For the week of 4/29/2013…

“Warning” by the Notorious B.I.G.

Since finals week is upon me, I’m obviously spending an unhealthy amount of time awake very late at night (or early in the morning, depending on your perspective).  And one of the things I’m realizing as I toil away at my research papers is that a good amount of the Notorious B.I.G.’s 1994 debut album, Ready to Die, is quite well-suited to be listened to at this hour of the night.  Put on your headphones and the stereo production on tracks like “Things Done Changed,” “Ready to Die,” and “Me & My Bitch” makes you feel just a little bit glum; blissed-out guitar samples on “Machine Gun Funk,” “Warning,” and “The What” relax you; and samples of several types of keys on “Juicy,” “Everyday Struggle,” “Big Poppa,” “Unbelievable,” and “Suicidal Thoughts” inspire a variety of emotions.  Cut out louder tracks like “Gimme the Loot,” “One More Chance,” “Respect,” and “Friend of Mine” — oh, and those damn skits — and you’ve got a pretty damn good late-night hip-hop playlist for a night when you want to swing back and forth between feeling cocky and depressed, all the while keeping things chill and subdued.

“Warning” is probably my favorite Biggie Smalls track.  It’s just so perfectly crafted.  The production is stellar.  Biggie delivers two of his tightest verses, in the process rapping both sides of a telephone conversation.  I don’t know if “damn, niggaz wanna stick me for my paper” really counts as a chorus — it only appears in the song once — but it’s a pretty damn great hook, regardless.  Oh, and the outro, in which Puff Daddy portrays a pair of hapless jealous criminals trespassing at Biggie’s crib, remains Sean Combs’ single best contribution to music.  (Talk about damning with faint praise…I do really like that mini-skit, though.)

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