Rest In Peace – The Notorious B.I.G. 3/9/1997:
Christopher George Latore Wallace was born into this world on May 21st 1972 and taken away from us at the young age of 24. It has been 19 years since the fateful day on March 9th when Biggie was murdered on Wilshire Blvd & South Fairfax in Los Angeles. While he was alive and after death, Biggie made a huge impact on the hip-hop industry. He was brought up in the Brooklyn borough as an only child to a Jamaican preschool teacher Voletta Wallace, and a welder and small time Jamaican politician Selwyn George Latore. Voletta worked 2 jobs in order to raise her son since Selwyn left when Christopher was just 2 years old. He was dubbed “BIG” in school at a young age due to his size, but he was a very smart student and started dealing drugs at the age of 12. When he transferred to George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School he was in the same halls as future stars DMX, Busta Rhymes and Jay-Z. He dropped out when he was 17 and got arrested on weapons charges. The charges came with 5 years probation which he ended up violating and being arrested again for. Next he was arrested in North Carolina for dealing crack cocaine and spent 9 months in jail. He dropped a demo tape upon his release and went by the name Biggie Smalls. The tape was promoted by DJ Mister Cee and made its way to The Source. The Source produced a column called unsigned Hype and featured Wallace which grabbed the attention of Sean Combs. Biggie immediately signed to Uptown but Puffy was fired not long after. Combs started up Bad Boy Records and Biggie singed with him in 1992. He was still funding much of his income from drug sales and when Puffy found out he played a big part in having Big quit, especially after he had his first child T’yanna. When Mary J Blige dropped a remix to “Real Love” Biggie got in on the action under his new name The Notorious B.I.G.. The song received attention and even peaked at #7 on the HOT Billboard 100. It wasn’t until June 29th 1993 when we got the first debut single “Party and Bullshit” off the “Who’s the Man” soundtrack. Next year he blew up again on “Flava in Ya Ear” remixed by Craig Mack with LL Cool J & Busta Rhymes which peaked at #9 on the HOT Billboard 100.
The same year he married Faith Evans and dropped his debut album “Ready to Die”. The album went 4X platinum with hit singles that still are played in heavy rotation to this day-“Juicy”, “Big Poppa” and “One More Chance”. These timeless singles were encouraged by Puffy to have a more commercial vibe, while Big still kept it street. Around this time he formed a friendship with Tupac and the two would often travel together and Big would frequently come to Pacs house and chill. Next he formed Junior Mafia in August of 1995 which stood for Junior Masters At Finding Intelligent Attitudes which consisted of childhood friends Lil’ Kim & Lil’ Cease. “Get Money” and “Player’s Anthem” both featured Biggie and were certified gold and platinum. Next he tossed down on a couple of 112 songs on the tracks “Only You” and “Can’t You See”. The King of New York
was taking over, as stated by the cover of the Source magazine that he posed for in July 1995. Big also won Best New Solo Artist, Lyricist of the Year, Live Performer of the Year, and Debut Album of the Year at the Source awards in 1995 along with being crowned Rap Artist of the Year at the Billboard Awards. Tupac was shot 5 times and robbed on November 20th 1994 at a Manhattan recording studio when Big and his crew were at the same studio when the crime occurred. Pac always claimed that Combs, Big and Uptown Record’s founder Andre Harrell were all aware of the robbery. Tupac soon signed with Death Row Records in Oct 1995 which began the rivalry between them and Bad Boy. He began recording his sophomore album in September 1995 in New York, Trinidad & Los Angeles, but would hit a few road bumps before being able to complete it. Biggie pled guilty to second-degree harassment for threatening to kill 2 autograph seekers outside a Manhattan nightclub. He smashed the windows to their taxi cab and dragged one of them out of the cab while punching him. This resulted in 100 hours of community service, but he didn’t learn his lesson and was soon arrested again at his house in Teaneck NJ for drug and gun possession.
