Bad Boy Entertainment is celebrating its 20th anniversary with the release of a 5CD digitally remastered box set. Featuring nothing but the biggest anthems and best underground cuts from the label’s impressive roster, Bad Boy’s 20+ year legacy as one of the true ruling authorities in hip hop is perfectly put together with a 64-page historiography and foreword by hip hip journalist Michael A. Gonzales.
“Bad Boy helped make hip hop what it is today,” said Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs aka Puff Daddy, the Founder and Chairman of Bad Boy Entertainment. “This collection highlights all the music, history and vision that made Bad Boy number one. We wanted to thank our fans, celebrate the music, the people, and the Bad Boy lifestyle that have defined the past two decades. We’ve always made music that makes the people dance; this collection does all that and more, and it is a celebration of all things Bad Boy.”
Kicking off the careers of Faith Evans, Ma$e, Total, Black Rob, 112, Craig Mack, Carl Thomas, The Lox, G. Dep, Shyne, Diddy himself, and of course the legendary Christopher Wallace aka The Notorious B.I.G., there’s no denying the impact the label has made on hip hop culture and music culture period.
But what are Bad Boy’s biggest hits? We run down our top 20 in no particular order:
Puff Daddy (Feat. The Notorious B.I.G.) – ‘Victory’ (1997)
Anything that samples something from the movie Rocky – on this occasion the Bill Conti song ‘Going the Distance’ – is already going to have you amped. Add to this two mafioso posthumous verses from Biggie, a hook from an always energetic Busta Rhymes, and another verse from Diddy and you’ve got a great first look into the Puff Daddy rap brand, as well as the perfect track to work out to. Oh, and let’s not forget the accompanying video which is one of the most expensive music videos of all-time with production costs somewhere near the $2.7m mark.
Ma$e (Feat. Total) – ‘What You Want’ (1998)
With hip hop’s jiggy era in full swing one of its biggest stars was former Children of the Corn spitter Ma$e. Dropping the Murda from his name and kitting himself out in shiny suits and ski goggles, ‘What You Want’ was the second big hit to come from Ma$e’s debut album, Harlem World. A love song of sorts – the video gives it a bit of a groupie twist – no Curtis Mayfield sample has ever been used so simplistically and with the same kind of bounce.
Cassie – ‘Me & U’ (2006)
Way before Diddy and Cassie were an item, the young model was signed to Ryan Leslie’s NextSelection imprint and in partnership with Bad Boy released her self-titled debut album. The first single, ‘Me & U’, catapulted her to household name status almost overnight, even though she had been sitting on the song for a while. After the video dropped Cassie had every girl on the planet mimicking her mirror routine, which itself paid homage to Janet Jackson’s ‘The Pleasure Principle’ video.
Total (Feat. The Notorious B.I.G.) – ‘Can’t You See’ (1995)
Still popular to this day – look up the ‘Can’t You See’ dance challenge – Total’s debut single well and truly put them on the map. Having a guest verse from the hottest rapper in the world at the time didn’t hurt, neither did the era-defining dance moves. Breezy, soulful and undeniably addictive, ‘Can’t You See’ is easily one of the biggest R&B records of the 90s.
The Notorious B.I.G. – ‘Juicy’ (1994)
A giant hip hop anthem that Biggie originally didn’t want to do, after listening to Puff’s advice and putting the record out ‘Juicy’ blew up so fast that the rags-to-riches story he talks about on the song became an even bigger reality. While it only peaked at number 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, it was enough to crossover into the pop world and also be regarded one of the greatest and most important hip hop songs ever by the likes of Rolling Stone, Q, The Source, VH1, and more.
Craig Mack (Feat. The Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes & Rampage) – ‘Flava in Ya Ear (Remix)’ (1994)
When talking about hip hop remixes there’s never a list that doesn’t include Craig Mack’s ‘Flava in Ya Ear’. Boasting an all-star cast that showcased the talents of the old school (LL Cool J) and new school (Biggie and Rampage), the Easy Mo Bee production alone – which was apparently meant to be for Apache but he declined due to tour commitments – is enough to get you acting a fool in the club. You want to talk about posse cuts? This is the ultimate posse cut.
