October 26, 2011

Abe Beame likes black Tim’s and black hoodies.

Ready to Die ends with a bang. After an album of unbridled aggression and desperation, the climax is delivered through a quiet, inverted moment of reflection. Throughout his masterpiece, there are demons chasing the protagonists of Biggie’s songs. Though we never hear their deaths explicitly, we can make educated assumptions. But in the album’s final minutes, the BPMs slow, the demons catch up, and we watch the last gasp in vivid detail.

Though inhabiting the spirits of other characters, Biggie spends most of the album talking to himself. But on “Suicidal Thoughts” he has Puff on the other end of the line, which somehow makes the song more chilling—a scenario grounded in plausible reality, Big calling his producer to let some shit off his chest.

Interestingly enough, Biggie’s judgment against himself is based largely on his transgressions against women—specifically, his mother and his child’s mother. Only two songs ago, Biggie was giving listeners advice to fuck a girl’s sister if you really want to get under her skin. Now, seemingly distraught and self loathing, Biggie asks “My baby mother’s eight months, her little sister’s two, who’s to blame for both of them?”

But this isn’t a moment for armchair analysis, Biggie is pouring his heart out and his argument is second to its emotion. “Suicidal Thoughts” captures the existential despair of a morally conflicted young man, one confined to his metaphorical four-cornered room early in life. We see a moment of weakness, extreme in its intensity but immediately recognizable: a Yom Kippur of the soul.

This is the moment when we’re visited by past sins in the wee hours and left with no defense. Biggie is overwhelmed by guilt, by shame, by horror and he pulls the trigger. On Ready to Die Biggie was plagued by rivals, scandalous women, the Feds, but in the end, the greatest threat to his existence was himself. Perhaps the greatest Hip Hop album ever made ends with his partner, his adversary, his friend calling his name. But Christopher Wallace is gone.

Download:
MP3: The Notorious B.I.G.-“Suicidal Thoughts”

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