Faith Evans: It's 'my duty' to extend Notorious B.I.G.'s legacy on new album

The King of New York is getting his most stirring tribute yet.

Twenty years ago this March, Brooklyn rapper Notorious B.I.G. was killed by an unknown assailant in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles. To mark the anniversary, his widow, R&B singer Faith Evans, recorded duets album The King & I, out Friday, in which she sings over some of his most well-known verses, along with some rarely heard material.

Evans, 43, breaks down five key tracks off the deeply personal project. (Warning: Songs contain some NSFW language.)

Take Me There (feat. Sheek Louch & Styles P)

Take opens with a previously unheard recording of her late husband (real name: Christopher Wallace) rapping Lil' Kim's verse from collaboration Drugs, taken from a reference vocal he made in the studio. "People may have heard Kim say it, but they never heard Big do the rap," Evans says. I Don't Want It with Lil' Cease similarly features a demo he recorded for Lil' Kim and Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s We Don't Need It, while Evans pulled audio from old home video of Biggie's mom, Voletta Wallace, to use in interludes throughout King & I.

Lovin You for Life (feat. Lil' Kim)

Since their public love triangle and feud in the '90s, Evans has buried the hatchet with Biggie's mentee Lil' Kim. She asked the Magic Stick rapper about collaborating last year, on an emotional song that uses Biggie's Miss U. "I told her, 'I want you to talk about how you really felt about him. You don't have to be politically correct,' " Evans says. "We are coming together to talk about this man that we both loved and I thought it was important to be woman enough to (be honest). It's OK. It's well-documented. I don’t hold any hard feelings, so I thought that was really dope."

Legacy

On this single, Evans sings about their three-year relationship over Biggie's Would You Die For Me?, which is taken off his first posthumous album, 1999's Born Again. "If this album were to have a title song, it would be Legacy," Evans says. "It’s an extension of my job and my duty to extend his legacy. The fact that I’m able to do this record and talk about our love, our experiences and that anybody even cares about it, that represents a legacy. That’s a really special song and people seem to be receiving it well, too."