On March 9, 1997 hip-hop lost what was deemed as it’s greatest current asset. The Notorious B.I.G was gunned down in L.A and after losing Pac just a few months before, nothing in hip-hop really mattered beyond the mourning and the music of the two rap giants.
March 25th 1997, is most commonly known as the day the classic posthumous album, Life After Death dropped and it was the final “Real Time” chapter of the short career of the Notorious B.I.G. Another album dropped around that time. I say around that time because I seen two release dates [The other being April 8th] and since I didn’t buy this album day of, I can’t confirm. What I can confirm is this album may be the most slept on album of the great year that was 1997. That album is Tracey Lee’s Many Facez.
March 25th was all about Biggie for me. I remember my guy Antonie, coming by the crib and we were going over his copy of the album. I was amazed…and you can read about that in my “Tears For A Legend” post, so lets fast forward.
My guy J-Dub took a chance on an album based off one song. Which wasn’t uncommon back in the day. Cats used to come out with bangers and you wanted to hear more and you didn’t mind copping the maxi single or the album just to see what’s good. Dub hit me up one night like,
Dub: “Yo! That Tracey Lee, COLD!” You need to listen to it!
Me: Tracey Lee???
Dub: Yeah, dude that got that song “The Theme“. You know, the “It’s Party Time Joint”
Me: Ah ok. It’s Cold?
Dub: Yeah dog, you got to check it out.
Needless to say, I forgot, but I did like “The Theme”. It just didn’t seem like it was a pressing issue to cop it.
Time goes on and Tracey Lee, is climbing the charts on Rap City. The Rap City Top 10 countdown for me was like Billboard for the rest of the world. If you were in the Top 10. I felt I had to know who you were and your songs because Joe Clair vouched for it with the voice over between videos. I officially LOVE “The Theme“ now and was rocking to it.
One night, I was leaving Dub crib and he hit me like
Dub: Cam! You need to listen to that Tracey Lee Many Facez cause the ISH ain’t NOTHING BUT BUTTER!
Now, Im overly intrigued. The whole world is still talking Biggie, but my guy is saying “This Tracey Lee though”
Then he bust a real hip-hop homey move. Took the cassette out and said, “Take this to the crib, listen to it and tell me it’s not bumping”.
I had no choice. I was officially going to take a listen and give a fair chance to the Philly Emcee Tracey Lee.
I didn’t have my license at the time so I did my music test the way all kids do; Playing NBA Live! I throw the game on and the album on and MAN! Dub was right! The Many Facez album sounded incredible to me! Incredible to the point where I didn’t understand why other people weren’t talking about this album.
My favorite joint on the album hands down is “On The Edge”. I was too young to identify in any way with the story at the time, but I felt the story like I was living it. As I grew into a man, this song became an addition to the soundtrack of my life. I still love the record and identify right now more than ever.
Then the jewel of jewels happened. I hear Biggies voice on the album! I paused the game and went nuts! The original “Keep You Hands High” is a Tracey Lee song with Biggie and Tracey going back and forth. To this day I feel that song should have never been touched and only revisited and promoted better. No disrespect to Red and Meth at all, but that original is a classic to me. Truly the best of both emcees on that joint.
It’s other super dope joints on this album too! “Star In The East”, “Who Shot L.R?” “Give It Up Baby” The Intro is fire and I’ve given you at least 7 songs and this album is 17 tracks with 3 interludes.
Salute to my guy Dub! This was the first album that somebody actually put me on and it literally changed my mindset on how I buy albums and check for artist. Salute to Tracey Lee! You dropped an incredible album that didn’t get it’s due. If you see this and you’re in Chicago, let’s chop it up. I want to hear your story and ask some in depth questions. I want to know about that Puffy, Mark Pitts, Bad Boy and Bystorm connection and how Harlem and Philly all got together to make a great moment in hip-hop.
Long before it was “Split Personalities” and “Alter Ego albums” there was Tracey Lee’s Many Facez album. An album where one emcee played 5 emcees and all sides of that emcee put out dope product. Get up to speed on that Many Facez album. It just might be, the best album you haven’t bought.
Where is the video for this song?
Apple Music! Stop playing around and put that Tracey Lee Many Facez album on there!