Notorious [Original Soundtrack]

The soundtrack to the Notorious B.I.G. biopic Notorious is a welcome surprise. Selections from the past (a bunch of old hits plus some wonderfully raw demos) and the present (Jay-Z's infectious collabo with Santogold) along with a hint of the legacy's future (an appearance from Biggie's son, Christopher "CJ" Wallace, Jr.) are sequenced in a way that avoids any of the bombast or misguided majesty of Born Again or Duets, the other posthumous releases from the Bad Boy label. Best example, the album's strength can be found in the Biggie Jr. and Faith Evans track where departed father, widow, and son collaborate thanks to studio trickery. This "Legacy Remix" plays it casual, effortlessly mixing melancholy, nostalgia, and pride for something pleasingly smaller than Diddy's "I'll Be Missing You," which is notably absent. The Jadakiss track is heartfelt while Danny Elfman's short theme music winds up a wonderful noir dream, transporting listeners back in time and to a golden age Brooklyn. It's an ideal set up for the raw demos that follow, all of which sound better than any previous bootleg. Closing with a track called "Love No Ho" may see counterintuitive for an album honoring a late, great cultural icon, but for a man who truly lived the thug life and told its stories like few others could, it's a perfectly Biggie move. Don't think of it as the ultimate set or the best possible introduction, but the Notorious soundtrack is the closest the Bad Boy label has come to capturing the man's true spirit. ~ David Jeffries

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