Review Summary: Great follow up but don't expect the greatness of Ready To Die.
It's sad that The Notorious B.I.G. passed away only 2 weeks prior to his follow up to his classic Ready To Die. The album is to this day a must listen and is even on the top of a lot of lists as one of the greatest albums ever.
One thing that distinguished this album from the rest of the crowd was the amount of guest that appeared on it. Everyone that's on this album only makes the listen greater from R & B greats to Hip Hop gods. This feels like a continuation from Ready To Die not only because of it's obvious "Previously on Ready To Die" intro but also the themes that Biggie raps about on the album.
It feels like a great gangster tale of the likes of The Godfather and Scarface and it can be noticed by the cover of Life After Death. Every track has a different mood but also shows a different style and flow that Biggie uses to murder the track on. You can see that theme on songs like the money loving "I Love The Dough" which sounds like success and "The Ten Crack Commandments" where Chris Wallace lays down the rules to being successful drug lord.
This is a success story made through music and is quite genius when one realizes how the songs are laid out, even though it is a double album. There are 12 tracks on each disc and even though it is a lengthy album, the length of each disc makes the experience a little more tolerable.
The production is another thing that needs to be noticed. DJ Premier, The RZA, Easy Mo Bee, Havoc, and The Hitmen create great music that not only shows Biggie's greatness, but also challenges him to become better. Even though some of the songs might be aimed at a pop audience, Biggie always uses the beat to his advantage to make it his own.
This album is not flawless however. There are some laughable tracks that are so bad that they're good especially "Playa Hater" where Biggie sings! You know you're a successful rapper if you make a song where you sing the whole damn song as if you were contesting for American Idol.
Some of the other material feels like filler but when heard multiple times, gets better because it feels that Biggie tried his hardest to make every song as good as the last. Listening to the music now still feels relevant and timeless and could probably make it's way to the charts today.
With its obvious masterful wordplay and fine production that only improved The Notorious B.I.G. to become arguably, the greatest rapper ever, Life After Death is The Godfather Part III of sequels. It's great but leaves the audience hanging a little of what could have been an awesome follow up (which it is).