Biggie Smalls, also known as “The Notorious B.I.G.,” is a respected hip-hop artist who was the face of East Coast gangster music. On March 9, 1997, he was shot and killed.
Who was Biggie Smalls?
Christopher Wallace, also known as Biggie Smalls or the Notorious B.I.G., lived a short and unhappy life. He was only 24 years old when he was shot to death in Los Angeles in 1997. This was a crime that had never been solved. Smalls, a New Yorker, had nearly single-handedly remade East Coast hip-hop.
Dr. Dre and Death Row Records overtook him. Smalls’ clear, powerful baritone, easy flow on the mic, and willingness to talk about the vulnerability and harshness of the hustler lifestyle drew attention back towards New York City and Bad Boy Records, his home label.
Although he claimed to be a gangster, he was more of a performer than an incarcerated criminal. He was similar to Tupac Shariq, his former friend and bitter rival. The contest spiraled out of control, leaving neither man alive.
Christopher George Latore Wallace was born in Brooklyn, New York, on May 21, 1972. Both his parents were Jamaican immigrants. His mom Voletta was a preschool teacher and his dad, Selwyn, was an electrician and a local politician from Jamaica. Selwyn, who was only two years old, left the family. Voletta took two jobs to send Biggie to Roman Catholic Bishop Loughlin Memorial School.
Alumni include Rudy Giuliani as well as former Primark C.E.O. Arthur Ryan. Biggie transferred to George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education high school; alumni include D.M.X., Jay Z, and Busta Rhymes. Biggie was an English prodigy, but he often played truant at Westinghouse. He dropped out at 17 years old.
His mother nicknamed him “Big” because of his large girth. In 1994, he worked the streets near his mom on St. James Place and earned the nickname. Voletta worked hard and was unaware of her son’s activities. After leaving school, Biggie began to sell drugs and soon found himself in serious trouble with the law.
After being charged with weapons possession, Biggie was sentenced to five-year probation. He was also arrested the following year for violating his probation, arrested for dealing cocaine in North Carolina the year following. He spent nine months in prison while awaiting bail.
Scott “Zimmer,” Zimmerman, and Naoufal’ Rocko’ Alaoui’s mural featured Biggie Smalls in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.
Bad Boy Records
Biggie started rapping when he was a teenager to entertain his neighbors. After escaping prison, he recorded a demo tape named Biggie Smalls. This was named after a gang leader in the 1975 film Let’s Do It Again. Also, a nod towards his childhood nickname.
He didn’t have any plans to make a career out of music. “It was just fun just hearing me on tape over beats,” said he later in an Arista Records biography. But the tape made it to the source magazine.
They were so impressed with Biggie that they published a profile of him in their March 1992 Unsigned Hype column. Biggie was then invited to record alongside other unsigned rappers. Sean Combs worked at Uptown Records as an A&R executive, producer, and editor. He started as an intern there in 1990.
Combs was able to arrange a record deal with Biggie, but he left the label shortly after. He had a falling out with his boss Andre Harrell. Combs started Bad Boy Records, and Biggie was there by mid-1992.
Uptown had previously released music that Biggie recorded while at Bad Boy. This included a remix of Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love” from August 1992, which featured a verse by The Notorious B.I.G. He had to change his recording title after a lawsuit, but he was still known as Biggie. The label released “Party and Bullshit,” The Notorious BIG’s first solo single, in June 1993.
Friendship with Tupac
Biggie Smalls first met Tupac in the same year he was working on his debut album. The story of their encounter is detailed in Ben Westhoff’s book Original Gangstas. It took place at a party hosted by an L.A. drug dealer. They ate, drank, and smoked together.
Tupac, an already successful recording artist, gave Biggie, who was then unknown outside of New York, a bottle of Hennessy. Biggie was mentored by Tupac whenever they met — Biggie even asked Tupac if he would be his manager. Tupac said, “Nah. Stay with Puff.”
He will make you a superstar.” Biggie was especially concerned about money at that time, as he became a father to T’yanna, T’yanna’s daughter, and his high school sweetheart Jan. According to some reports, Biggie returned to drug dealing around this time. Combs discovered what he was doing and forced him to stop.
“Ready to Die”
The Notorious B.I.G. Bad Boy released’s debut album in September 1994. It came a month after “Juicy,” his first single for the label. The album Ready to Die was certified gold in two months. It went on to be double-platinum and then quadruple-platinum. The second single, “Big Poppa,” was one of the album’s four tracks.
It was nominated in the Grammy category for best rap solo performance. Ready to Die marked a resurgence in East Coast hip hop, and Biggie was widely acclaimed for the narrative ability he displayed on the album’s semi-autobiographical tales from his wayward youth. He sang “Birthdays” and “Now we drink champagne when we thirst-ay.” Biggie didn’t sugarcoat his drug-dealer lifestyle.
