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Album Review: Faith Evans & The Notorious B.I.G. – The King And I

2 min read
Photo: Jonathan Mannion/Warner Music Australia

20 years ago the hip hop scene was dominated by the West Coast – East Coast gang rivalry. On the East Coast was The Notorious B.I.G. and his New York based Bad Boy Records label.  On the West Coast, Tupac Shakur laid his ground at the L.A. based Death Row Records. Eventually each of these star crossed gangsters had their lives taken by a bullet shot in a drive-by. In the middle of this upheaval was Faith Evans, the First Lady of Bad Boy Records (so called as she was the first female talent to be signed to the label).

One can not approach this album without having a grasp of the tumultuous time she found herself in the ’90’s. The King and I refers to her late husband Christopher Wallace a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G.. This album takes us back to this time in hip hop history and Faith Evan’s personal life as we listen to the her solo numbers and collaborations with artists like Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg, Lil’ Kim (with whom she found herself in an infamous love triangle) and of course Biggie.

To mark the 20th anniversary of The Notorious B.I.G.’s death, and seeing it as her duty to continue his Legacy, Faith sets the purpose of the album the lead single of The King And I. It begins with an interview audio shot of Biggie talking about his relationship with Faith, then moves to include previously unreleased Biggie vocals complimented by Evan’s smooth R&B melodic licks. She reminisces, “Sometimes I get caught up imagining the way things could have been…we can’t turn back the time”. NYC is another fresh track included in this collection. It features the talent of Jadakiss and gives fans an idea of what New York City means to Faith.

The King And I has a greater purpose than only that of commercial success. It tells the story of the music Faith and her crowd made back then, capturing their life style and challenges, but then moves on to include commentary of what could have been or what she learnt that reflect back on those tough days.