Study Guide

Juicy Introduction

Juicy Introduction

In a Nutshell

"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 a 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. 

So, what's 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.
Year1994
LabelBad Boy/Arista
Writer(s)Christopher Wallace (Biggie Smalls)
Producer(s)Jean "Poke" Oliver (Poke), Sean "Puffy" Combs, Pete Rock
Musician(s)Biggie Smalls (vocals)
AlbumReady to Die

Music Video

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Influences on Notorious B.I.G.

Kool G Rap
Grandmaster Flash
Big Daddy Kane
Rakim
Heavy D
Rap Attack

Influenced by Notorious B.I.G.

50 Cent
Ja Rule
Lil' Wayne
Jay-Z
Fat Joe
Eminem
Lil' Kim

Juicy Resources

Books

Mickey Hess, Is Hip-Hop Dead? The Past, Present and Future of America's Most Wanted Music (2007)
A pretty academic exploration that addresses the questions Biggie's career tends to raise, like authenticity and the rap persona, the corporatization of hip-hop, and the role of violence in the hip-hop world.

Touré, Never Drank the Kool-Aid: Essays (2006)
This Village Voice and New York Times hip-hop writer covered both Biggie and Tupac, and wrote some compelling essays about violence in hip-hop and the meaning of gangsta rap.

Voletta Wallace, Biggie: Voletta Wallace Remembers Her Son, Biggie (2005)
Wallace's memoir is a glossy take on Biggie's life. The mother's perspective can be tender, but leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

Albums

Ready to Die (1994)
Biggie's debut album made a huge splash in the rap world.

Life After Death (1997)
The notorious double album was one of the biggest things to hit hip-hop in the 1990s, bringing us songs like "Mo' Money Mo' Problems" and "Hypnotize." Biggie also managed to not disappoint hardcore fans, as sophomore albums so often do, creating what many consider one of the greatest rap albums ever.

Greatest Hits (2007)
This album debuted at #1, but by 2007, a lot of people were pissed at Sean "Puffy" Combs for milking so much profit out of his friend's death. Serious fans might want to stick with the two albums Biggie put out while he was actually alive.

Images

Ready to Die Cover (1994)
The baby on the cover, a model hired for the job, turned 18 and graduated from high school in 2011.

Biggie, King of New York
Biggie's alter-ego, Frank White, was the protagonist in the 1990 crime film King of New York.

Biggie and Tupac with Redman (a Mutual Friend)
Before the explosion of a manufactured rivalry between the two, Biggie and Tupac were friends. Biggie's associates continue to express respect and love for 'Pac in interviews.

Movies & TV

Notorious (2009)
This biopic was something of a disappointment, but is that really any surprise? After all, who could possibly make themselves into Biggie, Tupac, and the rest of their talented associates? It might be fun for casual kicks, but don't look to it as a historical source.

Notorious B.I.G.: Bigger Than Life (2007)
This is a great biographical documentary that includes interviews from Biggie's childhood friends and fellow rappers including Method Man, Diddy, Easy Mo Bee, Common, and Raekwon. The focus is more on Biggie's music and style than a linear biography, but it will be enjoyable for anyone interested in his career.

Biggie and Tupac (2002)
This relatively terrible documentary tries to provide a deeper exploration of the unsolved killings of both rappers, suggesting that the blame for the murders is on police and record execs. Worthy though the cause might be, the film is disappointingly voyeuristic and sensational.

Websites

Anderson Cooper, "Cold Case: Mystery Still Surrounds Rappers' Deaths," CNN (2011)
This update on the re-opened investigation into Biggie's murder is another set of strange dead-ends.

Jody Rosen, "How Biggie Changed Hip Hop," Slate (2009)
This short article is also the best article we've read about Biggie Smalls, appreciating his legacy with humor and realism.

Video & Audio

"Juicy" Music Video (1994)
Voletta Wallace played herself in the original video, lending even more weight to the song's purported "realness."

"Hypnotized" Music Video (1997)
This is a favorite Biggie video for many, showing Biggie at the height of his fame and fortune and supposedly responsible for starting the shiny suit trend among rappers. (Though, as Biggie suggested, mo' money might have meant mo' problems.)

"Going Back to Cali" (1997)
This track was supposedly a part of fanning the flames of the East Coast/West Coast rivalry, lthough for the most part, it's just about taking a drug and sex-filled trip to Los Angeles. 

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