You don’t want to hear Abe Beame’s demos.

Biggie was unpredictable. A demo called “Love No Ho” could have tenderness, compassion, romantic tragedy and darkness. While we remember “Me & My Bitch” for its rawness, intensity, and palpable loss in every bar. But it also gives us perspective on an ugly, destructive element of young love.

We open with the thunderbolt. Biggie offers lust not love. We never get closer to his “Bitch” then we do from this, the primarily surface description at the onset. Biggie mistakes her for a prostitute, offering a declaration of desire so profane that even now it plays like a questionable choice of words. Courting is an afterthought, and by bar seven, she’s an accessory to drug distribution. In the next line, he cops to infidelity. By the end of the first verse, Big declares that he’s occasionally kind when drunk, but if his “bitch” steps out of line, domestic abuse follows.

The next verse is complex. In its first half, Biggie ignores the titular female to articulate the archetypal “down ass chick.” Essentially, Lil Cease with a vagina. It’s a fitting description – rather than the Faith Evans mink fur type (that he would eventually marry), he wants a friend and equal. Moving on, he itemizes a laundry list of petty, destructive, violent measures that Biggie’s real-life girl will take when she feels betrayed.

With the level of detail he employs, one senses how perversely pleased Biggie is with his girl’s behavior – her acts that jibe with his emotionally damaged but consistent logic. The relationship is based on insecurity and imbalance. By the extraordinary measures the “bitch” takes, Biggie knows how much his possessive partner loves him. He drives her so crazy that she would defile a toothbrush or toss his clothes in the street. The sort of thing that rewards the worst impulses of love.

The last couplet is pure masterpiece. Wisely, Puffy and Rza flipped it to hammer home the PG-13 version of Mary J. Blige and Method Man’s “All I Need,” the track that owned the summer of ’95. With this line, Biggie offers a brief respite, revealing that beneath the brutality and rage, there are equally intense moments of passion and almost desperate bonding. Piece by piece, he masterfully portrays “the REALEST relationship ever.”

And though we hardly know her, like that, she’s gone. Biggie drops into a linear story with the last verse, uncharacteristically squandering words when only moments ago, every one was precious. He’s unnecessarily detail-oriented, walking us through the minutia of the moments before he discovers her untimely demise. Of course, even here he’s brilliant, building suspense and roping us into what has been something of a wandering narrative up to this point. The best part is the cautious 180 when he finally stumbles on the crime scene. For all his self proclaimed love and passion, with a deep hole opening in the pit of his stomach, the piece of shit woman-beating drug dealer Biggie plays here, has the presence of mind to dump his gun before rolling up on his girlfriend’s corpse.

“Me & My Bitch” is one of the most brutal songs on Ready to Die because while others attain its level of savagery, this one exhibits how “the life” seeps into all facets of existence. The institution of love is polluted by violence, crime and wildly uneven passions — one partner pays for the other’s decisions with her life. The real tragedy of “Me & My Bitch” isn’t the girl’s death, but the relationship that led to it. For all the odes to heartbreak that exist across genres, I can’t think of any other song so willing to examine the rancor of a ruined relationship. Some may claim Mr. Cheeks bested it a year later with the Lost Boyz parent approved “Renee”, but those people are bitches.

Download:
MP3: The Notorious B.I.G.-“Me and My Bitch” (Unreleased Mix)