The name The Notorious B.I.G. has left a permanent imprint in music, be it gangster rap or funk. Among his classic songs, “Big Poppa” still remains one of the best grooves ever sung and recorded. This is why, after 25 years since its release, fans of all ages are able to enjoy this classic. In this article, we dive into the history, the making, and the meaning behind “Big Poppa” by The Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls.
By the time of the “Big Poppa” song release, Biggie was already a famous name in the hip-hop scene. He was a student of the gangster rap scene that was popularized by artists such as N.W.A., and Ice T. However, “Big Poppa” saw Biggie shifting gears dramatically. The song assumes a smooth gangsta-funk vibe, and Biggie spreading his dominating demeanor dressed in lover-boy jazz.
“Big Poppa’ was released as the second single from the debut studio album ‘Ready to Die’ by The Notorious B.I.G., on December 24, 1994. The song had big shoes to fill as “Juicy” was the first single off the album.
“Big Poppa” features a sample of the song “Between the Sheets” by The Isley Brothers. The songwriting credits on the song extend to The Isley Brothers, Chris Jasper, and The Notorious B.I.G. The song also features a cameo and additional vocals by Puff Daddy.
“Big Poppa” was a commercial success. It sold over 1 million copies in the U.S. by May of 1995. The song also peaked at #6 on Billboard Hot 100 Chart, making Biggie’s first top 10 hit in the U.S. The song was nominated for two awards ‘Best Rap Solo Performance’ and ‘Best Rap Song of the Year’ at the 1996 Grammy Awards. However, the song’s most coveted accomplishment would be its induction into the 2021 list of ‘The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time‘ by Rolling Stone magazine.
Watch “Big Poppa” Music Video by The Notorious B.I.G.
Buy ‘Ready to Die’ Album on Apple Music & Amazon
Biggie Smalls “Big Poppa” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review
Biggie indulges us all in a 90’s club scene, where he is still the king. He goes on to describe his presence in the club and starts laying his webs of seduction all over the place.
Biggie starts with class; “To all the ladies in the place with style and grace.” He talks to the ladies with style and grace, excluding the broke gold diggers. His hooks are in. But he wastes no time. The second line on the verse goes right for the kill.
Allow me to lace these lyrical douches in your bushes (Uh)
‘Bushes’ is a common slang used to describe a woman’s sexual organs covered in natural hair. Biggie knows the impact his words have on the ladies. His style and flow are like a douche, which is used to clean the interior of the said sexual organs. His lyrics make the ladies, well, um, beg for more. Biggie plays on the idea that both his songs and stature have women falling for him.
Biggie knows his place in the club is at the back. This is where the VIP sections are located. This is where the drinks served are good, and the women are classier. Biggie says he will be sipping Moët & Chandon champagne and smoking a weed there. At the end of this verse, Biggie reveals that he smokes Chronic, a very high-quality weed strain.
Biggie has no hidden agenda. He is upfront that he is here to ‘creep’ or have secret and short sessions with women. But for someone as big as Biggie, this must be quite difficult. And everybody wants to earn a quick buck off of someone else’s fame; “Why blow up my spot ’cause we both got hot?.”
But then again, Biggie is not trying to hide the fact that he is rich either. He says he has enough money to feed the needy of New York, and even his friends are in the same income slab. They all drive Mercedes Benzes. Biggie is trying to say that there is no need to scam him, he has enough money to take care of his flings.
The hook of the song is an iconic club vibe altogether.
I love it when you call me Big Poppa
Biggie also shouts out to all the true players and the gold diggers alike. The real struggle continues in the club — men who want to get the ladies to lay with them, and the ladies who try to rip off a fool to make some money.
Biggie also talks about the dangers that always lurked in these clubs back in the day. He asks the gentlemen not to shoot up the place, which sounds like an odd request, but was a real fear back then. Biggie would like to have some simple pleasures with a woman tonight which would be ruined if there was a shooting.
‘Back in the day’ was just for the dramatic effect that Biggie wants to bring into this song. Club shootings are quite common even today, thanks to the severe lack of gun control regulations.
Watch Biggie Perform “Big Poppa” Live at MTV Spring Break Event in 1995
The second verse kicks off with Biggie explaining to the ladies that he has more game than the average Joes they meet in the non-VIP sections of the club.
Who they attractin’ with that line (What?), “What’s your name? What’s your sign?”
Biggie says that asking a lady’s name and asking their zodiac sign is not ‘flirting.’ This is not going to get any guy laid. So, what does Biggie suggest? How does Biggie Smalls pick up a girl at the club?
And ask you what your interests are, who you be with
Things that make you smile, what numbers to dial
You gon’ be here for a while? I’m gon’ go call my crew, you go call your crew
We can rendezvous at the bar around 2 (Come on)
Geez! He asks what her interest are?! The lady has to answer this. What are the things that make her smile?! She has to answer this. However, Biggie is not clingy. He does not mind these ladies partying it up at the club until it’s time to leave around 2 in the morning. Biggie will reunite with these women when the club closes and it’s time to find a place to crash for the night.
Next, Biggie describes his usual after 2 am routine. Pick up the girl/s, give the car keys to Little Cease (biggie’s right-hand man), and drive to the hotel. On the way to the hotel, they will grab some “T-bone steak, cheese eggs and Welch’s grape.” Yum!
On the way to the hotel, Biggie has a change of mind — instead of the hotel, he takes the party to his home, where he can freely smoke his weed and get it on in the jacuzzi.
Instrumental of “Big Poppa”
In the third verse of the song, Biggie explains how he bathes in luxury now. He says he lives in a mansion and drives Benzes around. But he is generous. He gives shares his luxury with his friends so they meet their ends meet.
“A dollar and a dream” is a popular slogan put forth by the New York State lottery. It also highlights the idea that in the USA, you only need a dollar and a dream to make it. However, at this point in his life, Biggie could not and does not have to bother about such affairs. He doesn’t have to wait for luck to hit him with lottery winnings to make him rich. His skill already made him rich.
Money, ho*s and clothes: all a n*gga knows (All a ni*ga knows)
A foolish pleasure? Whatever
Biggie knows what life is about for the rich and the lavish — making money and spending it on women and clothes. Is this lifestyle foolish? Maybe, but it feels good.
Biggie also throwback to the time he had to sell drugs, cocaine to be precise, to make ends meet. Until he struck gold with his music, it was tough times. In 1991, Biggie was arrested for dealing crack cocaine and had to spend 9 months in jail before posting bail. His musical success is equated to ‘buried treasure,’ he had to dig and dig for it.
In the present, Biggie is doing very well. He does not have to deal with drugs to make money now. He flexes by saying that he wears Coogi sweaters, which he did quite often in real life.
With all this being said, what Biggie is trying to say is that he is “the man” for all the girls he comes across.
“Big Poppa” certainly sent a message about Biggie’s transition into a lady’s man as opposed to a full-on gangsta.
Let us hear what you think about this song in the comments below. Check out the complete lyrics on Genius.