Biggie’s ‘Ready To Die’ And Doug E. Fresh And Slick Rick’s ‘La-Di-Da-Di’ Enter The National Recording Registry

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On Tuesday, Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, revealed the addition of 25 recordings to the National Recording Registry. In this year’s selection, hip-hop culture is celebrated with the inclusion of The Notorious B.I.G.’s culturally defining 1994 debut album Ready to Die and the iconic 1985 single “La-Di-Da-Di” by Doug E. Fresh and MC Ricky D.

Ready to Die and “La-Di-Da-Di” are joining the 2024 National Recording Registry class alongside ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine,” Blondie’s “Parallel Lines,” and other recordings.

In a statement, Hayden commended the 25 new titles for their significance in music history, describing them as valuable recordings recognized by the American public.

“The Library of Congress is proud to preserve the sounds of American history and our diverse culture through the National Recording Registry,” said Hayden. “We have selected audio treasures worthy of preservation with our partners this year, including a wide range of music from the past 100 years, as well as comedy. We were thrilled to receive a record number of public nominations and we welcome the public’s input on what we should preserve next.”

One of the most frequently sampled hip-hop tracks, “La-Di-Da-Di,” which not only boosted hip-hop’s global appeal, but also served as a platform for showcasing innovative aspects of the then budding genre. The song was pioneering in its inclusion of beatboxing, which was skillfully performed by Doug E. Fresh, an MC and dancer known for his ability to use his mouth, lips, throat, and tongue as more than just a vehicle for lyrics. Flawlessly imitating the drum machine, Fresh used his voice as the instrumental while MC Ricky D, now known as Slick Rick, took to the mic and showcased a revolutionary form of storytelling that shook up the stance of emcees in the 1980s.

Snoop Dogg’s release of his version of the classic single “Lodi Dodi” on his 1993 debut album, Doggystyle, helped change the reluctance that rappers in the ’80s and ’90s had about covering another rapper’s song. According to the Library of Congress, “La-Di-Da-Di” has been referenced in more than 1,000 songs and recordings.

Ready to Die is home to some of Biggie Smalls’ most celebrated singles, including “Juicy,” “Big Poppa,” “One More Chance,” “Gimmie the Loot,” and “Respect.” These tracks played a crucial role in defining the New York hip-hop sound of the mid-90s.

The legendary album features an unapologetic lineup of boom-bap producers such as the late Mister Cee, DJ Premier, Easy Mo Bee, Lord Finesse, Chucky Thompson, and more. The performance of Smalls on Ready to Die involves heavy funk bound bars that depict the hardships and glamorous elements of opulent streetlife and serves as a reflection of hip-hop’s staying power.

Often hailed as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time, Ready to Die has received numerous accolades. It sold 57,000 units in its first week and was certified Gold by the RIAA just two months after its release. The album’s singles propelled Biggie onto several Billboard charts, including Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks, and Hot Rap Singles. In 1995, Biggie made a significant impact at the 1995 Source Awards by winning four awards that night, including Album of the Year. Ready to Die went on to earn a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance for “Big Poppa” in 1996.

Ready to Die and “La-Di-Da-Di” are among the 16 Rap/Hip-Hop recordings in the National Recording registry. They share this honor with iconic recordings such as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message,” Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Nas’ Illmatic, Tupac Shakur’s “Dear Mama,” and other timeless hip-hop releases.

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