Jay-Z feat. The Notorious B.I.G. “Brooklyn’s Finest”
A fan-favorite from Jay’s 1996 debut, Reasonable Doubt, “Brooklyn’s Finest” is the duo’s love song to their home-borough. The pals grew up together battling at their high school in downtown Brooklyn (along with rap great Busta Rhymes), and this homage to their roots and longtime camaraderie has stood the test of time as one of Biggie’s best collabs and one of hip hop’s favorite moments.
Biggie feat. Method Man “The What”
Though Biggie’s 1994 debut, Ready to Die, stacks this collab against one of the rapper’s most successful singles (“Big Poppa”), “The What” remains special in its own right as the only track on the album with a featured artist. Method Man’s appearance on the track came about a year after The Wu-Tang Clan had released their legendary debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), which helped set the stage for this era in East Coast hip hop.
This classic posse cut brings together a band of east coast MCs on Biggie’s only collab with Craig Mack while he was alive. The original version of the song dropped in the summer of 1994 and at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100, but the remix version heats things up with the addition of LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes and Rampage, not to mention Biggie. Also peep Diddy (when he was still Puff Daddy) in the music video, below.
Biggie feat. Eminem “Dead Wrong”
This posthumous collab sees a young Eminem rapping alongside Biggie’s verse in one of hip hop’s grimiest tracks ever. The song was released in 1999 on Biggie’s Born Again, which took unreleased material recorded by the rapper in the early ‘90s and repurposed it with new production and guests. Amidst the song’s graphic murder and sex fantasies, Biggie proclaims, “Who you think you’re dealing with?/ Anybody step into my path is f***ing feeling it!” in what are definitely the track’s most lighthearted lines. Em really ran with the “horrorcore” niche, putting out his highly divisive song “Kim” on The Marshall Mathers LP just a few months later in May 2000.
Tupac feat. Biggie “Runnin’ (Dying to Live)”
This 2002 rework of 1995’s “Runnin’ From Tha Police” appeared in the 2003 documentary "Tupac: Resurrection," and represents one of the duo’s only collaborations. The original track also features Stretch, Buju Banton and Dramacydal, but Eminem, who produced the second version, stripped it down to Biggie and Pac’s verses and added a hook from Edgar Winter’s “Dying to Live,” which also lends itself to the track’s updated title.
Puff Daddy feat. Biggie, The LOX & Lil’ Kim “It’s All About The Benjamins”
Diddy puts Biggie in the spotlight on this track in the form of a totally changed up beat in the second half of the song when his verse kicks in. Is this Puffy’s way of outwardly admitting, “Yeah, Biggie’s in an entirely different league than everyone else on this track…,” or is he organically raising the stakes to match the rapper’s ability? Or both? Either way, Biggie brings a hard energy to the track, featured on Diddy’s 1997 debut, No Way Out.
Michael Jackson feat. Biggie “This Time Around”
Even if you’re not a pop music fan, a list of Biggie collabs just can’t overlook a piece of work with the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson. The funk-influenced “This Time Around” appears on Jackson’s 1995 album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I, and is one of the singer’s few tracks featuring rappers.
Biggie feat. Mase & Puff Daddy “Mo Money Mo Problems”
This iconic track borrows a one of hip hop’s most memorable samples from Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out,” and remains one of Biggie’s most recognized songs. “Mo Money Mo Problems” topped the Billboard 200 when it was released posthumously on Life After Death, just weeks after the rapper’s death.
Biggie feat. R. Kelly “F*** You Tonight”
Smalls gets smooth with R. Kelly on this track, which seduces the listener in a sexy and explicit way that only Kells can really pull off. The message is clear on the crooner’s hook: “You must be used to me spending/And all that sweet wining and dining/Well, I'm f***in’ you tonight.” Meanwhile Biggie waxes poetic about spines tingling, tongues delivering, asses wiggling and a girl that looks like a Rolex. This collab is a welcome piece of punctuation among some of Biggie’s more traditionally hard tracks.
Puff Daddy feat. Biggie and Busta Rhymes “Victory”
This gangsta rap song is another track off Diddy’s debut album, and takes on a much more aggressive tone than the rest of the record. All three MCs bring their own very different flavors to the table on this, but it all comes together to create a really memorable collar. That's a feat impressive in its own right, considering Big Poppa appears on the album four times - keeping it fresh is important. And while Busta's contribution is solid, the progression of Puffy and Biggie's work together is really what makes this track stand out.
A look through The Notorious B.I.G.'s best and most memorable collaborations.
If a rapper’s collab. roster is any indication of his talent as an artist, The Notorious B.I.G. reached an astounding level of respect from his peers in his career. Though his 1997 death left behind only two studio albums, colleagues and friends went on to put out three more posthumous albums and extend his legacy well into the present landscape of hip hop. Biggie’s raps have appeared alongside everyone from Jay-Z, to Michael Jackson, to Eminem, and his songs continue to be sampled regularly by the new school rappers taking over the charts in the present day.
Like many artists whose careers are cut short, fans will always wonder what could have been. Many of Biggie’s collaborators and supporters remain among hip hop’s elite, serving as constant reminders of one of the East Coast’s favorite rappers and one of the industry’s most respected legends. In honor of the anniversary of his untimely death on March 9th, here are 10 of Biggie’s best collaborations.