The Notorious B.I.G.'s sophomore "Life After Death" LP received a rare 5 mics review in The Source; and don't get me wrong, it's an absolutely incredible album that indeed has a 5 mic album hiding in there somewhere. Had filler cuts like "Fuckin' You Tonight", "Mo Money' Mo Problems", "Another", "Nasty Boy", "Playa Hater", and peharps one or two more joints been scrapped, "Life After Death" had in my humble opnion been worthy of that most extreme rating. Played like a single disc album makes all the difference in the world, making it in many ways even equally as great as "Ready to Die". Both beats and deliery are more polished, while still leaving room for a large part of the album to be dark and unforgiving (much thanks to contributions from Carloas Broady & Nashiem Myrick, RZA, DJ Enuff, Havoc and DJ Premier) and BIG had foud an ever deeper confidence on the microphone.
Like with so many LP:s what was originally recorded by the artists and producer are not always what end up on the retail album, and such is the case we're gonna be discussing today. D.I.T.C. producer Buckwild excellent contribution "I Got A Story To Tell" - an emcee class in storytelling 101. Looking at the album credits it read that Buckwild's production features co-production by Hitmen Chucky Thompson and Puff Daddy. But what exactly earned them that credit? Check Buckwild and Thompson themeselves break down the specifics in XXL:s The Making of "Life After Death".
Buck is almost correct on this, the two versions are extraordinary similiar but I believe that a fully mastered version of the sample-based mix would have the slight edge. I'm not sure where Buck sampled the harp- and guitar based centre from, but the drums was lifted from Al Green's "I'm Glad You're Mine". The latter drum break has been used for several hip-hop classics, including Eric B. & Ra's "Mahogany". So I would guess that they kept that drum break for the BIG album version too and that the sample problem was with the main melody as Chucky Thompson tells it:
The album version of "I Got A Story to Tell" is no doubt a classic, and while the original Buckwild mix was thought lost forever it actually surfaced on the 2007 mixtape monster "Cristopher Wallace - The Last King Of New York" by Doo Wop and Mike Nice. The latter's set included, amongst tons of other interesting rarities, demos, remixes and original versions, the so called "Buckwild OG Demo Mix" of "I Got A Story to Tell". While the sound quality might not win any sonic awards it does give us a terrific insight into the creation of the song. If you imagine it mastered and in CD quality - which version would you prefer (the video above is of the album version for reference)? I wil probably do a post on the entire Doo Wop/Mike Nice tape soon enough so be on the lookout, but what's funny is that the OG Buckwild Demo you hear below is actually from another source that sound a lot cleaner than the one on the mixtape! Feel free to drop a comment on your thoughts about your thought about these two versions of "I Got A Story to Tell"!
BIG - "STORY TO TELL" [BUCK'S OG DEMO]