The Meaning Behind The Notorious B.I.G.’s Paranoid Hit “Warning”

On The Notorious B.I.G.‘s legendary debut album Ready to Die (1994), he used multiple songs to have a conversation with himself from two different perspectives. After the second song on the track list “Gimme the Loot” did this, B.I.G. revisited the concept on Ready to Die‘s fifth song “Warning.”

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The premise of “Warning” is that an elderly man named Pop, who is wiser and has more street smarts than B.I.G., is letting the rapper know that a gang of men is looking to kill him. An idea that bewilders B.I.G. at first, considering that he is a beloved figure in his Brooklyn neighborhood, Pop says that a friend told him a few folks B.I.G. grew up with learned that he was affluent now, and were envious of that fact.

Nah, them my n****s, nah, love, wouldn’t disrespect
I didn’t say them
They schooled me to some n****s that you knew from back when
When you was clockin’ minor figures
Now they heard you’re blowin’ up like nitro
And they wanna stick the knife through your windpipe slow

*B.I.G. *Pop

In the eventual music video for “Warning,” B.I.G. depicts this process. At first, he wakes up to hear his phone ringing. Then, after he answers and Pop (played by Diddy) gives him the rundown, they prepare for the gang to show up to kill B.I.G. The video ends with a shoot-out taking place at B.I.G.’s home, with the MC being victorious.

However, in an interview with XXL from 2004, the song’s producer Easy Mo Bee revealed that he initially made the instrumental for fellow Brooklyn native Big Daddy Kane. Using the sample of Isaac Hayes’ 1969 track “Walk on By,” Easy Mo Bee thought Kane would love the song. But, he turned it down.

“The significant thing about ‘Warning’ is—and I’m definitely not trying to diss him, he put me on the map, he’s the first I ever worked with, so total respect to him—but that beat was offered first to Big Daddy Kane,” Easy Mo Bee said. “I remember him sittin’ in my crib, and I was playing him beats. I forget the album at the time that he was doing. And you know Kane was always into the Barry White, Isaac Hayes thing. So I did this joint off of Isaac Hayes, and I’m just feelin’ it. I’m feelin’ myself. I just know he gonna love this. This is the vibe. But he was like, ‘Play the next beat.’ I was like, ‘Yo, hold up, man. You sure you don’t want that? That’s Isaac Hayes!’ He said, ‘You heard what I said, play the next beat.’ So I just kept the beat and held onto it. A few months later when it was time to play B.I.G. beats, I played it for him. Aw man, [Diddy] went crazy! He went crazy, like, ‘Yo man, this is it!'”

[RELATED: Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G.’s No. 1 Hits Ranked]

“Warning” ended up releasing alongside “Big Poppa” as a double single, which was certified platinum by RIAA in 1995.

Photo: YouTube

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