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Intro

"Juicy" is a song about being rich.

Wait, no, that can't be right, because "Juicy" is actually a song about being poor.

Well…kind of. On the surface, Biggie Smalls' beloved track about his rise through the rap ranks seems like a (now-classic) blend of a rags-to-riches story with mild case of rapper's boasting. But strangely, it's not a very happy song: most of it is about Biggie's former life, a life of poverty that he clearly doesn't feel very far away from. What is going on in "Juicy"? Is the Notorious B.I.G. telling a serious rags-to-riches story here, or is it all a dream?

About the Song

ArtistNotorious B.I.G. Musician(s)Biggie Smalls (vocals)
AlbumReady to Die
Year1994
LabelBad Boy/Arista
Writer(s)Christopher Wallace (Biggie Smalls)
Producer(s)Jean "Poke" Oliver (Poke), Sean "Puffy" Combs, Pete Rock
Buy this song: Amazon iTunes Try Listen and Learn (BETA)

Shmoop Connections

Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
A whole lot happened in the years leading up to the brief hey-day of the Notorious B.I.G. Born in 1971, Christopher Wallace was raised by a single mom. He came of age in Brooklyn in the Reagan Era, and by his early teens he was dealing drugs to make money and facing what he thought was a pretty bleak future.

Hip-hop, on the other hand, spent the Reagan Era making an incredible transition from a hard-core underground cultural movement to a mainstream form with growing marketability and exploding audiences. When Biggie came on the scene in the early 1990s, it was in some ways hip-hop's moment of truth: would the movement stay close to its roots in poor black communities, or become just another corporate interest? As it turned out, truth, realness, and representation were far more complicated than anyone expected. Nowhere is this complexity more glaring than in the story of Biggie Smalls.

On the Charts

"Juicy," Biggie's debut solo single, peaked at #27 on the Billboard Hot 100, #14 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles, and #3 on the Hot Rap Singles charts.

Rolling Stone's 2010 re-issue of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list included "Juicy" at #424. Who got dropped to make space for Biggie? Well, for one, R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" got the boot. Poetic justice?

Ready to Die won the Source Magazine award for Album of the Year in 1995, and Notorious B.I.G. was generously rewarded by Source as the best New Artist of the Year, Lyricist of the Year, and Live Performer of the Year.
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