On June 4th 1996 “Hit ‘Em Up” was dropped by Tupac which was a dis toward BIG claiming he slept with Faith Evans and that Big copied his style and image. While Tupac came hard at him Biggie didn’t directly respond saying it wasn’t his style to write back. Just 3 months later on September 7th in Las Vegas Shakur was a victim of a drive by shooting resulting in his death 6 days later. Biggie was a suspect immediately after even though sources say it was done by a Compton gang,The Southside Crips, who were retaliating for a beating Tupac laid on one of their members hours earlier. The next month on October 29th Faith Evans gave birth Big’s second child to Christopher “C.J.” Wallace. In Nov Lil’ Kim dropped her debut album “Hard Core” which Big played a major part in since the two were having an affair. Kim was supposed to work with Jodeci on a remix to “Love U 4 Life” but Biggie shut her down from doing so based upon the close ties they had with Death Row and Tupac. In 1997 Big started recordings for his second album which at the time was called “Life After Death…’Til Death Do Us Part” but soon after starting he was in a car accident with Lil’ Cease which shattered his left leg and left him in a wheelchair temporarily. That same month Biggie was ordered to pay $41,000 to a concert promoter who was beat up by him and his entourage in May 1995. The following month Biggie went on a trip to Los Angeles to promote his second album which was now changed to just “Life After Death” and film a video for “Hypnotize” the lead single.
On March 7th at the Soul Train Music Awards in LA Biggie presented an award to Toni Braxton but was booed by some of the audience. He then went to an after party hosted by Vibe magazine and Qwest Records which was held at the Petersen Automotive Museum. He partied with Faith, Aaliyah, Diddy along members of the Bloods and Crips. Big left the event around 12:30 AM and stopped at a street light on Wilshire Blvd & South Fairfax Ave just 50 yards from the museum. A dark colored Impala SS pulled up next to him and a black male with a blue suit & bow tie opened fire on him with a 9mm blue-steel pistol striking him 4 times. It was the 4th shot that was the fatal one entering Biggie in his right hip, striking his colon, liver, heart and left lung before stopping in his left shoulder. He was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on March 9th @ 1:15 am. The key suspect was a crip member acting for personal finances but the murder still remains a mystery. Christopher George Latore Wallace’s funeral was held on March 19th 1997 with many music stars showing their respect including Busta Rhymes, Foxy Brown, Lil Kim, Mary J. Blige, Flava Flav, Run-D.M.C., DJ Kool Herc, Salt-N-Pepa, Spinderella and Queen Latifah. His body was cremated and just 16 days after his death “Life After Death” was released and was #1 on the Billboard charts. In 2000 the album was certified Diamond which is the highest honor the RIAA has ever awarded to a solo hip hop album. It no surprise with producing hits that still get rotation on hip hop stations such as “Hypnotize”, “Mo Money Mo problems” and “Sky’s The Limit”.
He also dropped in on 5 songs off Puff Daddy’s debut album “No Way Out” which dropped mid-1997 and featured ‘Victory” along with “I’ll Be Missing You”. Biggie got much love at the 1998 Grammy Awards receiving a number of nominations. The end of the next year Puffy and Bad Boy dropped “Born Again” where they paired old recorded Biggie verses with new beats and guest artists. Even though the album was certified Double-platinum it still received mixed reviews, but in the end wasn’t anything that would change his high role in hip hop. The legacy of his style will continue to cause arguments with hip hop heads. His style has been described in many ways saying he raps with a deep tone, thick jaunty grumble with intense and complex flows. He is a master of the flow and all the hemispheres of the music, he can make multi-syllabic rhyme sound smooth, modify his style to match rhyme flows from others in certain songs. He can put words together in a slick way and could compose lyrics in his head without writing them out. His topics included Mafioso tales, drug dealing, materialistic bragging along with his humor and romance.
“Ready to Die” featured tracks full of high spirited fun and tracks that had a sense of doom that were laced with paranoia. The album even ended with “Suicidal Thoughts” in which he offs himself at the end while Puffy tries to talk him out of it. “Life After Death” went deeper with his lyrics and was dubbed as reality rap. He revamped his image between albums going from a lower level hustler to a drug lord and fully developed his talent as a storyteller. A prime example of this is “I Got a Story to Tell” where his creativeness is at its highest as he raps a story for the first half of the song, and the second half he is having a conversation with his boys while re-telling the same story. The Notorious B.I.G. always makes an appearance on every chart or pole that is looking for the “best” hip hop artists of all time. Rolling Stones, the Source, AllMusic, XXL, MTV, About.com & Billboard have all ranked him as one of the greatest of all times. He has been praised as the savior of East Coast hip-hop & labeled as the most skillful MC’s ever on the mic.
BACK IN THE DAY STAFF FAVORITES
Gimme Me The Loot
I Got a Story To Tell
Party & Bullshit
Kick In The Door
10 Crack Commandments
Who Shot Ya
Notorious Thugs With Bone Thugs & Harmony,
The What With Method Man
The Wickedest (Mister Cee Freestyle)