Under the guidance of the Notorious B.I.G., Junior M.A.F.I.A. released their first single, "Player's Anthem," in the summer of 1995, along with the full-length Conspiracy. Not surprisingly, the group's music resembles that of The Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready to Die, complete with an opening sound collage. Considering Ready to Die was one of the seminal hip-hop releases of the early '90s, Conspiracy could have been an inspired, enjoyable sequel; instead, it's a fitfully successful replication of the earlier record's strengths. The major problem is Junior M.A.F.I.A. doesn't have enough personality to distinguish themselves from the B.I.G., who appears on four of the album's songs. Little Kim, the group's only female, does bring things to life on occasion, but it isn't quite enough to save the entire album. Nevertheless, the Clark Kent-produced "Player's Anthem" is a classic single, riding on its rubbery bass and surprisingly warm sentiments. Although the Notorious B.I.G. contributes some killer rhymes to the song; he fits into the overall sound of the single, but he doesn't dominate. Instead, the true personalities of Junior M.A.F.I.A. shine through, and they are impressive.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine