Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

8. The Notorious BIGReady To Die

To me this is the greatest rap record ever. Nothing can touch this, not in a million years. It’s a magnum opus that seems to get better and better with age. It perfectly describes New York, and I remember hearing this being played literally everywhere you went in the city: in clubs, out of cars, in bodegas and stores. This is the sound of 1994. There was no escaping it. The videos are on TV, on Video Music Box, it’s everywhere. It’s New York. It is your environment.

That’s not to say everyone had drug shoot-outs happening outside their window, though I’ve lived in those neighbourhoods back in the day. It’s like this soundtrack to living in this really insane city, where you have to watch and be aware of what’s going on. Not super hyper aware, but you can’t be walking around blabbing on your iPhone. You can’t do that. But it’s this feeling, you’re right in this city where all this stuff is happening, that these guys are talking about.

In my world it was hip-hop that overtook everything. I feel stupid saying, "I was there", but I kinda was. It’s way more personal. I could have chosen Public Enemy – It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, which came out the year I moved to New York, or other records that didn’t make the cut – Gang Starr was another, their third record. But you have to choose, and this is the most personal.

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: D Double E, Lydia Lunch
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