"Mo Money, Mo Problems" caught a big second wind this week, with the "Stripped Down Version" being released.
So figured it was only right to do this week's Sunday Night Sample on it.
After his death on March 9, 1997, The Notorious B.I.G. went on to become the first artist in history to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts twice posthumously. Which he did with "Hypnotize" first, and then later with "Mo Money Mo Problems". The song sat atop the Billboard charts for two weeks in August of 1997. The following year,"Mo Money Mo Problems" was nominated for the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
The lyrics explain how money and success can lead to problems, as others will covet your belongings and try to bring you down in an effort to bring themselves up. As the Bad Boy record label took off, they were faced with many new challenges, including violent attacks and a wave of lawsuits. As Biggie says prophetically during one of the video's interludes -
"The more money you make, the more problems you get. And jealousy and envy is just something that comes with the territory man. A lot of people is just negative energy like my man Puff say." - Christopher Wallace
(The clip comes from this rare interview)
This record was so important because it was one of the first rap songs to ever make the "crossover" to mainstream and pop radio. Hearing rap on top 40 radio stations or seeing it on the pop charts was usually unheard of back then. Something that sounds insane to think today.
"Mo Money Mo Problems" was produced by Stevie J and Sean Combs aka Puff Daddy. It featured Puffy and his rookie Bad Boy signee Ma$e. R&B singer Kelly Price sang the hook.
The song heavily sampled the disco classic hit from Diana Ross, "I'm Coming Out".
According to producer Stevie J, the idea for the song came from Ma$e, who asked him to sample it because he liked it so much.
Ma$e came to me in the studio one day with this “I’m Comin’ Out” sample. He’s like, “When you gonna use this right here? Either my album, Puff album or Big album?” So we laid the track first but nobody knew who was gonna get it. And then when Big came with the “B-I-G P-O-P-P-A!” What!? That was Big’s joint. Everybody felt that.
SAMPLE - Diana Ross - I'm Coming Out
"Mo Money Mo Problems" leveraged the vocals, and instruments from Diana Ross’ 1980 Top 5 single “I’m Coming Out.”
The legendary Nile Rodgers wrote and produced this song along with Bernard Edwards. They were the leaders of the '70s disco band "Chic", and brought that disco sound to Ross for this album. Rodgers got the idea for "I'm Coming Out" when he went to a gay bar in New York City. He went to the bathroom, and while he was standing at the urinal, he saw three men who looked like Diana Ross. "Coming Out" means coming out of the closet and being openly gay.
Nile Rodgers has gone on record telling a story about a popular DJ warning Diana Ross that this song was going to ruin her career as people would think she was gay. "It was the only time I've ever lied to an artist," he added. "I said: 'What are you talking about? That's the craziest thing I've ever heard in my life!' We had written it because of her gay following, but I said she should use it as her 'coming-out' song – to start her gigs – and she has ever since."
SAMPLE - 112 Feat Notorious B.I.G. & Mase - Only You (Remix)
The only elements from the "Only You (Remix" that "Mo Money Mo Problems" sampled was Puffy's "I thought I told you that we won't stop" adlib that would go on to become his catch phrase.
The music video for the track was directed by Hype Williams, who was basically the Michael Bay of the 90s and 2000s music videos. If you wanted your video to matter, you went to Hype Williams with a ridiculous budget. The "Mo Money Mo Problems" video was unique in that it included Puff Daddy playing the roll of "Puffy Woods" winning a golf tournament on a playoff hole against "Fuzzy Badfeet", with commentary from Ma$e as "Mase Gumball". These clips are interspersed with images of Ma$e and Combs in a futuristic wind tunnel lined with lights. The video also includes a bit of footage from Puff's personal archives: a home video of the Notorious B.I.G. talking about how more money causes more problems.
All time song from the all time greatest.
Here's a brutal lip-sync live performance in shiny suits on Britain's "Top of The Pops"
p.p.s. - One of my favorite Fun Facts. Darius Rucker went on Dan Patrick's show a few years back and explained background about the line in the song about him.
As Rucker recalled, he met Notorious B.I.G. at the Grammys. “He’s rolling through and some really hot girl walks by, and one of his boys was like, ‘I’ll pay her.’ Just as a joke, I go. ‘Man, I’m not paying for it,'” Rucker told Patrick. “We laughed and then his next record, he’s got a line on it that says, ‘Stay humble, stay low, blow like Hootie/True pimp n—-s spend no dough on the booty.’ Great line.”
The line in question, however, was not rapped by Biggie Smalls; instead, it comes in the song’s first verse, which is performed by Mase.