The Notorious B.I.G. feat. Puff Daddy and Mase – Mo Money Mo Problems

First Hit #1: August 30, 1997

If you watch the video for Mo Money Mo Problems, you can’t help notice a giant hole in the center of it. The video, attempting to give a vibe of good times and fun – as mentioned previously, The Notorious B.I.G. was a funny guy and his singles tended to be quite joyful and witty – can’t help but feel incomplete. It’s all Puff Daddy and Mase, trying their damnedest to keep everything light and goofy, but they’re the weaker rappers here, and they’re not who you want to hear anyway. It’s basically a song about the travails of fame, or at least it feels like it should be, but the first two verses are pretty much just bragging about wealth instead of touching on any of the consequences. The headline verse, the last one, is the only one that seems remotely conflicted about flame – references to increased police attention lead it off – but the song is resolutely focused on the mo money half of the equation, and neglects the problems. Which is fine, it’s trying to be something of a party track and is focused squarely on good times – Life After Death’s singles, in spite of it’s sadly appropriate title, were very much about good times – but it does feel as though there’s a disconnect between the chorus and the verses. It’s a subject that could be – and has been, repeatedly – mined for art, but this is more a song for forgetting your problems.

As a side note, I hate it when a music video interrupts the song for a comedy interlude. Especially when the comedy isn’t actually funny.

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One Response to The Notorious B.I.G. feat. Puff Daddy and Mase – Mo Money Mo Problems

  1. RBerman says:

    The beginning is promising enough, with the extended homage (or is it a sample?) of one of Diana Ross’ best disco hits. The other sung motif (“I don’t know what they want from me…”) is another of those 90s R&B melodies that appears to have come straight from a playground song. B.I.G’s posthumous rap is once again better than the others, but somehow it’s Puff Daddy who plants his flag on four out of the five consecutive #1 singles this year. This ought to have meant he was enjoying Michael Jackson-level fame, but if so, where’s his private amusement park? The #1 spot had never been a guarantee of cultural or economic domination (ask A Taste of Honey, or the New Vaudeville guys), but its connection with broad cultural acceptance seems to be getting more tenuous as the late 1990s roll around. By 2010, Katie Perry could tie Michael Jackon’s record of five #1 songs from a single album, yet her “Teenage Dream” album was barely double platinum in sales.

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