The album’s last track, “Suicidal Thoughts,” was a plea for help. Sean Combs explained to the New York Times, “In street life, you’re not allowed show if you care about something.” You have to keep your head straight. This album is the flip side. He is letting go of all his vulnerability.
Biggie wed Faith Evans on August 4, 1994, in the lead-up to Ready to Die. After meeting at a photo shoot, they were married within days. Evans was featured on “One More Chance,” their fourth single from Ready to Die. It reached No. It reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and was certified platinum. On October 29, 1996, she gave birth to Christopher Wallace Jr.
Feud With Tupac
The most important date in Biggie’s rollercoaster year was November 30, 1994. The day Tupac was gunned down five times in New York’s recording studio lobby robbery was November 30, 1994. Tupac survived but believed Biggie’s label boss Combs orchestrated the attack.
The B-side of Biggie’s hit single “Big Poppa,” released two months later, contained the song “Who Shot Ya?” This was how Tupac interpreted it as Biggie taunting, and he released an explosive diss track, “Hit ‘Em Up,” the next year.
On it, he claimed to have slept together with Biggie’s wife. She would later tell MTV about the incident many years later, in 2014. She said Tupac once had sex with her after a recording session. “But that ain’t how I do business,” she stated.
Biggie Smalls attended the 1995 Billboard Music Awards in New York City on December 6, 1995
Biggie and Michael Jackson: More Legal Problems
Biggie’s next album was released on August 29, 1995, as part of the Junior MAFIA group (an acronym for Masters at Finding Intelligent Attitudes). The group was created to mentor young rappers, including Lil’ Kim.
He would also have an affair with them. He also collaborated with Michael Jackson that year on “This Time Around.” According to legend, Biggie was 16 when he was called to the studio to record with Jackson.
Cease claims that Biggie wouldn’t allow him to meet the King Of Pop because he wasn’t comfortable with children. Biggie also appeared on R. Kelly’s eponymous album and is featured on the song “(You To Be) Be Happy.” The Notorious B.I.G. had sold over a million copies by 1995’s end. The Notorious B.I.G. was Billboard’s biggest-selling solo male artist in hip-hop and in, pop and R&B.
Biggie started work on his second studio album in September 1995. He continued to do so until the end of 1995. But it was not over. He was arrested in March 1996 after chasing down two autograph hunters in Manhattan with a baseball bat. He was sentenced to 100 hours of community service.
Police raided his New Jersey home and found 50 grams and four automatic weapons. He was also charged with robbing and beating a friend of a concert promoter in a New Jersey nightclub. In the fall, he was again arrested for using marijuana in his Brooklyn car.
Death of Tupac
His former friend Tupac was gunned down in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996. Although no one has been charged with the crime, many believe East Coast rap kingpins murdered Tupac. (Both Biggie & Puffy have repeatedly denied any involvement. However, other suspects have been identified.
Biggie said, “It’s funny, I kinda realized how powerful Tupac was, and I was,” to Jim Bean after the death of his great rival. “We were two individuals, and we waged a coast beef war.
I know what I’m talking about. One man against one made the whole West Coast hate the whole East Coast. Vice versa. That bothered me. . .Like you, the dude doesn’t like my stuff, so his entire coast doesn’t like it.
He doesn’t like me, so his whole coast doesn’t like me. It showed me how strong I am. What I am trying to do is to flip it. Take my power to flip it. Pac can’t squash it because he is gone. “So I have to take the weight from both.
Biggie didn’t live to enjoy the peace that he desired. He was shot to death in the early hours of March 9, 1997. He was just minutes away from a Vibe party at the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
Biggie was riding in his S.U.V. with Lil’ Cease and a bodyguard when he waited at a red signal. A vehicle pulled up beside it, and a gunman opened fire. Biggie’s bodyguard ran to him, but it was too late.
Biggie Smalls’ death would not be solved, just like Tupac. There would not be closure. Like Tupac, Biggie would also release a posthumous double album, but in Biggie’s instance, it would be released a mere two weeks after his death.
Bad Boy released spooky Life After Death on March 25, 1997. The album featured collaborations with PuffDaddy, JayZ, and 112, as well as R Kelly, Mase, and Angela Winbush.
It was nominated for three Grammy Awards: best rap album, best solo performance, and best duo/group performance for “Hypnotize.” This single featured PuffDaddy and Mase. After selling over 10 million copies, the album was certified as a diamond in 2000.
Many hip-hop fans saw his death as a titt-for-tat murder. Biggie continued the beef from the grave with the song “Long Kiss Goodnight.” According to the lyrics, it was about Tupac’s shooting in New York. According to XXL hip-hop magazine, it is likely that the song was recorded before Tupac’s murder.
No matter the truth of Biggie’s story, it ended the East Coast/West Coast rap feud. Things were getting out of control. Two of the most influential rappers to ever take up a microphone are gone. Hip-hop had lost its reputation. There was no need for more.
