Who Helped Make Biggie's Albums Classics?

The Notorious B.I.G. controlled tracks and needed little more than a producer and engineer to create magic n the studio. His first two albums Ready to Die and Life After Death are certified hip-hop classics (but you already knew that). Biggie was one of the greatest rappers of all time on his own, but he shined alongside others artists too. As we celebrate his birthday anniversary of his 41st, VIBE revisits some of the guest artists that contributed to the brilliance of these projects. --Sowmya Krishnamurthy

“The What” feat. Method Man
Biggie’s 1994 debut Ready to Die was a true introduction to the rapper. Part menacing, oftentimes heartbreaking, the album wove vivid tales of living in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. The album’s lone collaboration is also one of its best songs, “The What” featuring Wu-Tang’s Method Man. Big and Meth trade memorable verses like “Biggie Smalls is the illest/Your style is played out/Like Arnold and that, what you talkin' bout Willis.”

“I Love the Dough” feat. Jay-Z and Angela Winbush
If Biggie was NY’s greatest, then Jay-Z comes in at a very close second. Hearing these two well-matched rappers go toe-to-toe with each other again (They collaborated on “Brooklyn’s Finest” on Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt) and see who could out-ball the other was what competitive rap should be.

“Mo Money Mo Problems” feat. Puff Daddy and Mase
One of Biggie’s biggest crossover hits, “Mo Money Mo Problems” also spawned a catchphrase that has found its way into larger pop culture. Try not to swing your (fake) Rolex in the air when this track comes on.

“Fuck You Tonight” feat. R. Kelly
Strange upon first look, but ladies loved Big Poppa. “Fuck You Tonight” featuring 90s rap’s resident crooner, R. Kelly, gave the ladies a song to vibe to that wasn’t soft or corny. No tricking dough on this one, just “Strictly sex that's pretty and leftover spaghetti.”

“Notorious Thugs” feat. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
Biggie showed lyrical versatility on “Notorious Thugs,” in that he could kind of rap like Bone, which is not easy task. The piano-laden song about drugs and regrets remains a fan favorite to this day.

“Sky’s the Limit” feat. 112
One of the more optimistic songs on Life After Death, “Sky’s the Limit” painted Biggie’s rise to the top from humble beginnings. A “Juicy” redux if you will, with R&B accompaniment by Bad Boy collective 112.

“Another” feat. Lil’ Kim
Before Chris Brown and Rihanna, Biggie and Lil’ Kim exemplified hip-hop love gone wrong. The caustic “Another” is a back-and-forth between the real-life lovers, each accusing the other of wrongdoing. Their delivery and conviction was so real, it was hard to tell where life ended and art began.

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The New York Post reports Jeremiah Horton showed four of his friends at North College Hill High School the tape. Those friends then showed others, resulting in Jeremiah's expulsion.

In addition to registering as a Tier 2 second offender, a judge ordered him to spend six months at River City Correctional Center, a rehab facility for nonviolent felony offenders. Horton faced up to three years in a correctional facility.

“I don’t think that’s appropriate, but you did something you shouldn’t have done, obviously,” Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Patrick Dinkelacker told the teen. “And there’s a price to pay.”

Charges were filed in December when the 14-year-old girl's mother found the tape and took it to local authorities. Jeremiah was one of four teens prosecuted for his part. While in court, Horton pled guilty and apologized to the victim and her family.

“I’m not proud of what I did,” Horton said.


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Michigan Man Awarded $1.5 Million After Serving 46 Years On A Wrongful Conviction

When Richard Philips was 27-years-old, he was found guilty of dragging a man named Gregory Harris out of his car and shooting him to death. Harris' brother-in-law corroborated the story and told investigators he met with Philips in a local bar to discuss the murder.

Yet despite the statement from the victim's relative, Philips maintained his innocence. It wasn't enough, however, and Philips went onto spend 46 years in prison.

Then in 2010, Richard Polombo came forward and admitted to the killing. It would be another four years before the Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan's law school heard Polombo's confession, and another three in legal proceedings before Philips was granted a new trial in 2017.

In March of 2018, Philips was a free man. CNN reports that Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has awarded Philips $1.5 million, $50,000 for each year he was imprisoned. The money will not be taxed and Philips won't lose any of it in lawyer fees.

In 1990, Philips began painting to "to stave off loneliness," and began selling his artwork in prison to fellow inmates. The money he made went into purchasing more supplies. Philips' watercolor paintings echoed themes of hope and survival.

Now, at 73 years old, Philips rents a small apartment and hopes to buy a home with his money. For now, he's enjoying life's simple pleasures and along with his new home, he says he also wants a German Shepherd puppy.

"He is pretty well-adjusted. He says that he is not bitter," Gabi Silver, Philips' attorney said.

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Facebook Bans Maryland Artist For Turning 'MAGA' Hats Into Klan Hood And Swastika

A Maryland artist says her livelihood is in jeopardy after Facebook banned her page prohibiting her from contacting her followers of upcoming art shows. The offense? Turning Donald Trump's 'MAGA' hats into Ku Klux Klan hoods and Swastikas.

Kate Kretz says she rips apart the well-known red Make America Great Again hat and turns them into other divisive symbols. While speaking with WUSA 9, she said her art is meant to start a dialogue.

"The armband is actually titled, 'Only the Terrorized Own the Right to Name Symbols of Terror,' and so if people are afraid of people that are walking around with MAGA hats because they’re afraid of violence," Kretz said. "It’s not really up to the wearer to say 'oh you shouldn’t feel afraid of me.' "

Kretz said she mostly received positive feedback, but about four or five days after an image of a reimagined Swastika band made from the red MAGA hat appeared, Facebook shut down her page citing it violated community standards. Kretz appealed the decision but says she hasn't heard anything.

The Mount Rainier, Md resident said she buys knock-off MAGA hats for her art. "I wanted to make sure I wasn’t putting any money in [Trump’s] pocket,” Kretz said.

And while she knows art is subjective, as one of the many artists that help to make Facebook, she thinks Facebook should exercise more diplomacy.

"I understand doing things for the greater good," Kretz said. "However, I think artists are a big part of Facebook’s content providers, and they owe us a fair hearing.”

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