#SkinnyBlackJams: Bad Boy’s Underappreciated Gems

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My attachment to the Shiny Suit era runs deep. Obviously, the music jammed. Then there was my massive crush on Ma$e (had 20 posters of him in my bedroom–one poster for each of his 20 years of age in 1997). Beyond the soundtrack to junior high school dances and swoon material for my burgeoning hormones, Bad Boy represented something bigger. My consumption of their constant media coverage was a gateway drug, pulling me deeper into hip-hop culture. The first Source magazine I ever copped? Included a Ma$e feature (and a JAY Z cover but that fandom would come later). 1997-98 marked the beginning of my obsession with hip-hop; its music and its stories.

Thanks to the heavily publicized reunion tour, I’ve spent this week deep in the Bad Boy catalog, crafting my quintessential Bad Boy playlist. It’s a beauty–102 songs, starting with “Flava in Ya Ear Remix” and ending with Day 26’s “Exclusive.” Naturally, classics like “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems”, “Can’t You See”, and “Special Delivery” are included, but I’ve found myself spending more time with B-sides and deep album cuts. Here are a few of my favorites:

Total’s “No One Else Remix” featuring Foxy Brown, Lil’ Kim, and Da Brat
Our only example of what Kim and Foxy’s “Thelma & Louise” could have been. The video was pretty dope, too.

The Lox as Storytellers
Money, Power & Respect was swept under the rug once L.O.X. became known for punchline-filled Ruff Ryders’ bangers. Bad Boy’s “prettier” production put the trio’s lyrical versatility at the forefront. Tracks like “The Heist” and “Bitches from Eastwick” showcase the kind of detailed storytelling that would have made BIG proud.

112 / Faith Evans Collaborations
We got a hint of this chemistry on “I”ll Be Missing You.” Faith appeared on 112’s first two albums, giving us forlorn love songs like “I Can’t Believe” and “For Awhile.”

Murder Ma$e
Mason Betha made his money with shiny suits and dimples, but his debut album is peppered with subtle reminders that he was more than a pretty boy. For instance, “Take What’s Yours,” which features DMX and some* of my favorite Ma$e bars:

You let your gun loose, none o’ ’em niggas gun proof
Watch them niggas drop, when I pop one in they sunroof
And we be lead bustin’, leavin’ niggas head gushin’
You niggas talkin’ ’bout guns like you said something
I’ll be lacin’ ’em, hollow tips, I be wastin’ ’em
That’s what you f*****ts get, tryin’ to fuck with Mase and ’em

[*] My favorite Ma$e bars ever appear on DMX’s “Niggaz Done Started Somethin.”

8Ball & MJG’s Living Legends
I was hours into this project before I remembered Living Legends was a Bad Boy South release. In addition to one of the greatest hooks of all time (“Bust a nigga head / Smack a hoe / Shoot the club up“), this album gave us “Look at the Grillz“, “Don’t Make“, and “Forever.”

New Edition’s “Hot Tonight”
Not a B-side or a deep album cut, but the last major release from these R&B Kings. Still sounds pretty good.

Don’t let me reminisce alone. What are your favorite underappreciated Bad Boy jams?

Follow #skinnyblackjams: Baaaaad Boy. Come Out & Plaaaaay on Spotify

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