Biggie’s funeral service occurred at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel, Manhattan, on March 18, 1997. 350 people attended, including Lil Kim and, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah. Other guests included Lil Kim, Mary J. Blige (Lil Kim), Mary J. Blige and Run D.M.C., Busta Rhymes, Foxy Brown, Busta Rhymes, and other prominent artists. Biggie was laid in an open mahogany casket and wore a white suit. His remains were cremated after the service.
In a farewell drive-by for the Brooklyn native, funeral cars filled with flowers pay tribute to Biggie Smalls make their way down St. James Place. This street is where his mother lives.
Biggie Smalls was not the only one who had heard of him. Puff Daddy’s 1997 album No way Out featured him on five songs. One of the songs from the album, “I’ll be Missing You,” was dedicated to Biggie’s memory.
It won the Grammy for best duo or group rap performance in 1998. Ironically, it beat Biggie, whose song “Mo Money Mo Problems” was also nominated in that category.
Two more albums were released using previously unreleased material — Born Again was released in 1999, and Duets: The Final Chapter was released in 2005. They featured a host guest, including Eminem and Jay-Z. Also, the bizarre Bob Marley from beyond the grave.
Jamal Woolard, a comedian, rapper, and actor, played Biggie in a 2009 biopic that grossed $44million worldwide. The movie sparked a row between Faith Evans (the actor) and Lil’ Kim (the rapper), who were upset by her portrayal. They have since reconciled, and Kim was featured on an album of duets featuring Smalls and Evans, the King and I.
Kim stated, “at the end of the day, we’re all family, regardless of our feelings,” in 2016, just before Evans and she went on tour. “I am part of the estate. She is part of the estate. We are both parts of Big and share many things in common. We realized how strong together we could be.
He was featured in a 2017 A&E documentary called Biggie: A Life of Notorious B.I.G. This documentary highlighted his impact beyond hip-hop, and he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in January 2020.
Are Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac friends?
These men were very close. Biggie would come over to Tupac’s house and have him sleep on his couch. Tupac knew that Biggie was actually out there rapping and was not just a regular guy. He loved that Biggie was a talented lyricist and wordsmith.
Who got biggies money?
Why did Notorious B.I.G. stop using the name Biggie Smalls?
Biggie Smalls was named after a 1975 movie, ‘Let’s Do it Again.’ In that film, Biggie Smalls was the leader of a gang. Calvin Lockhart played him. Lockhart was soon sued and Biggie had to change his name to Notorious B.I.G.
How old was the Notorious B.I.G. when he died?
Why did 2Pac think Biggie shot him?
It was all 2Pac. He believed that Biggie was the one who had set up the initial shooting, but that was as Biggie was upstairs recording when it took place. Biggie said that he had nothing to do with it in numerous interviews.
Why did 2Pac and Biggie fall out?
Although there were some minor controversies between Biggie and Tupac, their first major fallout occurred when they were set to collaborate on a project for Little Shawn. Tupac believed Biggie was involved in the 1994 gun down.
Did Biggie sleep on Tupac’s couch?
Biggie was gifted a bottle of Hennessy by Tupac. Biggie used to sleep on Tupac’s couch when he returned from California. When Tupac was in New York, Biggie stopped by Biggie’s house in White Limousine and played dice with the residents.
Who is Biggie’s wife?
Biggie was married to Faith Renée Evans from 1994-1997. Faith Renee Evans is an American singer. She was born in Lakeland in Florida and raised in New Jersey. In 1991, she moved to Los Angeles to a career as a musician.
Who is worth more Tupac or Biggie?
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Tupac did not have any real assets other than two cars and a life insurance policy. He also had a checking account that had $100,000. Notorious B.I.G. was thus worth more than Tupac at the time of his death, which is estimated at $10 million.
What is Biggie Smalls daughter net worth?
Celebrity Net Worth reports T’yanna Wallace has a net worth of $20,000,000.
What is the real name of Tupac?
Tupac Shakur in his full Tupac Amaru, originally named Lesane Parish Crooks and bynames 2Pac, Makaveli), was an American rapper and actor. He was born June 16, 1971, in Brooklyn, New York.
Who is considered the father of rap?
SIMON: Gil Scott Heron’s pointed words punctured American consumer culture and racial inequalities. His lyrics were a major influence on hip-hop artists, who referred to him as one of the “godfathers” of rap.
Who shot Tupac Shakur?
Philips stated that the shooting was done by the Southside Crips, a Compton gang to revenge Shakur’s beating of one of their members. Orlando Anderson was the Crip who Shakur had attacked and fired the fatal shots.
Who owns the rights to Biggie music?
During the Lox’s Hot 97 interview Lil Cease called in to say that Diddy purchased Biggie’s publishing for $200K. Biggie was broke despite his gold hit with “Juicy.” Cease later discredited Cease’s account. However, it seems that Diddy still owns Biggie’s publishing.