Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March 9: Notorious B.I.G., "One More Chance/Stay With Me"

Artist: The Notorious B.I.G.
Song: "One More Chance/Stay With Me"
Album: One More Chance (single)
Year: 1995

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There are few art forms where the age old saying of, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies more than that of music, and in an overwhelming majority of cases, when a song is "remade" or "remixed," it simply never lives up to the overall quality of the original. This is especially true within the hip-hop genre, as countless wannabe DJ's and producers take a shot at trying to make a good song better, and in most cases, it is little more than an unknown DJ attempting to gain some notoriety via someone elses' success. Even when the artist themselves create an alternate version of the song, it often lacks the intangible element that made the original so great, and it serves as a testament to how difficult it is to make a great song. However, as is the case with any sweeping generalization, there are a handful of exceptions, and one would be hard pressed to find a more perfectly produced and unique remix than The Notorious B.I.G.'s "official" remix of his song, "One More Chance." The original comes from his stellar debut record, Ready To Die, and the remix was released in a number of places in the following years, retitled, "One More Chance/Stay With Me." While there are nearly half a dozen remixes of this remix, it is the "official" remix which stands as not only the finest of the bunch, but without question one of the finest moments of the brilliant catalog of The Notorious B.I.G.

One of the keys to nearly all of the hits from The Notorious B.I.G. was the amazing musical backing over which he rapped. Though it certainly had the hard hitting bass that was quickly becoming a trend, in many ways, the songs had a far more musical backing than those of the West Coast sound. This is likely due to the production work of Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, and throughout all of the music on Bad Boy Records, one can easily hear his influence from his days at Motown Records. Musically, the remixes sound absolutely nothing like the original song (only titled "One More Chance") and the remixes have a far more soulful and smooth feel, making it almost unrecognizable when compared to the original. The core of the remix centers around an amazing musical hook that was pulled from DeBarge's 1983 single, "Stay With Me," and this is from where the title for the remix is derived. There is also a sample from Marley Marl's "Droppin' Science" at play on the track, and the combination creates one of the most irresistible, head-bobbing tracks ever put together. This amazing music was also the reason that the remixed single found a large following, especially within the club circuit, and it is also one of the main aspects that keeps the song fresh nearly two decades after it was first released.

Though the music on "One More Chance/Stay With Me" is truly in a class all its own, similarly, there had never been another emcee quite like The Notorious B.I.G. Bringing his trademark smooth, put powerful, and almost joking style to the track, this is about as close to a "love song" as one will find anywhere within his catalog. Much like the rest of his catalog, on this track, Biggie's delivery is very relaxed, and the verses flow smoothly from him, yet they never cease to be less powerful, and as always, he demands the listeners' complete attention. Over and over, The Notorious B.I.G. proved that, regardless of the subject matter, his rhymes were second to none, and the way in which he flips his rhymes has been emulated since he first appeared on the scene. Without question, while this song is completely "for the ladies," Biggie never loses sight of reality, as he drops lines like, "...heart-throb never, black and ugly as ever..." It is largely due to this confidence that The Notorious B.I.G. was able to rule the hip-hop scene, as even though he certainly did not have the visual appeal of a majority of his peers, he was far above the rest when it came to rhyming skills. The final lyric of the song remains today one of the most iconic lines in hip-hop history, as Biggie sums it all up in one line when he says, "...lyrically I'm supposed to represent, I'm not only a client, I'm the playa President."

Claiming a single track is the "best" of The Notorious B.I.G. is a rather daunting task, as it is almost impossible to find a "bad" track anywhere within his recorded catalog. Unquestionably one of the most prolific emcees in history, everything from his rhyming style to his voice remain unmatched, and his singles hit just as hard as they did when they were first released. The fact that songs like "Big Poppa" and "Hypnotize" can still get a room jumping serve as a testament to the true perfection behind his songs, and yet it is within another track that his overall style is perfectly personified. With a smooth, soulful backing vocal provided by Faith Evans and Mary J. Blige, the voice of The Notorious B.I.G. presents a stunning contrast, and this difference in sound and style is one of the keys to the brilliance behind "One More Chance/Stay With Me." With these fantastic vocals sliding over one of the most beautiful and harmonious musical backing tracks ever put together, the song is nothing short of perfect and sounds just as good today as it did back in 1995. Though it bears very little resemblance to the original version of the song, the mood is similar, and yet there is no question that this remix can easily stand on its own. Though he left many classic songs behind, one cannot discuss the career of The Notorious B.I.G. without exploring what is easily one of his most unique and amazing tracks, the remix, "One More Chance/Stay With Me."

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