The Notorious B.I.G.: Why Prince Declined to Make a Song With Him

The Notorious B.I.G. and Prince made very different songs; however, that didn’t stop The Notorious B.I.G. from trying to collaborate with Prince. Prince ultimately declined to work with the legendary rapper for a very specific reason. Interestingly, he later praised the rapper.

The Notorious B.I.G. in front of a car
The Notorious B.I.G. | Clarence Davis/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

The Notorious B.I.G. wanted to make a song with Prince during a ‘reflection point in hip-hop’

Although The Notorious B.I.G. was a rapper, he was still willing to work with pop and R&B artists. For example, he appeared on a track called “This Time Around” from Michael Jackson’s classic album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I. According to XXL, Sean “Diddy” Combs revealed The Notorious B.I.G. wanted to work with Prince on a song from the album Life After Death around the same time.

“We did the thing with Michael Jackson, and me and [Biggie] was always Prince fans and stuff like that,” Combs said. “But this was during a time when Prince wasn’t really rocking with hip-hop and wasn’t really clearing any samples, so that really didn’t go too well. But we was always still cool with him and wound up sampling some of his records and he wound up not chasing me for them in the future.”

Prince with a microphone
Prince | Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NCLR

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Prince had some positive things to say about The Notorious B.I.G. and Combs, even if he had some issues with the hip-hop of the time. “He would just go through his phases and he came back to us and just let us know how proud he was of us and the whole thing,” Combs explained. “He was just really protective at one time of just what was going on as far as the whole ‘b—-‘ and ‘hoe’ controversy. That was a real moment in hip-hop. That was a real reflection point in hip-hop where we were being kind of asked to take responsibility and think about what we were saying.” Combs was apparently referring to controversies surrounding the portrayal of women in hip-hop in the 1990s.

How The Notorious B.I.G.’s album ‘Life After Death’ and its songs performed on the charts

Life After Death was a major success, Prince or no Prince. The album reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200, staying on the chart for 87 weeks. Life After Death produced two major hit singles: “Hypnotize” and “Mo Money Mo Problems.” “Hypnotize” and “Mo Money Mo Problems” reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100. The former song stayed on the chart for 20 weeks and the latter song stayed on the chart for 30 weeks.

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How Prince’s songs from the same era performed on the charts

Life After Death was released in 1997. At that point, Prince’s most recent album was 1996’s Emancipation. Emancipation reached No. 11 on the Billboard 200, remaining on the chart for 21 weeks. None of the singles from Emancipation charted on the Billboard Hot 100. Life After Death clearly eclipsed Emancipation commercially in the United States. While The Notorious B.I.G. and Prince are both legendary artists, the former was simply more successful at the time.