The Notorious B.I.G.'s first chart-topping single, "Hypnotize," did so less than two months after the promising rapper was tragically slain in a drive-by shooting. It's ironic that a memorial to a fallen soul should be this full of life.
And when it was released as the lead-off to Biggie's hotly-anticipated Life After Death, fans were knocked out from the jump - that powerhouse hook and a triumphant rhythm of "Uhhh"s from B.I.G. were irresistible. The track, of course, was built on a sample of a previous No. 1 hit: "Rise," a 1979 instrumental from trumpet player Herb Alpert. Alpert's nephew Randy, who co-wrote the track, told Songfacts that co-producer/Bad Boy head Sean "Puffy" Combs recalled that "Rise" and CHIC's "Good Times" "were 'the songs' that all the kids were dancing and roller skating to that summer. He had always remembered that summer and that song."
Even co-producer Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie was blown away by the hook. "When I walked in the studio, he’s bouncing to the beat, and he has the biggest ‘Oh my God’ look on his face," D-Dot told Genius. "He said, 'Oh, yo, come here, come here, you gotta hear this.' He sat me down, and instantly said, 'Biggie Biggie Biggie, can’t you see.' That meant it was serious, ’cause you didn’t hear Big’s lyrics until he went in that room—everything was in his head. And then he said, 'Oh yeah, by the way, this is my first single.'”
The song's big-budget video was memorable for its speedboat sequences and even a slick shot of actual military helicopters flying over southern California. It was one of the last things Biggie filmed in his lifetime, and sadly never got to see the final product. "I showed him about a minute and a half in the early rounds and he was really excited," director Paul Hunter later said. "He smiled like a kid: This big, warm smile."
"Hypnotize" was the perfect way to celebrate The Notorious B.I.G.'s life after death (in more ways than one) - and it helped Bad Boy become the dominant force in the game in 1997: the song it knocked out of No. 1 was Puff Daddy's own "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down."