Song of the Week: “Things Done Changed” by The Notorious B.I.G.
I feel like I could write a book about this song and the album it introduces, so I’ll try to focus just on the production. It’s built around a couple samples (including cinematic harps from The Main Ingredients), but it’s the Dr. Dre sample that I find most interesting, from a song on The Chronic, which popularized gangsta rap. Dre’s lyrics, of course, are pure muscle-flexing, posturing—whereas Biggie builds a deep tension in Ready To Die between a series of personas, coming to rest on suicidal paranoia. So the “things” of the title seem to me to address the emerging musical tradition as well as life in early-’90s Brooklyn ghettoes: the glamour and self-assurance that Dr. Dre brought to his depiction of organized crime can’t sustain artistry the way Biggie’s Brooklyn, where parents are even afraid of their children, does. Biggie lets in fear, and it pervades the song.
-Allen Edwin Butt
Allen Edwin Butt lives and studies in South Carolina. His writing has appeared in print and web publications like Peaches & Bats, Otoliths, Galatea Resurrects, ditch, 2River View, DIGAGRAM, and Poetry. Along with Andrew Durbin and Kit Schluter, he edits O’clock Press and its magazine CLOCK.
Questions, compliments, (hopefully not) complaints? Contact Jackie Clark: jackie [at] coldfrontmag [dot] com.
see all songs of the week here.