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Tuesday, March 10, 2009


The Brooklyn-born rapper the Notorious B.I.G. (born Chris Wallace) first gained attention for his work on Mary J. Blige's "What's the 411?".

THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G. blasted his way onto the hip-hop scene with his platinum-selling album Ready To Die, and entered the mainstream public's eye in much the same way when he was murdered in March of 1997. Until his death, B.I.G., a.k.a. Biggie Smalls, nй Christopher Wallace, was virtually unknown outside the world of hip-hop. But news of his death fueled intensive media coverage of an East Coast-West Coast rap war, rallied hip-hop artists from both coasts, and left two young children without a father. The 6'3", 280-pound Wallace was only twenty-four years old.

Raised in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant as the son of a pre-school teacher, young honor-roll student Wallace dropped out of high school at the age of seventeen to sell crack. Although his mother insists that "he didn't need to sell crack. He never went hungry," Wallace contended that "crack dealers were my role models." Whatever his reasons, dealing was a way for a young black man to make a living in the ghetto. Of course, his career choice involved certain risks, not all of which paid off: one drug-exchange trip to North Carolina ended with a nine-month stay behind bars.

Wallace had plenty of time to think during his prison term, but becoming a millionaire musician was still in the realm of fantasy. Still, after his release, the young man borrowed a friend's four-track tape recorder and laid down some basic rap tracks in a basement. The tapes that he came up with were passed around until they landed in the hands of Andre Harrell, president of Uptown Records, who was impressed with what he heard. Also at Uptown at the time was the East Coast version of Death Row's Marion "Suge" Knight, Sean "Puffy" Combs. When he left Uptown to form Bad Boy Records, B.I.G. went with him. B.I.G. first made a name for himself with a remix of Mary J. Blige's "What's the 411?" and a track on the Who's the Man? soundtrack. But it was the 1994 album Ready To Die, that pushed him to the forefront of the hip-hop scene. The record quickly went platinum, and the Notorious B.I.G. was named Rapper of the Year at the 1995 Billboard Awards. Rolling Stone called the record the best rap debut since Ice Cube's Amerikkka's Most Wanted.

Ready To Die differed from other gangsta rap efforts in its matter-of-fact storytelling of life on the street, with B.I.G. acting as a kind of omniscient narrator. The entire album was held together by his unique perspective; rather than glamorizing violence with the telltale first-person bravado of many rappers, B.I.G. sought to tell the truth, and his deep voice and deeper tales earned him the respect of his fellow artists. The single "Big Poppa" landed him another nickname, and "One More Chance" was named Billboard's Rap Single of the Year.

But despite his new reign as a successful rap artist, B.I.G. had not completely left his former life behind. Over the next few years, he had several run-ins with the law, on charges ranging from beatings to drugs to weapons. In 1994, he and Combs were accused of setting up the November robbery-shooting of Tupac Shakur, a charge both of them vehemently denied. (Shakur later mocked B.I.G. in a song, claiming to have slept with Faith Evans, the R&B singer B.I.G. married shortly after the release of Ready To Die.)

This "Beef" with Westcoast rapper Tupac Shakur would continue escallading out of control resulting in a feud between Eastcoast and Westcoast rap, Biggie released a few songs calling Tupac. But Tupac retalliated in a dramatic way, in the believe Biggie knew who shot Tupac in 1994 and kept this from him, and also the fact that Tupac believed Biggies first album "Ready To Die" was a re-written version of his own unreleased album. In most of Tupac's future releases he lyrically slays B.I.G, his Bad Boy entourage, and East Coast rap in general, with even whole songs dedicated to rippin tha fuk out of Biggie Smalls and Puffy Combs, such as "Hit Em Up" and "Bad Boy Killaz". This beef would continue to grow until in my mind, it caused the death of both artists involved, as well as many others on the different sides.

