With songs like “Juicy”, “Big Poppa/Warning” and the classic “One More Chance”, Biggie has made a permanent mark on the music world and worked with the biggest names in the music business. Raised in humble beginnings with a gift at a young age, one could even go as far as saying he was born for hip-hop
The Notorious B.I.G. was born Christopher G.L. Wallace on May 21, 1972 in Brooklyn. He was the only child of Voletta Wallace, a single mother. Wallace remembers her son singing and talking before he could walk and writing before he could go to school.
While growing up in Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant, young Christopher was pulled into two different directions. He had dreams of becoming a graphic artist and was an honor student in school. He also had the pressure from the young men in the neighborhood who were known for being junior outlaws.
He became known as “Big Chris” in his neighborhood and could often be found at the corner of his block throwing a nice dice game.
But he was known for more than that.
He could rhyme. He was known for showing up at local house parties, rhyming and being able to perform as if he had been doing that for years. Biggie entered the “Unsigned Hype” competition that “The Source Magazine” held every year and sent a tape that he made with Big Daddy Kane’s DJ, Mister Cee.
The tape was forwarded to Bad Boy founder and CEO, Sean “Puffy” Combs. Combs, who was looking for a hardcore rapper, was blown away and wanted to meet him.
Just weeks after signing him, Combs put him to work with Mary J. Blige, Super cat and Neneh Cherry on remixes. “Party and Bullshit,” a club anthem from the 1989 soundtrack “Who’s The Man?” made him even more popular.
By September 1994, the word spread about Notorious B.I.G.’s debut record, “Ready To Die” was huge.
“Ready To Die,” with its honest first-person narrative and writing that raised standards for other artists is thought by many to have changed hip-hop. The album was a success. His first single, “Juicy” went gold within weeks and by the end of the year the album went triple platinum.
In June 1995, his third single, “One More Chance” debuted at number five on the pop singles chart, which tied Michael Jackson’s “Scream/Childhood” as the highest debuting single of all time.
With all of this success, The Notorious B.I.G. became an icon of hip-hop.
Going back to his Brooklyn roots, Biggie then pushed friends Li’l Kim and Li’l Cease into the spotlight and formed Junior M.A.F.I.A. (which stood for Junior Masters At Finding Intelligent Attitudes).The crew’s record, “Conspiracy,” went gold in 1995 and Li’l Kim’s solo album “Hardcore” went platinum in 1996.
By this time, The Notorious B.I.G. was a rap institution.
At the 1995 Source Music Awards, he won three awards including “Best New Artist”. At the Billboard Music Awards the same year he won “Single of the Year” for the single “Big Poppa”. He also won Billboard’s “R&B Album of the Year” in 1997, a MTV Music Award for “Best Rap Video” and two ASCAP awards.
New York embraced him and Biggie became an ambassador like personality in Brooklyn. His success reached beyond the tri-state area and bridged regional gaps and unified hip-hop audiences across the country, if at least for a while.
It also let his children have a secure future and irreversibly changed his life, but not without a price.
March 9 in the early morning, The Notorious B.I.G. was returning to his hotel in Los Angeles after a Soul Train Award party when another car pulled up next to his GMC Suburban and shot four times through the side door where he was sitting. He lost consciousness and dies while going to the hospital.
The Notorious B.I.G.’s public funeral was anything but peaceful, but the private funeral was more cordial, with guests like Queen Latifah and members from Public Enemy and Naughty by Nature.
His second album, “Life After Death” was released mere weeks after his death and provided a way for his fans to celebrate his life. The album debuted at number one breaking records and remaining on the charts for months with the singles, “Mo Money, Mo Problems” and “Sky’s The Limit.”
Spin magazine named him “Artist of the Year” and that honor was also bestowed on other critics’ lists. “Life After Death” sold ten times platinum and dominated radio and jeep rotations for two years.
Christopher G.L. Wallace was one of the greatest rappers of all time and is a legend himself. He is survived by his wife and two children. Even today, more people want to learn about him. Biggie might be gone, but his memory will always be alive. The murder investigation is still active and there have been no arrests in the murder.