Biggie Smalls Influence: Formula & Posse Syndrome

Picture source: Lowrider Art

Biggie Smalls Influence: Formula & Posse Syndrome


As with the launch of the movie ‘Notorious’, a tale of Notorious B.I.G.’s life and times, let us take time to reflect on not only his great talent, but on the impact that he had on the game.

A rundown of his accomplishments:
Ready to Die
Released 1994
RIAA citified 4x Platinum

Life After Death
Released 1997
RIAA certified Diamond (10x Platinum)

Born Again
Released 1999
RIAA certified 2x Platinum

Duets: The Final Chapter
Released 2005
RIAA certified Platinum

Greatest Hits
Released 2007
RIAA certified Gold

No wonder Bad Boy is still eating, you got to really take a look at what Life After Death did, because it was dropped as a double disc (so it was priced higher than a single CD), and it sold 10 million worldwide. In terms of the influence, Ready to Die and Life After Death both changed the direction of Hip-Hop by mastering the art of creating a ‘crossover’ hit (mixing hardcore lyrics with an R&B singer on the chorus), and it laid the groundwork of how to maintain ‘keeping it real’. Before an album was released, Biggie was wise to work the mixtape DJ market – that would involve leaking tracks to DJ’s with national distribution, and giving certain DJ’s exclusive freestyles. All of this was for the goal that when the album dropped, those in the underground would be attracted to Biggie’s lyrical ability, and the general market would be taken in by the crossover appeal. This formula has since been copied exponentially by the likes of Jay-Z, Nas, 50 Cent, Eminem, and the like.

Bring the Posse Syndrome

Another pervasive influence that Biggie had on the hip-hop genre was the ‘bring the posse syndrome’, that is, once you get successful, create a label, and have your friends release albums and songs under your new label. Biggie only had a chance to try this out with now defunct group Junior M.A.F.I.A., that had a successful album (going Gold) and spawned the careers of Lil’ Cease and the infamous Lil’ Kim. Biggie had an understanding of how the music industry game worked; similar to the Pimp trade or a Pyramid scheme – the higher you are at the top, the more you can make off of others. Well, in the music game, it works that if you can sign them to your label, you can get a piece of their recording and publishing deals. Current circa, every rapper that is somewhat successful has copied this blueprint, from:

Dr. Dre
> Eminem
>> D- 12
>> 50 Cent
>>> G-Unit
>>> Llyod Banks, Young Buck, Tony Yayo

> St. Lunatics
> Murphy Lee

> Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel, Freeway
> Kanye West
>>Jon Legend

** Every Bold name has a label **

As you can see, some of these worked out very well in the cases of Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, Eminem, and 50 Cent, and not so well as with the case of Nelly, Snoop, and others.

Trying to figure out a witty way to end this piece, but I will just end it by saying the demise of Biggie and Tupac taught us what REAL beef is, and what can happen – and I don’t think that none of these Internet Gangsters want to see that. Biggie will always be remembered, and his influence lives on in the current generation of hip-hop and beyond.

.:: LiBM ::.

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