Faith Evans – ‘Love Like This’ (1998)
Besides sparking one of the biggest anthems in hip hop history – ‘Be Faithful’ by Fatman Scoop – Faith Evans also saw her own fair share of success thanks to this record. Peaking at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, Keep the Faith’s lead single also earned the singer a Grammy nod for Best Female R&B Performance at the 1999 ceremony. Doing things bigger second time around, while Faith’s debut album was big her second was bigger thanks to ‘Love Like This’.
The Notorious B.I.G. – ‘Hypnotize’ (1997)
Released a just a week before his untimely death, ‘Hypnotize’ was the last single to be released in Biggie’s lifetime. Hitting the number one spot two weeks after its release, Biggie at the time became only the fifth person to have a number one record posthumously. With a catchy hook, numerous quotables, and another trademark flashy Bad Boy video it took over the world – and the number one spot from Puff Daddy who was reigning high with ‘Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down’. To this day it’s still played on a regular basis at parties and on commercial radio stations.
P. Diddy – ‘I Need A Girl Part One’ (Feat. Usher & Loon) & ‘Part Two’ (Feat. Ginuwine, Loon & Mario Winans) (2002)
So good we had to list them together, there’s no separating P. Diddy’s I-miss-you-J-Lo records. Part One plays like an airy love song designed for the bedroom – or the slow jam section of a club night (do they still do that?) – while Part Two is more uptempo and offers a bounce for people to move their feet to. Combining two of the most popular R&B artists at the time with Loon – Diddy’s new replacement for Ma$e – and two different beats, it was an obvious recipe for success and one that helped push the We Invented the Remix album to platinum status. Smooth and beyond romantic, if this didn’t make it on to your slow jam tape then you had no idea what the hell you were doing.
112 – ‘Peaches & Cream’ (2001)
Never before has there been a song that makes fruit sound so desirable – perhaps the government should use it in ad campaign to encourage kids to eat healthier. All jokes aside, this monster record was in the Top 40 for 25 weeks and rightly so. With an instrumental so head-noddingly good – courtesy of Mario Winans and Diddy – a sexy hook, and some very suggestive lyrical content that you can’t help but sing along to, you can see why. 112 may have been big already but this record took them over the top.
The Notorious B.I.G. (Feat. Faith Evans) – ‘One More Chance/Stay With Me’ (1995)
A remix that flipped the original taken from Biggie’s Ready To Die album, ‘One More Chance/Stay With Me’ samples DeBarge’s ‘Stay With Me’ and offers up a smoother groove than its predecessor. One of those records that gets a serious response when played at a party, B.I.G.’s big-and-sexy persona – much like Heavy D who was in the video – was never more apparent on record than this time. With a riveting flow and clever wordplay – “Some say the X makes the sex spec-tacular” – if there was ever a question as to who the king of New York was at the time then this record answered it.
Mario Winans (Feat. P. Diddy & Enya) – ‘I Don’t Wanna Know’ (2003)
Sampling Enya’s ‘Boadicea’ and featuring re-recorded vocals from the singer herself, Mario Winans reached number one in the UK with ‘I Don’t Wanna Know’ in 2003 and had an eight week run at number two on Billboard’s Hot 100. With a similar feel to The Fugees’ ‘Ready or Not’, which used the same sample, fans of both hip hop and R&B alike were drawn to this tale of mind games and infidelity. Getting some shine after working behind the scenes for so long, this is Mario Winans’ most successful record to date.
The Lox (Feat. Lil’ Kim & DMX) – ‘Money, Power & Respect’ (1998)
Moving away from the shiny suits and changing into some jeans and Timbs, Jadakiss, Styles P and Sheek Louch were able to embrace their hardcore heritage on ‘Money, Power & Respect’. Teaming up with DMX – who was on fire during this period – and having Lil’ Kim on the hook, the gritty piano arrangement and eerie strings added to the terror that was X’s verse. A gold-selling single, this is The Lox’s most successful record to date.
