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Life After Death

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Life After Death
The Notorious B.I.G. (wearing a long black coat and a black bowler hat) is seen standing next to a funeral motorcade. The album's title "Life after death" is painted on the motorcade's trunk. It's license plate bears the name "B.I.G." on it.
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 25, 1997 (1997-03-25)
  • 120:39
  • 59:42 (censored version)
The Notorious B.I.G. chronology
Ready to Die
Life After Death
Born Again
Singles from Life After Death
  1. "Hypnotize"
    Released: March 1, 1997
  2. "Mo Money Mo Problems"
    Released: July 15, 1997
  3. "Sky's the Limit" / "Going Back to Cali"
    Released: November 18, 1997

Life After Death is the second and final studio album by American rapper the Notorious B.I.G., released on March 25, 1997, on Bad Boy Records and Arista Records.[4] A double album, it was released sixteen days after his murder. It features collaborations with guest artists such as 112, Jay-Z, Lil' Kim, Mase, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Too $hort, Angela Winbush, D.M.C. of Run-D.M.C., R. Kelly, the Lox, and Puff Daddy. Life After Death exhibits the Notorious B.I.G. further delving into the mafioso rap subgenre. The album is a sequel to his first album, Ready to Die, and picks up where the last song, "Suicidal Thoughts", ends.

Life After Death sold 690,000 copies in its first week, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. It received widespread critical acclaim upon release and was nominated for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Solo Performance for its first single "Hypnotize", and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for its second single "Mo Money Mo Problems" at the 40th Annual Grammy Awards. The album is widely considered to be one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. In 2020, it was ranked at No. 179 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[5][6]


Two and a half years before the album's release, the Notorious B.I.G., who had married Faith Evans, became East Coast's icon in the East Coast–West Coast rivalry and featured on albums by Michael Jackson and R. Kelly amongst others. The album had numerous planned release dates, but Biggie was involved in a car accident in September 1996 that delayed the finalizing of the album. It was pushed back to 1997.

As he explained on BET's Rap City, Biggie aimed to reach a wider audience with Life After Death, collaborating with a wider variety of artists than on his debut. In addition to Bad Boy labelmates Mase, the LOX and 112, and label owner Puff Daddy, guests include Jay-Z, Angela Winbush, Too Short, Lil Kim, & Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. A record with Bay Area rapper E-40 was not included on the final track listing.

"Most artists, you can tell they're working by the movement of their pen, but Big didn't have a pen and paper. So if a person walked in, they'd think there wasn't any work being done. There'd be conversations going on, the music would be blaring, there'd be smoke in the air, drinks all over the place, girls running around. You would think that a party was going on, but meanwhile Big was sitting in his little corner, just nodding." – Deric 'D-Dot' Angelettie[7]

Production was handled by DJ Premier, Easy Mo Bee, Havoc, RZA, Stevie J and other members of Bad Boy's in-house team, the Hitmen. Q-Tip submitted a beat, which Biggie enjoyed; however, the album had already been completed and turned into Bad Boy.[8] The beat was later used for A Tribe Called Quest's song "The Love", from their 1998 album The Love Movement.[8]

Biggie traveled to the West Coast in February 1997 to promote the album, and shoot the video for the lead single, "Hypnotize." Two weeks before its release, on March 9, he was shot four times in a drive-by shooting and later pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Consumer GuideA[10]
Entertainment WeeklyC+[11]
The Guardian[12]
Los Angeles Times[13]
Rolling Stone[16]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[17]
USA Today[18]

Life After Death received widespread acclaim from critics upon release. Jon Pareles of The New York Times described the album as "flaunting affluence with a leisurely swagger, midtempo grooves and calmly arrogant raps".[19] Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone magazine called it a "conscious continuation of Ready to Die", and stated "Life After Death captures crime's undeniable glamour but doesn't stint on the fear, desperation and irretrievable loss that the streets inevitably exact".[16] Cheo Hodari Coker from the Los Angeles Times wrote that "Life After Death reflects both the dark and the heartfelt sides of the rapper's Gemini personality. It's not only a complex testament to who he was in his private life, but also a demonstration of his amazing rhyming ability. In key moments, B.I.G. does a marvelous job of surfing between accessible music fare tailored for the radio, and more challenging material that will be savored by hard-core rap fans who have long admired B.I.G.'s microphone skills. Rarely has a rapper attempted to please so many different audiences and done it so brilliantly".[13] In a five-mic review for The Source, Michael A. Gonzales felt that it would "undoubtedly become a classic to any true hip-hop fan".[20] Although David Browne of Entertainment Weekly was unfavorable of the album's long length, and some of its violent and materialistic content, he commended Notorious B.I.G.'s "bicoastal respect" by working with other hip-hop styles and artists from other regions of the United States.[11]


