Since musically my blog is all over the place I wanted to bring attention to a "new" Notorious B.I.G. record, Duets: The Final Chapter. The reason for the attention is not because it is good, but more because it is tragic. It illustrates a phenomenon in hip hop that is disconcerting. There is a trend in music today towards making mainstream chart topping records with little to no meaning, no substance. The rapper is the rock star, and record executives are quick to pounce, evident by the slew of garbage “rappers” on the scene (Juvenile, Twista, 50 Cent, Lil’ Kim etc. etc.).
The B.I.G. album was released just before Christmas Day 2005 in what can only be labeled a money making move by the ever capitalistic Sean "Puffy" Combs aka Diddy or whatever current marketing ploy he is using to call attention to himself. This is not the first after death release for B.I.G. (Born Again was released in 99) and the questions must be asked that if you are going to release a second post death record shouldn’t there should be some real jaw dropping stuff? and don't you think Puffy has made enough off the Biggie legacy already?
Well the answer is no to both. P-Diddy has taken a bunch of non-studio quality sound clips all of which have already been heard before, mixes in some current faces and pumps out an album in time for the holiday shopping season. It becomes quickly apparent that Diddy has no integrity and no respect for his late friend.
The opening track named "It has been said" has the poetic verse of Biggie saying nothing more than "what," "ungh," "yeah," "ha-ha," "uh-huh." Wow! hot damn I am so glad that they were able to salvage those clips and bring them to me post-mortem. The record is shameless in its marketing and lack of depth. Allmusic.com calls the B.I.G. samples nothing more than "patched-together scraps." Sean Fennessey of Pitchforkmedia is on point in his characterization of the record:
"This attempted resuscitation, this half-assed memory-stirrer, is a project of the crassest order. It's graverobbing at its most furtive, orchestrated by a master career-tarnisher. Igor Diddy lurks, hunch-backed, quietly approaching your ear: "Hey there, youngconsumer, do you like my best friend, the legendary Notorious B.I.G.? Dr. Pha and I, we've breathed new life, created vivacity, and taken creation from God's hands."Now that is some excellent writting by Fennessey. The album was blasted with a 4.2 rating. HipHopSite.com calls it the most disappointing album of the Year. Leave it to Puffy to tarnish a Hip Hop and songwriting great and bring to light what is wrong with hip hop music today. Its becoming more capitalism then expression, more chest thumping and record sales then respect, more catchy radio hooks then story telling. B.I.G. deserved better then this and Diddy should be ashamed.
All is not lost young squire, there is promise out there with people like Common, Kanye West, Blackalicious, DJ Shadow, Madlib, MF Doom, Aesop Rock, DJ Danger Mouse, M.I.A., John Legend, DJ Shadow, Jurassic 5, Murs, and Slug to name just a few.