After one of his concerts was canceled in 1995, B.I.G. and his entourage allegedly beat up a promoter when it turned out the man didn't have the rapper's promised fee. Later the same year, as he and a friend were leaving the Palladium in New York, a crowd of photograph-seekers harassed them, and after some words were exchanged, two of them hopped in a cab to flee. B.I.G. and the friend followed, caught up with the cab, and took baseball bats to the windows and occupants.

B.I.G. kept extremely busy in the years between his two albums. He carried on a very public affair with Kim Jones, a.k.a. L'il Kim, and went on to produce her album Hardcore. He also appeared on R.Kelly's debut album and shared studio time with the King of Pop himself, appearing on Michael Jackson's HIStory. Along with Sticky Fingers and M.C. Lyte, the portly rapper even played himself on an episode of the TV show New York Undercover.

All that ended in March of 1997 in Los Angeles. B.I.G. was on the West Coast for several events, doing advance press for his next release, Life After Death . . . 'Til Death Do Us Part. On March 9, he attended the Soul Train Music Awards and the party that followed. After the bash, B.I.G. was sitting in a G.M.C. Suburban on the street when he was shot several times by an unknown assailant. He died almost instantly.

Theories abound about B.I.G.'s death, the most popular being that the incident was part of the East Coast-West Coast feud between rappers, and that B.I.G.'s murder was payback for the September killing of Tupac Shakur. There had been a buzz around L.A. that the local rap community was unhappy with the high-profile presence B.I.G. had taken on while on their turf, and that the Soul Train Awards appearance was the capper. Another theory gaining prominence is that the murderer was part of a gang that B.I.G. had hired to protect him on his left-coast trip, and that the banger felt he'd been short-changed by the rapper on a past deal. Although the official report reads that the shooting was a drive-by, some accounts say that a man approached the car, talked with B.I.G., and then shot him as he rolled down the window. Several off-duty police officers were working security for Wallace at the time, yet none could provide any concrete evidence of the crime or its perpetrator. Los Angeles police have released a sketch of the suspect, but no arrests have been made.

B.I.G.'s murder thrust the so-called "rap war" into the national spotlight and created a call for peace from all sides. Rappers from both coasts, including Snoop Doggy Dogg, Chuck D, and Doug E. Fresh attended a summit held by Louis Farrakhan in Chicago, pledging their support for a unity pact that would include a joint peace tour and an album. Puffy Combs was unable to attend but sent his support, as did Ice-T and Ice Cube. Cube also canceled two shows he had scheduled in L.A. out of respect for the slain rapper. "Stop the Gunfight," a single recorded several years ago that featured both Tupac and B.I.G. was released soon after, and Puffy Combs put together a tribute album that included a single with both B.I.G. and Faith Evans. May 14 was declared Notorious B.I.G. Day, with over two hundred radio stations nationwide playing the single, followed by a thirty-second moment of silence.

The Notorious B.I.G.'s public funeral, however, was anything but peaceful. Thousands flooded into his Brooklyn neighborhood to catch a glimpse of his hearse, jumping on cars and clashing with police; ten people were arrested. A private funeral held earlier was more cordial, with Queen Latifah and members of Public Enemy and Naughty by Nature in attendance. The casket was open from the waist up, and the rapper had been fitted in a double-breasted white suit and matching hat. A week later, the double-CD Life After Death hit the streets, landing at the top of the charts, where it remained for three weeks.

The next release from the now deceased Biggie Smalls was entitled "Born Again". This is my eyes was a dissapointment for such a long awaited drop. Unfortunately Big didn’t leave 7 albums worth of new material when he died, like 2Pac. Born Again is clearly a stretch to put together the remaining Big material. It’s really a hodge-podge of featuring type songs. There is some Biggie on each song, but on some it’s a shamefully small amount.

Even so, we can’t complain. The last CD ever by Notorious is flat out cool. It has a lot of good songs on it and it features some of his best rapping and lyrical prowess ever. New styles are explored and new levels of senseless violence are reached. Biggie, of course, illustrates a robbery gone violently wrong better than any rapper ever to pick up a mic. The album reaches such a crescendo of violence, homophobia, and sex in “Dead Wrong” that it becomes flat out hilarious. “When I get dusted/I love to spread the blood like mustard” is a line that will live in infamy forever. This song is completely raw deal and is one of my all time favorites. While I singled out ‘blood like mustard” I could have picked any of the lines. This receives my rating for most violent song ever. It achieves greatness through brash testosterone.

