Excuse Christopher Wallace -- aka the Notorious B.I.G. and aka Biggie Smalls -- for not sounding more enthused. While recording his debut album, Ready to Die -- released 27 years ago, on September 13, 1994 -- the 22-year old former drug dealer had a sick mom to care for and a baby girl to feed. Just because he had a record deal, there was no guarantee the Brooklyn rapper would make it through his 20s alive.
And yet Biggie was cool with that -- so cool, in fact, that he called the record Ready to Die. The title is as complex as the man himself. Depending on the track, it speaks to his fearlessness, his nihilism, and his unique brand of New York City pragmatism. Throughout these 17 songs, there's a sense Biggie could go at any moment, and on tunes like "Everyday Struggle" and chilling closer "Suicidal Thoughts," he welcomes the bullet as a source of relief.