The 30 Greatest Hip-Hop Demos

#1. The Notorious B.I.G., Three Song Demo (1991)

The Notorious B.I.G. "Guaranteed Raw"

The Notorious B.I.G. "Love No Hoe"

The Notorious B.I.G. "Microphone Murderer"


Originally recorded in B.I.G.’s DJ 50 Grand’s Bedford Ave. basement before being re-recorded at DJ Mister Cee’s crib, this is the big poppa of rap demos. Forget the fact that it won “Unsigned Hype” honors in March 1992, thus piquing the interest of one Sean Combs and leading to B.I.G.’s deal with Uptown (and consequently) Bad Boy. Forget the fact that it represents the start of one of the most comet-like careers in hip-hop history. Just listen and appreciate the beauty in its simplicity: single-take performances, no overdubs, not even any samples. Just a DJ going back and forth on two copies of classic breakbeats, and an emcee ferociously spitting heat, his burgeoning talent only exceeded by his hunger.

Ironically enough, when B.I.G.’s demo was initially aired on WKCR back in the day the reception was less than enthusiastic. Bobbito: “Me and Stretch did a demo battle around ’92 with a group called Bronx Zu and an unsigned artist named Biggie Smalls [with the winner decided by the listeners]. The phones lit up and... Bronx Zu won by a landslide! Obviously, no one ever heard about them afterwards and Biggie wound up being one of the biggest selling artists of the era. Crazy, right?” No such shenanigans in this countdown, though. Now and forever, B.I.G. is king.

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