There is also a very memorable collaboration with Cube and another wish Cash Money Records. Hearing Cube and Biggie on the same track is just weird and the Cash Money track (while pushing BIG to his limits) just bangs. ”Tonight”, “Notorious B.I.G.”, and “Niggas” are all worth a good listen as well. The cd lacks a good continuous flow, but that doesn’t mean that it lacks good tracks.

However, it is not in the same category with “Ready to Die” or “Life After Death”. Those CD’s have an overall pervading theme. They speak about ghetto life, death, and there is a lot of Biggie in them. This is really a messy list of half-assed tracks. There is success here, but it’s not lp success, it’s hit track success. The mix of absolutely shitty tracks in with the good ones betrays the circumstances under which this was produced. I love that we have it but it doesn’t run like a regular Biggie LP, because it simply isn’t.



The Notorious B.I.G. (aka Biggie Smalls) was born Chris Wallace in Brooklyn, NY. In his youth, Biggie spent nine months in prison for selling crack after dropping out of high school. Legal problems (with assaults, drugs, and weapons charges) continued into his emergence as a successful rapper until his death at age 24 in 1997. Biggie's success in music began when his demo made it to the desk of Uptown Records and eventually Sean Combs (aka Puff Daddy) who took Biggie with him to Bad Boy Records. Biggie's notoriety started when he contributed a remix to Mary J. Blige's LP, What's The 411? and a track on the Who's The Man? soundtrack.

August 1994: Biggie topped the Billboard Hot Dance Music Maxi-Singles Sales chart for a week with "Juicy."

September 1994: Biggie's debut release, Ready To Die, was released and established Biggie as a rapping force in the industry. The Notorious B.I.G. hit the Top 40 with "Juicy / Unbelievable."

November 1994: The single "Juicy / Unbelievable" was certified gold and Ready To Die was certified gold. Tupac Shakur (2pac) is shot 4 times during a robbery in New York City: he loses $40K of jewelry, and he says Biggie is involved someway in the shooting.

January 1995: Biggie hit the Top 40 with "Big Poppa." The Notorious B.I.G. topped the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart for 9 weeks with "Big Poppa/Warning."

February 1995: The Notorious B.I.G. topped the Hot Dance Music Maxi-Singles Sales chart for a week with "Big Poppa/Warning." The single "Big Poppa" was certified gold.

March 1995: Biggie hit the Top 10 with "Big Poppa." Ready To Die was certified platinum.

April 1995: The Notorious B.I.G. helped out Total with the Top 40 track "Can't You See."

May 1995: The single "Big Poppa" was certified platinum.

June 1995: The Notorious B.I.G. topped the Billboard Singles Sales chart for 5 weeks, the R&B Singles chart for 9 weeks, the R&B Singles Sales chart for 9 weeks, and the Hot Dance Music Maxi-Singles Sales chart for 5 weeks with "One More Chance/The What." After a few modest hits on the radio, the Notorious B.I.G. crossed over all music platforms in 1995 with his Top 10 song "Big Poppa." The song became Biggie's signature song and was followed up with another Top 10 hit, "One More Chance" (hitting the Top 40 in June). Ready To Die sold over 4 million copies in the U.S. and established Biggie as a premiere hip-hop artist representing the East Coast sound of rap music. Biggie also contributed his rap vocals to hits by many other artists including Total, the Junior M.A.F.I.A., 112, Da Brat, and Lil' Kim. As Biggie's East Coast rap sounds grew in popularity, so did the rivalry between East and West Coast rappers, especially with 2Pac. The Notorious B.I.G. won 2 Billboard Music Awards for Rap Artist of the Year and Rap Single of the Year ("One More Chance").

July 1995: The single "One More Chance" was certified platinum.

