On March 9, 1997, the hip-hop world was rocked by the news that The Notorious B.I.G. had been gunned down in Los Angeles after attending an after party hosted by Vibe magazine and Qwest Records at the Petersen Automotive Museum.

Biggie's death, which came less than half a year after the murder of Tupac Shakur, would be the last domino to fall in the war between the east and west coasts, and would put a dark cloud over hip-hop, leaving the culture in a state of uncertainty.

While the loss of one of rap's biggest stars would take time to overcome, the release of The Notorious B.I.G.'s sophomore effort, Life After Death, on March 25, 1997, just weeks after his death, would help shift the narrative from tragedy to triumph, as the album was a display of the King of New York's innate wit and lyrical brilliance.

Ready to Die, The Notorious B.I.G.'s debut album, was the product of an artist thriving off pure talent while finding his footing, whereas Life After Death marked the arrival of a master craftsman coming into his own and pushing the limits of his artistry. Running 24 tracks long, Life After Death runs the gamut from storytelling to straight-forward lyrical exploits and everything in between, making it one of the more complete rap albums of all-time and a testament to The Notorious B.I.G.'s excellence.

In celebration of the anniversary of this masterpiece, The Boombox dug deep into Life After Death and picked out 25 of the most iconic lyrics from an album that has proven to be timeless.

  • 1

    "Somebody's Gotta Die"

    The Notorious B.I.G.

    "'Cause I'm a criminal way before the rap shit/Bust the gat shit; Puff won't even know what happened/If it's done smoothly, silencers on the Uzi/Stash in the hooptie, my alibi: any cutie/With a booty that done fuck Big Pop/Head spinnin', reminiscin' 'bout my man C-Rock" —The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 2

    "Hypnotize"

    The Notorious B.I.G.

    "Hah, sicker than your average/Poppa twist cabbage off instinct/Niggas don't think shit stink/Pink gators, my Detroit players/Timbs for my hooligans in Brooklyn/Dead right, if the head right, Biggie there e'ry night/Poppa been smooth since days of Underoos" —The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 3

    "Hypnotize"

    The Notorious B.I.G.

    "I put hoes in NY onto DKNY/Miami, D.C. prefer Versace/All Philly hoes go with Moschino/Every cutie with a booty bought a Coogi" —The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 4

    "Kick in the Door"

    The Notorious B.I.G.

    "Your reign on the top was short like leprechauns/As I crush so-called willies, thugs, and rapper-dons/Get in that ass, quick fast, like Ramadan/It's that rap phenomenon Don Dada, fuck Poppa/You got to call me Francis M.H. White/Intake light tokes, tote iron/Was told in shootouts, stay low and keep firin'" —The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 5

    "Fuck You Tonight

    The Notorious B.I.G. featuring R. Kelly

    "Some say the X, make the sex Spec-tacular/Make me lick you from yo' neck to your back, then ya/Shivering, tongue delivering/Chills up that spine, that ass is mine/Skip the wine and the candlelight, no Cristal tonight/If it's all right with you, we fuckin' (that's cool)" — The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 6

    "I Love The Dough"

    The Notorious B.I.G. featuring JAY-Z

    "Blind your broke asses, even got rocks in the beards and moustaches/Rock top fashions/Ain't shit changed, except the number after the dot on the Range/Way niggas look at me now, kinda strange, I hate y'all too/Rather be in Carribean sands with Rachel/It's unreal, out the blue Frank White got sex appeal/Bitches used to go, 'Ewww!'" — The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 7

    "What's Beef"

    The Notorious B.I.G.

    "Don't they know my nigga Gutter fuckin' kidnap kids/Fuck 'em in the ass, throw 'em over the bridge/That's how it is, my shit is laid out/Fuck that "beef" shit, that shit is played out" —The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 8

    "What's Beef"

    The Notorious B.I.G.

    "What's beef? Beef is when you need 2 Gats to go to sleep/Beef is when your moms ain't safe up in the streets/Beef is when I see you/Guaranteed to be in ICU, one more time/What's beef? Beef is when you make your enemies start your Jeep/Beef is when you roll no less than 30 deep/Beef is when I see you/Guaranteed to be in ICU" — The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 9

    "Mo' Money Mo' Problems"

    The Notorious B.I.G. featuring Ma$e & Puff Daddy

    "Now, who's hot, who not?/Tell me who rock, who sell out in the stores?/You tell me who flopped, who copped the blue drop?/Whose jewels got rocks?/Who's mostly Dolce down to the tube sock?/The same old pimp, Mase/You know ain't nothing change but my limp/Can't stop till I see my name on a blimp/Guarantee a million sales, call it level up" —Ma$e

  • 10

    "Mo' Money Mo' Problems"

    The Notorious B.I.G. featuring Ma$e & Puff Daddy

    "B-I-G P-O-P-P-A/No info for the DEA/Federal agents mad ‘cause I'm flagrant/Tap my cell and the phone in the basement" —The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 11

    "Niggas Bleed"

    The Notorious B.I.G.

    "Today's agenda, got the suitcase up in the Sentra/Go to room 112, tell them Blanco sent ya/Feel the strangest, if no money exchanges/I got these kids in Ranges, to leave them niggas brainless" —The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 12

    "Niggas Bleed"

    The Notorious B.I.G.

