On this day in music history: March 25, 1997 – “Life After Death”, the second album by The Notorious B.I.G. is released. Produced by Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie, Carlos “6 July” Broady, Buckwild, Clark Kent, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Stevie J, DJ Enuff, DJ Premier, Easy Mo Bee, Havoc, Jiv Poss, Daron Jones, Ron “Amen-Ra” Lawrence, Kay Gee, Nashiem Myrick, Notorious B.I.G., Paragon, Chucky Thompson and RZA, it is recorded at Daddy’s House, D&D Studios, The Hit Factory in New York City, Caribbean Sound Basin in Maraval, Trinidad, W.I., and NRG Studios in North Hollywood, CA from September 1995 – January 1997. Following the success of his debut “Ready To Die”, The Notorious B.I.G. (aka “Biggie Smalls”) goes through a number of life changes in the wake of his new found fame. He marries label mate Faith Evans, whose relationship turns rocky shortly after. Biggie is also drawn into a feud with Tupac Shakur, who believes that Biggie and Sean “Puffy” Combs were involved in a robbery attempt at Quad Recording Studios, where Tupac is shot. The beef escalates when Shakur aligns himself with Suge Knight of Death Row Records, touching off the infamous “East Coast – West Coast Rap War”. During this upheaval, Biggie is working on his second album. Realizing he can’t revisit the same subject matter he’s written about before, his sophomore effort reflects on his growing maturity as an artist and as a man. B.I.G. works with numerous producers including “The Hitmen”, DJ Premier, Kay Gee and RZA. It also features guest appearances from Jay-Z, Angela Winbush, R. Kelly, Bone Thugs ‘N’ Harmony, Too Short, Li’l Kim, Mase, 112, and The Lox. Recorded over eighteen months, the twenty-four track double album is finally completed. To promote its release Biggie and Puffy travel to the west coast for press and radio interviews. Tragedy strikes on March 9, 1997 when the rapper is killed in a drive-by shooting outside the Peterson Auto Museum in Los Angeles, following a party thrown by Vibe Magazine. Set for release before the incident, the album arrives in stores just two weeks after Biggie’s murder, making the album’s already dark title even more prophetically ironic. It is an immediate smash, drawing both critical praise and commercial success. It spins off three singles including “Hypnotize” (#1 Pop, #1 R&B, #1 Rap) and “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” (#1 Pop, #2 R&B, #1 Rap), making him the first artist in history to have two posthumous number one pop singles. The album is also released as a limited triple vinyl LP set which quickly goes out of print and becomes a high priced collectible. It is reissued on LP in 2003 and 2014, the latter on both standard black vinyl and as a numbered limited edition set pressed on clear vinyl (US) and white vinyl (UK & Europe). “Life After Death” spends four weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200 and R&B album charts, and is certified 10x Platinum by the RIAA, earning a Diamond Certification.
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