In this song, Notorious B.I.G. raps about his humble beginnings and unlikely rise to fame. He grew up in Brooklyn at a time when rap was just emerging in that area and widely considered a passing fad. In the song, he mentions several hip-hop pioneers who influenced him, including Marley Marl and Mr. Magic.
This samples "Juicy Fruit" by the funk group Mtume.
Donovan Berry - El Dorado, AR, for above 2
On August 4, 1994 (four days before this single's release), Biggie married R&B singer Faith Evans.
This was the rapper's first hit as a solo artist.
Music producer Pete Rock claims Sean "Puffy" Combs, who was executive producer for the Ready to Die album, stole the "Juicy" beat from him. Rock told Wax Poetics:
"I did the original version, didn't get credit for it. They came to my house, heard the beat going on the drum machine, it's the same story. You come downstairs at my crib, you hear music. He heard that s--t and the next thing you know it comes out. They had me do a remix, but I tell people, and I will fight it to the end, that I did the original version of that. I'm not mad at anybody, I just want the correct credit."
The lyrics, "Time to get paid, blow up like the World Trade" reference the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. On February 26, 1993, Al-Qaeda-funded terrorists detonated a truck bomb at the base of the North Tower, hoping the explosion would cause the building to crash into the South Tower, destroying them both. Although the plan didn't work, over a thousand people were injured and six people were killed.
This was featured in the 2002 movie 8 Mile, starring Eminem.
As the lyrics "the building I was hustlin' in front of" imply, Biggie was a drug dealer until he signed the contract for his debut album. According to the hip-hop magazine XXL, the rapper took Puffy's advice and abandoned the business for the sake of his music career. It was a narrow escape: just one day after he left a drug house in North Carolina, it was raided by the police.
Biggie's mother didn't appreciate the picture of squalor her son painted in this song. While the family didn't have much money, she said, they weren't poverty-stricken. "To me, that's a part of an alter-ego. That's the rags to riches person that he wants to sing about. In all my son's life, my son left my home when he was 20, and there was not one single second when I didn't have food on my table," she explained in the 2002 documentary Biggie and Tupac.
This was named the greatest hip-hop song of all time in a 2019 poll
for BBC Music. Public Enemy's "Fight The Power
" was runner-up and Mobb Deep's "Shook Ones (Part II)" came in third.
Over 100 experts voted for the list. "That infinite optimism - going from broke to paid, nobody to legend - still propels rap and keeps us dreaming," wrote hip-hop journalist Sowmya Krishnamurthy of "Juicy" in an essay that accompanies the poll.