Faith Evans / The Notorious B.I.G.

The King & I

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    5
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AllMusic Review by

Its co-billing notwithstanding, The King & I is more a Faith Evans release that frequently samples the voice of the Notorious B.I.G. than it is the third posthumous B.I.G. album. It's a sprawling nostalgia trip of sorts through the duo's relationship, one that even incorporates an interlude where Jamal Woolard reprises his lead Notorious role to re-create a lighthearted early moment in Evans and Biggie's courtship. Elsewhere, Biggie's mother Voletta, credited as co-executive producer with Evans' and Biggie's daughter and son, recalls interactions with her late son and daughter-in-law. The likes of old associates such as Lil' Kim, Lil' Cease, Sheek Louch, Jadakiss, and Busta Rhymes also contribute verses. Biggie is heard throughout, most frequently with lines so well-known that his presence ranges from baffling at best to confounding at worst. There are some clever applications, such as the use of a Biggie verse from an obscure Aaron Hall track, heard on the slick Just Blaze collaboration "The Reason." Some of these songs, however, would be much more effective without the late rapper's voice. Take the otherwise fine "Somebody Knows," where Evans sings about the mystery regarding Biggie's murder; Biggie himself punctuates a bunch of lines with "Who shot ya?," as if he's addressing his lifeless body. The recycling of parts from "Who Shot Ya?," a historic moment in hip-hop -- a track 2Pac believed was directed at him -- is bizarre enough, but the context into which they're dropped here lacks sense. The constant recycling, along with the quantity and variety of other voices, detract from some of Evans' best, most impassioned performances, which are matched with some solid work from a roster of co-producers that includes Salaam Remi, James Poyser, and DJ Premier.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:00
2 4:11
3 0:30
4 3:53
5 3:48
6 1:28
7 3:45
8 3:38
9 3:26
10 2:26
11 3:47
12 1:05
13 3:04
14 0:43
15 4:22
16 1:13
17 2:54
18 3:29
19 5:15
20 4:01
21 3:25
22
1:27
23 3:49
24
3:32
25 1:58
blue highlight denotes track pick