Since its release, Life After Death has received retrospective acclaim from critics. Rob Sheffield, writing in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), called it "a filler-free two-disc rush of musical bravado" and commented that the Notorious B.I.G.'s voice and lyrics were "deeper" than before.[17] AllMusic's Jason Birchmeier wrote, "It may have taken the Notorious B.I.G. a few years to follow up his milestone debut, Ready to Die, with another album, but when he did return with Life After Death, he did so in a huge way. The ambitious album, intended as somewhat of a sequel to Ready to Die, picked up where its predecessor left off."[9] Birchmeier further said, "Over the course of only two albums, he achieved every success imaginable, perhaps none greater than this unabashedly over-reaching success."[9] Evan McGarvey of Stylus magazine wrote in his review, "Life After Death is a grand exercise in personal mythology, narrative sweep, and truly diverse, universal pop excellence. As a double album it is the very definition of cinematic; it essentially perfected the concept and standard in hip-hop ... Sequenced as an unpacking of sorts, the album's progression from song to song is an essay itself."[21] In 2013, VIBE named Life After Death the greatest Hip-Hop/R&B album since 1993.[22]


  • (*) signifies unordered lists
Publication Country Accolade Year Rank Ref.
About.com United States 100 Greatest Hip Hop Albums 2008 40 [23]
Best Rap Albums of 1997 1 [24]
Addicted to Noise Albums of the Year 1997 7 [citation needed]
Blender The 100 Greatest American Albums of All Time 2002 25 [25]
Ego Trip Hip Hop's 25 Greatest Albums by Year 1980–1998 1999 1 [26]
The Face United Kingdom Albums of the Year 1997 20 [citation needed]
Fnac France The 1000 Best Albums of All Time 2008 858 [citation needed]
Hip Hop Connection United Kingdom The 100 Greatest Rap Albums 1995–2005 2006 14 [27]
The New Nation United Kingdom Top 100 Albums by Black Artists 2005 60 [citation needed]
OOR Moordlijst Netherlands Albums of the Year 1997 87 [citation needed]
Pure Pop Mexico 18 [citation needed]
Q United Kingdom * [citation needed]
Rolling Stone United States 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 2003 483 [28]
2012 476 [29]
2020 179 [30]
100 Best Albums of the '90s 2010 66 [31]
The Essential Recordings of the '90s 1999 * [32]
The Source The 100 Best Rap Albums of All Time 1998 [33]
Spex Germany Albums of the Year 1997 19 [citation needed]
Spin United States 7 [34]
(various writers) 50 Years of Great Recordings 2006 * [35]
Vibe 51 Essential Albums 2004 [36]
150 Albums That Define the Vibe Era (1992–2007) 2007 [37]
Village Voice Pazz & Jop 1997 13 [38]

Commercial performance[edit]

Life After Death was released to a significant amount of critical praise and commercial success. The album sold 690,000 copies in its first week.[39] In 2000, the album was certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA),[40] denoting shipment of 10 million copies (the threshold for double albums) and it has been credited as one of the best-selling rap albums of all time. It also made the largest jump to number one on the Billboard 200 chart in history, jumping from number 176 to number one in one week. Also, it spent four weeks at number one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and topped the Billboard Year-End chart as a Billboard 200 for 1997.[41]

It spent its four consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 from the weeks of April 12 to May 3, 1997, later being bombarded from the top entry by singer Mary J. Blige's third studio album, Share My World, which released on April 22.[42]

Legacy and influence[edit]

Although released in the wake of B.I.G.'s fatal shooting, Life After Death signaled a stylistic change in gangsta rap as it crossed to the commercial mainstream. After Life After Death, Puff Daddy's Bad Boy Records continued to bring pop and gangsta rap closer together: the references to violence and drug dealing remained, as did the "gangsta" rhetoric, but the previously dark production changed to a cleaner, sample-heavy, more upbeat sound that was fashioned for the pop charts, as seen in the single "Mo Money Mo Problems". The Notorious B.I.G. is often credited with initiating this transition, as he was among the first mainstream rappers to produce albums with a calculated attempt to include both gritty and realistic gangsta narratives as well as radio-friendly productions.

