The weight of Notorious B.I.G.'s legacy is so profound that most major rap MCs and R&B singers alive -- and some who are dead -- are willing to be attached to it in whatever form possible. It could also be argued that anyone with the means is more than willing to profit from it in a monetary way. Here's Duets: The Final Chapter, released just before Christmas Day 2005, following 1999's Born Again, which was released just before Christmas Day 1999. Like Born Again, Duets takes bits of unused material from the late legend, and that can entail full-blown verses, looped declarations, or punctuative interjections. On some tracks, Biggie's presence is no more prominent than a handclap or a snare hit. Check the lead track "It Has Been Said," where he's limited to "what," "ungh," "yeah," "ha-ha," "uh-huh." If you can get past the fact that a lot of tracks barely feature the headliner, or listen without imagining the original contexts of the patched-together scraps, Duets can be sporadically riveting. The list of guests is overwhelming, with Jay-Z, Nas, Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans, R. Kelly, T.I., Slim Thug, Eminem, Lil Wayne, Missy Elliott, the Clipse, Snoop Dogg, and Freeway representing roughly half of the involved. Only a few tracks contain significant Biggie contributions, and it's not as if they provide any further insight or add to his long-established legend. Many of his vocals are not pulled from professional studio-quality recordings, which only makes them sound more displaced. Perhaps Korn's Jonathan Davis put it best when he told Billboard about the project: "It's f*ckin' weird to be doing a song with someone who is deceased!" His description applies to what it's like to listen to the disc.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
feat: Mobb Deep
feat: Missy Elliott