INTERVIEW: Faith Evans Talks Joint Biggie Smalls Album 'The King & I'
By Isha Thorpe
May 19, 2017
The songstress was married to the late Brooklyn MC for over two years before he was killed in 1997 after being shot multiple times. Both Smalls and Evans were signed to Puff’s Bad Boy Records and were all ready to take over the music industry and the world. Unfortunately, Biggie’s time was cut short.
The love Faith has for him has only grown since then. As she’s raising their only child together, Christopher Wallace Jr. II, the singer decided to show her undying love for her late partner in the most incredible way. She's released The King & I, a joint, posthumous album featuring songs with the two of them.
There are 25 tracks on the project and some are remixed versions of old classics from the rapper. There are two previously unreleased verses from him on it, as well. It also features other stars like Snoop Dogg, Jadakiss, Lil Cease, 112, Lil Kim, Busta Rhymes and more. DJ Premier, who helped produce songs on Biggie’s previous albums, brings his magic back to The King & I by being the sole producer on the albums last song, “It Was Worth It.” iHeartRadio got the chance to speak to Faith about the exciting new project and the process of creating such a masterpiece.
Read Faith Evans’ interview about her joint album with Biggie Smalls below. You can now buy The King & I here.
Why did you decide that now was a good time for The King & I to drop?
I don't know if it's really fair to say that I decided now because the time I wanted The King & I to be ready to be released, I think I was saying the end of 2015, early 2016. However, once I got into creating it, it just took a little longer. And once we got into 2017-- obviously this year's connected to a lot of milestones associated with B.I.G. and Bad Boy -- so that just happened to be the case, to be quite honest. If it were ready to be put out last year, we would have put it out last year.
Were there moments while recording the album that you got emotional?
One session in particular I was -- actually at that time I thought I was done recording -- and I was just playing the music back for some people. Just looking at everybody's reaction and I just sort of felt like a little tap on my shoulder to go talk to one of the writers who worked a lot on the project and I just kind of started crying like, 'I think that was him, telling me ...' And I'm not like a crier (laughs). So, I kind of pulled myself together because I didn't want everybody to be alarmed and think something was wrong. But, I definitely felt it was his energy telling me that he was proud. That's just how I felt. And I felt that way throughout the process of recording, but that particular day I just like a supernatural feeling.
So, what are your favorite songs on the album and why?
The King & I, it's a story. It's really a musical movie and every song sort of has its own place [and] fits a certain period in our relationship or a certain mood. So, it's really hard to pick just one favorite because they all kind of have a very different feel. One song that's very special to me is a song called 'One In The Same,' which is about our son, CJ. Initially, I wanted CJ to be featured on it. But, he didn't end up really wanting to do it. I think it may have been a little bit more emotional for him.
Did you always see yourself remixing some of Biggie’s songs when he was alive?
Well, the inspiration to do a project like The King & I came from when I heard Natalie Cole's Unforgettable, and I told [myself]… 'That would be really dope if I could do something like that one day.' I never set out on actually doing it. Then a couple years ago, my attorney reminded me of the idea when we took a meeting with the Warner/Atlantic/Rhino Family who acquired the masters and they were very interested in supporting my ideas.
Other Bad Boy label mates like 112, Stevie J, Lil Kim, etc. contributed. How did they react to this album?
Well, I didn't get to go in the studio with every single featured artist. [When I was] approaching people to say that I was even working on the project, there was always a very positive response. There are a lot of people that I wanted to work with or [wanted] to be featured on the album and it just didn't happen, whether it be for scheduling reasons or whatever. But, the spirit was still there, like, 'Wow, that's dope. You and B.I.G.? Of course I want to be [a part] of it.'
What do you think Biggie's reaction would be to hearing the song with you and Lil' Kim?
I think B.I.G. is very proud that finally we did record a record together. I wanted to record with Kim a few albums ago. Then, I never knew that, 'Oh, well, it didn't happen now, but it's going to happen on the album with you and B.I.G.,' because I didn't know I would be doing the album with B.I.G. So, it's just I guess how God [works]. He wanted it to be what it is. So, of course that makes it even more special. I think our fans have wanted us to work together for years. But, being that it's on a record with me and B.I.G. and a song about us both missing him, I think that makes it even more special.
How did you get Biggie’s mother, Miss Wallace, on some of the songs?
A few years back, I was filming a [documentary], just putting together personal footage as I traveled. I was on the east coast with my camera guy and we went to Miss Wallace's house. So, when I started putting the sequence of this album together, I was looking online and on YouTube for different little interviews or clips where they talk about me and B.I.G., whoever it might be. I saw a few things from Miss Wallace. But then, I realized that I had all this footage that I owned with her. So, I started looking through my footage and I found a few bits and pieces and just arranged them and put music under them. So, she didn't actually go in the studio.
But, I did call her like, 'Mama, I'm using some of this stuff and you're going to be on the album,' and she was cool with it. She just wanted to make sure she got her publisher. (Laughs)
There's been a lot of like conspiracies about who really killed Tupac with Suge Knight recently talking about it. How do you feel about Biggie's death still being unsolved?
Obviously, I think it's awful that the murder's still unsolved. It's been so many years all we can really do is continue to hope and pray that the LAPD ultimately brings somebody to justice. It's not up to us to be able to do that, so that's really all we can do. We just at some point realize, okay, if we feel like they know what happened, we feel like we know what happened. But, you got to say that you know what happened.
Photos: Katherine Tyler for iHeartRadio