When The Notorious B.I.G. blew up at the end of 1994, he wasted no time putting his people on. The Junior M.A.F.I.A. (Masters at Finding Intelligent Attitudes) boasted a bunch of Big’s homies from Bed-Stuy, and their debut album, Conspiracy, hit stores in the summer of ’95, just as their mentor was topping the charts with the “One More Chance” remix.
Although I imagine Big saw his proteges as a Wu-styled collective, the M.A.F.I.A. boasted only one really stellar talent, Lil Kim. She was blessed with sass and spunk and an outrageous sexuality that ran counter to the popular female rappers of the day (Lyte, Latifah and Brat). One of Kim’s spotlight turns was on the album version of “Get Money”. Big opens the song with a verse directed at his female partner, who’s not sufficiently ride-or-die (“because of you/I’m on some old fuck-a-bitch shit”). The second verse is Kim’s ferocious retort. She matches Big line for line, growling “payback’s a bitch, motherfucker/believe me”. Their chemistry is electric, and the quirky Sylvia Striplin sample gives the track added flavor.
“Get Money” was released as Conspiracy‘s third single in the spring of ’96, and as is the case with most mid ’90s hip-hop remixes, the second version of “Get Money” has barely anything in common with the original. This time, Big and Kim are joined by M.A.F.I.A associate Lil Cease and they rhyme over a bass-heavy sample of Dennis Edwards’ 1984 classic “Don’t Look Any Further”. Kim’s rhymes are more aggressively sexual on this version, and Lil Cease manages to keep the listener interested with his first verse, but this remix finds the teacher schooling his students. Big asserts his dominance with a slick verse that finds him commenting on his new life as a tabloid fixture (“guns, I bust ’em/problems with my wife/don’t discuss ’em”) in addition to his standard tales of materialism and crime, punctuated with dark humor (“your mom’s an actress/didn’t wanna show me the safe/It’s oh-kay!/she was old anyway”). He also sings the chorus, which references Shabba Ranks’ 1989 reggae hit “Don’t Test Me”.
I’m not sure if ‘Pac thought he got hit with a subliminal during Big’s verse, but it’s notable that his follow-up diss record “Hit ’em Up”, utilizes an interpolation of the same “Don’t Look Any Further” beat.
The M.A.F.I.A. more or less fell apart a year later when Big died, at which point Kim was already a solo star. Big’s aspirational goals for his crew weren’t fully realized, but at least they resulted in one…uh, two great singles.