    "That's when Ron vanished, came back, speaking Spanish/Lavish habits, two rings, twenty carats/He's a criminal, nigga made America's Most/Killed his baby mother brother, slit his throat/The nigga got bagged with the toast/Weeded, took it to trial, beat it/Now he feel he undefeated, he mean it/Nothing to lose, tattooed around his gun wounds/Everything to gain, embedded in his brain" —The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 13

    "I Got a Story to Tell"

    The Notorious B.I.G.

    "The shit she kicked, all the shit's legit/She get dick from a player off the New York Knicks/Nigga tricked ridiculous, the shit was plush/She's stressin me to fuck, like she was in a rush/We fucked in his bed, quite dangerous/I'm in his ass while he playin' 'gainst the Utah Jazz/My 112, CD blast, I was past/She came twice I came last, roll the grass" —The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 14

    "Notorious Thugs"

    The Notorious B.I.G. featuring Bone Thugs-n-Harmony

    "Spit your game, talk your shit/Grab your gat, call your clique/Squeeze your clip, hit the right one/Pass that weed, I got to light one/All them niggas, I got to fight one/All them hoes, I got to like one/Our situation is a tight one/What you gonna do: fight or run?" —The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 15

    "Going Back to Cali"

    The Notorious B.I.G.

    "If I got to choose a coast I got to choose the East/I live out there, so don't go there/But that don't mean a nigga can't rest in the West/See some nice breast in the West/Smoke some nice sess in the West, y'all niggas is a mess/Thinking I'm gon stop, giving LA props/All I got is beef with those that violate me/I shall annihilate thee" —The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 16

    "Ten Crack Commandments"

    The Notorious B.I.G.

    "I've been in this game for years, it made me a animal/There's rules to this shit, I wrote me a manual/A step-by-step booklet for you to get/Your game on track, not your wig pushed back" —The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 17

    "Ten Crack Commandments"

    The Notorious B.I.G.

    "Number 6: that goddamn credit? Dead it/You think a crackhead paying you back, shit forget it!/7: this rule is so underrated/Keep your family and business completely separated/Money and blood don't mix like two dicks and no bitch/Find yourself in serious shit/Number 8: never keep no weight on you!/Them cats that squeeze your guns can hold jums too" — The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 18

    "Ten Crack Commandments"

    The Notorious B.I.G."

    "Follow these rules you'll have mad bread to break up/If not, 24 years on the wake up/Slug hit your temple, watch your frame shake up/Caretaker did your makeup, when you passed/Your girl fucked my man Jake up/Heard in three weeks she sniffed a whole half of cake up/Heard she suck a good dick, and can hook a steak up/Gotta go gotta go, more pies to bake up, word up" —The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 19

    "Nasty Boy"

    The Notorious B.I.G. featuring Kelly Price

    "I go on and on and on and/Don't take them to the crib unless they bonin'/Easy, call em on the phone and/Platinum Chanel cologne and/I stay dressed to impress/Spark these bitches interest" —The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 20

    "Sky's The Limit"

    The Notorious B.I.G. featuring 112

    "A nigga never been as broke as me, I like that/When I was young I had two pair of Lees/The pin stripes and the gray, the one I wore on Mondays and Wednesdays/While niggas flirt I'm sewing tigers on my shirts, and alligators/You want to see the inside, I see you later/Here comes the drama, oh/That's that nigga with the fake, blaow/Why you punch me in my face? Stay in your place" —The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 21

    "Sky's The Limit"

    The Notorious B.I.G. featuring 112

    "To protect my position, my corner, my lair/While we out here, say the Hustlers Prayer/If the game shakes me or breaks me, I hope it makes me a better man, take a better stand/Put money in my mom's hand/Get my daughter this college grant so she don't need no man/Stay far from timid, only make moves when your heart's in it/And live the phrase "Sky's the limit" —The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 22

    "The World Is Filled..."

    The Notorious B.I.G. featuring Too $hort & Puff Daddy

    "When the Remy's in the system, ain't no telling/Will I fuck him? Will I diss him?" That's what these hoes yelling/I'm a pimp by blood, not relation/Y'all still chase 'em, I'll replace 'em" —The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 23

    "My Downfall"

    The Notorious B.I.G. featuring D.M.C.

    Lazy eye, I was high when they hit me/Took a few cats with me/Shit, I need the company/Apologies in order, to T'Yanna my daughter/If it was up to me you would be with me/Sorta like Daddy Dearest, my vision be the clearest/Silencers so you can't hear it/Competition still fear it, shit don't ask me/I went from ashy to nasty to classy, and still" —The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 24

    "Long Kiss Goodnight"

    The Notorious B.I.G.

    "I make yo' mouthpiece obese like Della Reese/When I release, you lose teeth like Lil' Cease/Nigga please, blood floods your dungarees/And that's just the half of my warpath/Laugh now cry later, I rhyme greater/Than the average playa hater, and spectators/Buy my CD twice; they see me in the streets/They be like, "Yo he nice, but that's on the low though" — The Notorious B.I.G.

  • 25

    "You're Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)"

    The Notorious B.I.G.

    "Silly cat, wore suede in the rain/Swear he put the G in game, had the Gucci frame/Before Dana Dane, thought he ran with Kane/I can't recall his name, you mean that kid/That nearly lost half his brain over two bricks of cocaine?/Getting his dick sucked by Crackhead Lorraine?"/A fucking shame, dude's the lame, what's his name?/Dark-skin Jermaine, see what I mean?" — The Notorious B.I.G.