Evans, 43, breaks down five key tracks off the deeply personal project. (Warning: Songs contain some NSFW language.)
Take Me There (feat. Sheek Louch & Styles P)
Take opens with a previously unheard recording of her late husband (real name: Christopher Wallace) rapping Lil’ Kim’s verse from collaboration Drugs, taken from a reference vocal he made in the studio. “People may have heard Kim say it, but they never heard Big do the rap,” Evans says. I Don’t Want It with Lil’ Cease similarly features a demo he recorded for Lil’ Kim and Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s We Don’t Need It, while Evans pulled audio from old home video of Biggie’s mom, Voletta Wallace, to use in interludes throughout King & I.
Lovin You for Life (feat. Lil’ Kim)
Since their public love triangle and feud in the ’90s, Evans has buried the hatchet with Biggie’s mentee Lil’ Kim. She asked the Magic Stick rapper about collaborating last year, on an emotional song that uses Biggie’s Miss U. “I told her, ‘I want you to talk about how you really felt about him. You don’t have to be politically correct,’ ” Evans says. “We are coming together to talk about this man that we both loved and I thought it was important to be woman enough to (be honest). It’s OK. It’s well-documented. I don’t hold any hard feelings, so I thought that was really dope.”
On this single, Evans sings about their three-year relationship over Biggie’s Would You Die For Me?, which is taken off his first posthumous album, 1999’s Born Again. “If this album were to have a title song, it would be Legacy,” Evans says. “It’s an extension of my job and my duty to extend his legacy. The fact that I’m able to do this record and talk about our love, our experiences and that anybody even cares about it, that represents a legacy. That’s a really special song and people seem to be receiving it well, too.”
One in the Same
Evans uses Biggie’s Respect in this heartwarming ballad, which is dedicated to their 20-year-old son, C.J. Wallace, who also is a burgeoning rapper and played a younger version of his father in 2009 biopic Notorious. “Initially, I wanted C.J. to be on that song, but emotionally, I think it may have been a little too heavy for him,” Evans says. “He wanted to do it, but then he was like, ‘I don’t know if I (can).’ So I didn’t force it.”
Somebody Knows (feat. Busta Rhymes)
Somebody opens with a news report about Biggie’s murder and finds Evans grappling with the aftermath over a sample of his controversial Who Shot Ya? “I just wanted to use the phrase ‘Who shot ya?’ and build the hook around that,” Evans says. “As we got around to writing the song, I decided to borrow a few more phrases that made sense with what I was saying. I initially wanted to get Jay Z on that song also, because of the whole Brooklyn connection, but I wasn’t able to connect with him in time.”
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