Shyne (Feat. Barrington Levy) – ‘Bad Boyz’ (2000)
“Now tell me who want to f**k with us?/ Ashes to ashes, dust to dust/ I bang – and let your f**kin’ brains hang, snitches.” Announcing himself to the world with aggression and letting everyone know not to test him, Shyne’s debut single saw him pair up with reggae star Barrington Levy – and what a collaboration it was. At a time when hip hop and reggae collaborations were growing in popularity in came Shyne with an alternative to the crossover dance records, instead his hip hop/reggae crossbreed was made for the streets, and boy did they love it.
Black Rob – ‘Whoa!’ (2000)
Looking to start a riot? Push play on Black Rob’s Buckwild-produced single ‘Whoa!’ – that’ll get them started. Tough mannered with an addictive hook and a beat that could be used as entrance music for any fighter the world over, this was the perfect introduction for Black Rob. His Life Story album is one of Bad Boy’s unsung classics, it’s just a shame his career fell by the wayside as time went on. ‘Whoa!’ is an undeniable smash.
G. Dep (Feat. Keith Murray, Ghostface Killah & Craig Mack) – ‘Special Delivery (Remix)’ (2002)
Created in the same vein as Craig Mack’s ‘Flava in Ya Ear’ remix – just look at the video for confirmation of this – G. Dep’s biggest hit turned into Bad Boy’s most popular remix of the new millennium era. Lyrical from start to finish, Diddy even dug up Craig Mack and brought him back for a second bite at the cherry with a guest spot on this one. With so much potential to move forward as Bad Boy’s street music flag flyer, it just wasn’t to be. He turned himself in for a cold case murder from 1993 and is currently serving a 15 year sentence at Elmira Correctional Facility in upstate New York.
The Notorious B.I.G. (Feat. Puff Daddy & Ma$e) – ‘Mo Money Mo Problems’ (1997)
The second single from Biggie’s Life After death album, the single topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart knocking off Puff Daddy’s tribute to Biggie himself, ‘I’ll Be Missing You’. Based on airplay and chart success, ‘Mo Money Mo Problems’ is considered one of the most popular singles in hip hop history. Nominated for a Grammy in 1998 for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, the song which samples Diana Ross’s ‘I’m Coming Out’ was ranked number 63 by VH1 on their ‘100 Greatest Songs of the 90s’ list.
P. Diddy (Feat. Black Rob & Mark Curry) – ‘Bad Boy For Life’ (2001)
A declaration of strength – a war cry if you will – ‘Bad Boy For Life’ was Diddy’s “I’m back and better than ever” anthem following the various lawsuits and personal struggles he was going through at the time. Working with a lot of new names within the Bad Boy camp, this single was the coming out party for the new Bad Boy family. Produced by Megahertz, the unique guitar riff and diverse drum pattern made it one of the most recognisable records of the 2000s. The video featured a suburban neighbourhood taken over by Diddy and his crew with cameos from: Ben Stiller, Xzibit, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Shaquille O’Neal, Crazy Town, Dave Navarro, Travis Barker, and more.
Carl Thomas – ‘I Wish’ (2000)
Spending six weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart, Carl Thomas’ song about loving someone else’s woman got him a Soul Train Award nomination in 2001 for Best R&B/Soul Single. While the original single proved popular, the remix featuring LL Cool J found a fan base with mixtape DJs and hip hop connoisseurs. Who knew a simple piano arrangement and drum loop would be the basis of one of Bad Boy’s most favoured singles?
Puff Daddy (Feat. Faith Evans and 112) – ‘I’ll Be Missing You’ (1997)
Not only Bad Boy’s biggest selling single of all-time, Puff Daddy’s tribute to The Notorious B.I.G., ‘I’ll Be Missing You’, is also one of the biggest selling singles of all-time, any genre. Currently ranked the 99th biggest song of all-time in the United States, you’ll be hard pushed to find someone who doesn’t like the ‘Every Breath You Take’ sampled smash. Painting a time in history, the life of Biggie will never be forgotten, especially if this track has anything to do with it. Number one in over 18 countries, it has sold over eight million copies to date. With a fairly basic music video, to get a true understanding and feel of the song and what it meant to Puffy and the hip hop community watch the performance with the song’s original composer, Sting, at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards.
Bad Boy Entertainment’s 5CD Digitally Remastered 20th Anniversary Box Set is out now via Bad Boy Entertainment/Rhino Records. – IBtimes