A First Person View of Struggle

Biggie Smalls album “Ready to Die” was groundbreaking when it was released in 1994 due to the subject of the stories being told in it. This does not mean subject as in topic, but as in the person that it focuses on. Most rap before Biggie focused very much on being an objective view of the conditions the rapper found themselves in, like a journalistic account, whereas Biggie made his own life the focus of the album, teaching the audience what it was like to grow up in these struggling neighborhoods through his own real experiences. “Everyday Struggle” is one of the most depressing and brutal songs that Biggie has ever made, achieving a dismal feeling using the harsh reality that Biggie experienced every day. He describes selling drugs not as glamorous as some rappers have but instead as a daily grind not unlike any other, just with an added fear of losing your life every day you continue,

I know how it feels to wake up fucked up

pockets broke as hell, another rock to sell

This shows how desensitized the people forced to live through these experiences of a new trama everyday become, as he refers to crack cocaine as just “another rock to sell”.

Later in the song, we progress along Biggie’s life track to him being higher up in criminal life, but still just as miserable. He describes how another dealer recently got killed in a gun deal,

Heard TEC got murdered in a town I never heard of

By some *** named Alberta over nickel-plated burners

This along with a description of Biggie using a girl as a drug mule who then gets caught caps off the second verse by emphasizing that although he has gained upward mobility within it, he is still living this life surrounded by death and destruction of everyone he knows, and makes him realize that no matter how high he goes within it, he will always be in the “Everyday Struggle”.

As the song progresses into the third verse we see how Biggie again moves forward in his life and gains new troubles along the way, this time it being how to explain the life he lives to his daughter.

Dealin’ with the dope fiend binges, seein’ syringes

In the veins, hard to explain how I maintain

This shows how having a daughter is making him see how his life not only affects her but also how it has affected him his whole life, with these last few lines capping off this story of the struggle Biggie has experienced. This song and the whole of the “Ready to Die” album was incredibly influential in the new wave of storytelling in rap, with its affects still being seen today as the influence for many rappers. This new style of first person storytelling in rap was especially revolutionary in how it was able to draw in those entirely removed from the circumstances described in the music. The viewpoint allowed anyone, privileged or not, to get view into what that life was like. This view into a world entirely different from your own is one of the factors that allowed Biggie Smalls to achieve such widespread popularity, and reach audiences that would previously been unreachable with past styles.

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