The Notorious B.I.G. "Ready to Die" (1994)
The title track from Biggie's debut is as ominous and doom-obsessed as anything ever put to wax before it (or after it). Rapping as if there were no sunlight in the studio—or in New York—the Brooklyn MC spews off a list of frustrations that have him so irate, he doesn't feel like life's worth being around foranymore. Making the track particularly sinister is Biggie's unflinching desire to take all of his enemies to the grave with him. An early death is coldy accepted as an inevitable outcome of Biggie's life: "I'm ready to die and nobody can save me." Puffy's ad-libbed prayers at the end seal the deal: Far from relief, they crystallize the track as the chilling document of a crime-ridden life that still resonates as sharply (and darkly) as it did the day it was released.