"It sounded for the first time like an East Coast artist had been able to make the perfect record. It was a pop record, a radio record, a street record, a club record. It embodied every type of song that a hip-hop artist could make – would wish to make, would try to make – in one project. His death magnified the meaning, but ultimately the finished product was super-substantial." – Busta Rhymes[43]

The majority of the album was produced by Steven "Stevie J" Jordan, Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie, Carlos "July Six" Broady, Ron Lawrence, and Nashiem Myrick. However, notable hip-hop producers such as Easy Mo Bee, Havoc from Mobb Deep, DJ Premier and RZA from Wu-Tang Clan contributed beats.

Various artists were specifically influenced by songs on Life After Death. Evidence's "Down in New York City" is essentially "Going Back to Cali" from the perspective of a West Coast hip hop artist. Jay-Z borrows four bars from "The World Is Filled..." in his song "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)", as well as the chorus from his song "Squeeze first" from "Hypnotize", a line in "The Ruler's Back" from "Kick in the Door" and "You're Nobody ('Til Somebody Kills You)" on "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)". Ice Cube borrows the chorus from "Kick in the Door" for his song "Child Support". As with B.I.G.'s "I Love the Dough" Monica's 2010 song "Everything to Me" samples "I Love You More" by René & Angela. The official remix includes a verse from B.I.G. that originally appeared on "I Love the Dough". SWV sampled "Ten Crack Commandments" on the opening track "Someone" featuring B.I.G.'s former protege and friend Puff Daddy. The French rapper Rohff named his album "La Vie Avant La Mort" (Life Before Death) (2001) as a tribute to B.I.G, Joey Badass interpolated the lines 'Kick in the Door' on "Super Predator" from All-Amerikkkan Badass (2017).

Track listing[edit]

Credits adapted from Life After Death liner notes.[44]

Disc one
1."Life After Death Intro"
2."Somebody's Gotta Die"
  • Myrick
  • Carlos "July Six" Broady
  • Combs
  • Wallace
  • Combs
  • Deric Angelettie
  • Ron Lawrence
  • Andy Armer
  • Randy Alpert
4."Kick in the Door"DJ Premier4:47
5."#!*@ You Tonight" (featuring R. Kelly)
  • Jones
  • Combs
6."Last Day" (featuring the Lox)
7."I Love the Dough" (featuring Jay-Z and Angela Winbush)Easy Mo Bee5:11
8."What's Beef?"
  • Wallace
  • Myrick
  • Broady
  • Broady
  • Myrick
  • Paragon[a]
9."B.I.G. Interlude"
  • Wallace
  • Angelettie
  • B.I.G.
  • Angelettie
10."Mo Money Mo Problems" (featuring Mase, Puff Daddy, and Kelly Price)
  • Combs
11."Niggas Bleed"
  • Wallace
  • Myrick
  • Combs
  • Jordan
  • Myrick
  • Broady
  • Combs
  • Stevie J.
12."I Got a Story to Tell"
13."Interview/Biggie Speaks" (hidden track)  11:28
Total length:61:18
Disc two
1."Notorious Thugs" (featuring Bone Thugs-n-Harmony)
  • Stevie J.
  • Combs
2."Miss U" (featuring 112)KayGee4:58
3."Another" (featuring Lil' Kim)
  • Combs
  • Stevie J.
4."Going Back to Cali"
Easy Mo Bee5:07
5."Ten Crack Commandments"
  • Wallace
  • Martin
DJ Premier3:24
6."Playa Hater"
  • Combs
  • Stevie J.
7."Nasty Boy"
  • Wallace
  • Combs
  • Jordan
8."Sky's the Limit" (featuring 112)Clark Kent5:29
9."The World Is Filled..." (featuring Too Short, Puff Daddy, and Carl Thomas)
  • Wallace
  • Angelettie
  • Combs
  • Kit Walker
  • Todd Shaw
10."My Downfall" (featuring D.M.C.)
11."Long Kiss Goodnight"
12."You're Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)"
Total length:59:21
Clean edition
2."Notorious Thugs"6:14
3."I Love the Dough" (featuring Jay-Z and Angela Winbush)5:40
4."B.I.G. Interlude"0:48
5."Miss U"4:05
6."Mo Money Mo Problems" (featuring Puff Daddy and Ma$e)4:17
7."Playa Hater"3:59
8."Another" (featuring Lil' Kim)4:22
9."Ten Commandments"3:24
10."Nasty Boy"3:51
11."Sky's the Limit" (featuring 112)4:37
12."Going Back to Cali"3:55
13."You're Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)"4:52
14."Lovin' You Tonight" (featuring R. Kelly)5:42
Total length:59:42

