use every [The Chronic] sample on [Ready to Die], the hottest record of all time, and didn’t charge them. To show some love. Like here. It ain’t sh*t. We do this sh*t like we do. I don’t care if it’s a Down South record or East Coast record. If it’s successful, it’s a West Coast vibe.” (Medium)
In addition to going platinum, B.I.G.’s debut has received critical acclaim.
The album that reinvented East Coast rap for the gangsta age, Ready to Die made the Notorious B.I.G. a star, and vaulted Sean “Puffy” Combs’ Bad Boy label into the spotlight as well. Today it’s recognized as one of the greatest hardcore rap albums ever recorded, and that’s mostly due to Biggie’s skill as a storyteller. His raps are easy to understand, but his skills are hardly lacking — he has a loose, easy flow and a talent for piling multiple rhymes on top of one another in quick succession. He’s blessed with a flair for the dramatic, and slips in and out of different contradictory characters with ease. Yet, no matter how much he heightens things for effect, it’s always easy to see elements of Biggie in his narrators and of his own experience in the details; everything is firmly rooted in reality, but plays like scenes from a movie. (All Music)
Last year, 50 Cent explained why fans would never see another Get Rich or Die Tryin’ version of himself again.
“Yeah! If I’m exactly like the old 50 at this point, that means I didn’t grow. It would be a tragedy if you were the same person that you were 10 years ago. It would mean that you simply fell behind. You’re not learning anything. You’re not wiser or more experienced in different territories and 10 years passed? You just fell behind. What’s cool about that?” (Complex)