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It Was All a Dream: 'Ready to Die' Immortalized in National Recording Registry

The Library of Congress has announced the latest additions to the National Recording Registry, with notable selections including ABBA's "Dancing Queen," Blondie's "Parallel Lines" and The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Ready to Die."

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden unveiled the 25 new titles on Tuesday, citing their cultural, historical, or aesthetic significance in the nation's recorded sound heritage. The registry now boasts 650 titles, representing a diverse array of music genres and eras.

In addition to The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Ready to Die," other inductees include Gene Autry's rendition of "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," Héctor Lavoe's "El Cantante" and Green Day's "Dookie." The selection process involved input from the National Recording Preservation Board, which considered landmark recordings spanning from 1919 to 1998.

Hayden emphasized the importance of preserving America's musical legacy, stating, "The Library of Congress is proud to preserve the sounds of American history and our diverse culture through the National Recording Registry."

The recognition of "Ready to Die" marks a milestone for hip-hop, as the album, released in 1994, serves as both The Notorious B.I.G.'s debut studio album and his only full-length studio release during his lifetime. B.I.G. was killed in 1997, and his music continues to influence new artists.

Produced by Sean "Puffy" Combs and featuring hit singles like "Juicy" and "Big Poppa," "Ready to Die" is celebrated for its innovative sampling, raw lyricism, and vivid portrayal of street life. The album achieved critical acclaim and commercial success, earning a 6x Platinum certification from the RIAA.

Quotes from music critics reflect the album's enduring impact: "One of the greatest rap albums ever made" (AllMusic), "A near-flawless debut...he effortlessly spins tales both gritty and witty" (Entertainment Weekly), and "It changed the sound of East Coast rap and revitalized the entire New York hip-hop scene" (Source Magazine).

The induction of "Ready to Die" into the National Recording Registry underscores its cultural significance and contribution to the evolution of hip-hop music. As part of the registry, the album will be preserved for future generations to appreciate and study.

Find a complete listing of this year's selections below.

Recordings Selected for the 2024 National Recording Registry
  • “Clarinet Marmalade” – Lt. James Reese Europe’s 369th U.S. Infantry Band (1919)
  • “Kauhavan Polkka” – Viola Turpeinen and John Rosendahl (1928)
  • Wisconsin Folksong Collection (1937-1946)
  • “Rose Room” – Benny Goodman Sextet with Charlie Christian (1939)
  • “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – Gene Autry (1949)
  • “Tennessee Waltz” – Patti Page (1950)
  • “Rocket ‘88’” – Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats (1951) 
  • “Catch a Falling Star” / ”Magic Moments” – Perry Como (1957)
  • “Chances Are” – Johnny Mathis (1957) 
  • “The Sidewinder” – Lee Morgan (1964)
  • “Surrealistic Pillow” – Jefferson Airplane (1967)
  • “Ain’t No Sunshine” – Bill Withers (1971)
  • “This is a Recording” – Lily Tomlin (1971)
  • “J.D. Crowe & the New South” – J.D. Crowe & the New South (1975)
  • “Arrival” – ABBA (1976)
  • “El Cantante” – Héctor Lavoe (1978)
  • “The Cars” – The Cars (1978) 
  • “Parallel Lines” – Blondie (1978)
  • “La-Di-Da-Di” – Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick (MC Ricky D) (1985)
  • “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” – Bobby McFerrin (1988)
  • “Amor Eterno” – Juan Gabriel (1990)
  • “Pieces of Africa” – Kronos Quartet (1992)
  • “Dookie” – Green Day (1994)
  • “Ready to Die” – The Notorious B.I.G. (1994)
  • “Wide Open Spaces” – The Chicks (1998)

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