Release Date: Jan 13, 2009
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Rap, Soundtrack
The soundtrack to the Notorious B.I.G. biopic Notorious is a welcome surprise. Selections from the past (a bunch of old hits plus some wonderfully raw demos) and the present (Jay-Z's infectious collabo with Santogold) along with a hint of the legacy's future (an appearance from Biggie's son, Christopher "CJ" Wallace, Jr.) are sequenced in a way that avoids any of the bombast or misguided majesty of Born Again or Duets, the other posthumous releases from the Bad Boy label.
Given its considerable overlap with 2007’s Greatest Hits, casual fans of the Notorious B.I.G. won?t have much use for this soundtrack to director George Tillman Jr.’s biopic of the late Brooklyn rapper. (Which isn’t to say that another excuse to enjoy ”Hypnotize” isn’t always welcome.) Hardcore Biggie devotees, though, will relish a handful of rarities, including demo versions of ”Microphone Murderer” and ”Guaranteed Raw,” as well as ”Brooklyn Go Hard,” a funky new Kanye West-produced track by B.I.G.’s old sparring partner Jay-Z.
The NYC indie street rapper known as Gravy has now been immortalized on celluloid playing Biggie Smalls in Notorious, but Gravy's Jay-Z-cloned flows appear nowhere on this soundtrack. Danny Elfman's Notorious Theme feels stranded between two worlds, while the Legacy remix of One More Chance is a perplexing and disturbing Pro Tools-era creation in which Biggie's 12-year-old son rhymes back and forth with his father, lewd lyrics and all. The last three joints are the most important, including the finale, Love No Ho, which shows traces of Slick Rick in Biggie's pimp storytelling inflections.