Many people will say that the greatest album of all time is Nas‘ Illmatic. That might be true. But Nas’ Illmatic isn’t the most important rap album of all time. Hell, it’s not even the most important album of the year it was released – 1994.
That distinction belongs to Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die, which was released on September 13th, 1994 on Bad Boy records. While Illmatic was a critical darling, getting 5 mics in The Source, the album was a dud commercially, not even going gold that year. Back then, albums from the West Coast (from the Dr. Dres, Snoop Doggs, and Ice Cubes of the world) were the ones selling millions of copies.
That changed when Ready to Die dropped. It was smash album from the East Coast. An album that mixed the West Coast’s upbeat gangsta music with the East Coast’s bleak, lyrically driven form of hip-hop.
Ready to Die had three smash records from the album: “Juicy,” “One More Chance” and “Big Poppa.” The rest of the album was full of depressing tales that explained what it was like growing up in Brooklyn during the Crack Era. It’s the most important album of all time, and the modern-day template for how a rap album should be structured. (Girl song. Check. Gangsta song. Check. Introspective song. Check. Etc.)
To celebrate the anniversary of the most important rap album ever, click through the gallery to see things you might not know about Ready to Die.