Disc one notes

  • ^[a] – co-producer
  • "Life After Death Intro" contains sample of "Suicidal Thoughts" by the Notorious B.I.G., and "This Masquerade" by George Benson.
  • "Somebody's Gotta Die" contains a sample of "In the Rain" by the Dramatics.
  • "Hypnotize" contains a sample of "Rise" by Herb Alpert, and an interpolation of "La Di Da Di" by Slick Rick & Doug E. Fresh.
  • "Kick in the Door" contains a sample of "I Put a Spell on You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins, "Unbelievable" by the Notorious B.I.G., interpolations of "Get Money" by Junior M.A.F.I.A., "Wash Yo Ass" by Martin Lawrence, and "Robby, the Cook, and 60 Gallons of Booze" by Louis & Bebe Barron.
  • "I Love the Dough" contains a sample and an interpolation of "I Love You More" by René & Angela, and "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" by Rod Stewart.
  • "What's Beef?" contains a sample of "I'm Glad You're Mine" by Al Green and "Close to You" by Richard Evans.
  • "B.I.G. Interlude" contains a sample of "P.S.K. What Does It Mean?" by Schooly D.
  • "Mo Money Mo Problems" contains a sample of "I'm Coming Out" by Diana Ross.
  • "Niggas Bleed" contains a sample of "Hey, Who Really Cares" by the Whispers.
  • "I Got a Story to Tell" contains a sample of "I'm Glad You're Mine" by Al Green.

Disc two notes

  • "Notorious Thugs" contains a sample of "More Than Love" by Ohio Players.
  • "Miss U" contains an interpolation of "Missing You" by Diana Ross.
  • "Another" contains a sample and interpolation of "Another Man" by Barbara Mason.
  • "Going Back to Cali" contains a sample of "More Bounce to the Ounce" by Zapp.
  • "Ten Crack Commandments" contains samples of "Vallarta" by Les McCann, and "Shut 'Em Down" by Public Enemy.
  • "Playa Hater" contains a sample and interpolation of "Hey Love" by the Delfonics.
  • "Nasty Boy" contains a sample of "Cavern" by Liquid Liquid.
  • "Sky's the Limit" contains a sample of "My Flame" by Bobby Caldwell.
  • "The World Is Filled..." contains a sample of "Space Talk" by Asha Puthli, and "The What" by the Notorious B.I.G.
  • "My Downfall" contains a sample of "For the Good Times" by Al Green and an interpolation of "You're All I Need to Get By" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.
  • "Long Kiss Goodnight" contains a sample of "The Letter" by Al Green.




  • Sean "Puffy" Combs – producer, mixing
  • Carlos "6 July" Broady – producer, hammond organ
  • Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie – producer
  • Stevie J – producer
  • Nashiem Myrick – producer
  • Ron Lawrence – producer
  • Easy Mo Bee – producer
  • DJ Premier – producer
  • Clark Kent – producer
  • RZA – producer
  • Havoc – producer
  • Buckwild – producer
  • Kay Gee – editor, producer
  • Chucky Thompson – producer
  • DJ Enuff – producer
  • Daron Jones – producer
  • Paragon – producer
  • Jiv Pos – producer
  • Mike Pitts – assistant producer, editor
  • Michael Patterson – engineer, mixing
  • Charles "Prince Charles" Alexander – engineer, mixing
  • Lane Craven – engineer, mixing
  • Manny Marroquin – engineer
  • Camilo Argumedes – engineer
  • Stephen Dent – engineer
  • Ben Garrison – engineer
  • Rasheed Goodlowe – engineer
  • Steve Jones – engineer
  • Rich July – engineer
  • John Meredith – engineer
  • Lynn Montrose – engineer
  • Axel Niehaus – engineer
  • Diana Pedraza – engineer
  • Doug Wilson – engineer
  • Tony Maserati – mixing
  • Paul Logus – mixing
  • Eddie Sancho – mixing
  • Richard Travali – mixing
  • Herb Powers – mastering



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[61] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[62] Gold 10,000
United Kingdom (BPI)[63] Platinum 300,000*
United States (RIAA)[65] 11× Platinum 5,360,000[64]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]


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  4. ^
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  7. ^ Lynskey, Dorian (May 2015). "The Greatest Songs Ever! Hypnotize". Blender: 64.
  8. ^ a b Full Clip: Q-Tip Runs Down His Music Catalogue Ft. Tribe, De La Soul, Nas, Biggie, The Roots, Dilla & More! Vibe. Accessed on February 16, 2022.
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  13. ^ a b Coker, Cheo Hodari (March 26, 1997). "A Memorable 'Life' on Its Own Merits". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
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External links[edit]