August 1995: The Notorious B.I.G. hit the Top 10 with ""One More Chance."

December 1995: The Notorious B.I.G. topped the Billboard Year-End Chart-Toppers as the Top Pop Artist - Male (singles & albums), Top Hot 100 Singles Artist - Male, Top R&B Artist - Male (singles & albums), Top Hot R&B Singles Artist - Male, Top Hot R&B Singles Sales ("One More Chance / Stay With Me"), Top Hot Rap Artist, Top Hot Rap Single ("One More Chance / Stay With Me"), Top Hot Rap Artist - Male, and Top Hot Dance Maxi-Singles Sales Artist. Ready To Die was certified 2x platinum.

Mid 1996: Tupac releases 'Hit Em Up' a scathing diss track aimed at Biggie and the Bad Boy Roster in which he states he slepped with Biggie's wife, Faith Evans.

February 1996: The Notorious B.I.G. helped out the Junior M.A.F.I.A. with "Get Money" and hit the Top 40. The Notorious B.I.G. was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance ("Big Poppa").

June 1996: The Notorious B.I.G. hit the Top 40 helping out 112 with "Only You." When 2Pac was murdered there was much speculation that the Notorious B.I.G.'s camp was involved in some manner. There was often talk that Biggie and Combs may have been involved with a robbery and shooting of 2Pac in 1994.

June 1996: Biggies bitter rival, and ex-friend, Tupac Shakur (2pac) is shot in a drive-by shooting, Las Vegas NV. He dies in hosptial five days later.

January 1997: An arrest warrant was issued for the Notorious B.I.G. in New Jersey after he did not show up to answer assault charges in court. A civil court later ordered Biggie to pay over $40,000 in damages to the man while the criminal charges were pending. The charges stem from a May, 1995 incident with a concert promoter. Additional charges Biggie was facing included charges from 1996 alleged drug and weapons violations and an additional assault charge stemming from a New York City nightclub incident.

9 March 1997: On March 9th, after a party for the Soul Train Awards in Los Angeles, the Notorious B.I.G. was shot and murdered at the age of 24. No one has been arrested for the murder, but some have speculated it might somehow be a retaliation for 2Pac's death. Biggie is survived by his estranged wife, Faith Evans, and 2 children.

18 March 1997: His body is flown to La Guardia Airport, where it travels by limousine motorcade to lie in state (open casket) at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home. And then off to eventual cremation in New Jersey.

March 1997: Three weeks after his death, his second LP was released, ironically titled Life After Death. The LP debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 Albums and R&B Albums charts (where it stayed for 4 weeks).

April 1997: "Hypnotize" topped the Billboard R&B Singles chart for 3 weeks, the Billboard R&B Singles Sales chart for 3 weeks, and the Billboard Rap Singles chart for 7 weeks.

May 1997: The Notorious B.I.G. hit the Top 40 with "Hypnotize." "Hypnotize" topped the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart for 3 weeks and the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Sales chart for 3 weeks. A few weeks later, a tribute to Biggie by his estranged wife, Faith Evans, and producer, Puff Daddy, "I'll Be Missing You," went to #1.

June 1997: "Hypnotize" went Top 10. The single "Hypnotize" was certified platinum.

July 1997: Biggie hit the Top 40 with "Mo Money Mo Problems" with the help of Mase and Puff Daddy.

August 1997: "Mo Money Mo Problems" topped the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart for 2 weeks, the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Sales chart for 4 weeks, the Billboard R&B Singles Airplay chart for 2 weeks, the Billboard Dance Music Maxi-Singles Sales chart for 2 weeks, and the Billboard Rap Singles chart for 4 weeks and hit the Top 10. Life After Death was certified 6x platinum.

September 1997: "Mo Money Mo Problems" (featuring Mase and Puff Daddy) went to #1 for a week and helped Life After Death sell over 10 million copies in the U.S. The Notorious B.I.G. won a MTV Video Music Award for Best Rap Video ("Hypnotize"). The single Mo Money Mo Problems" was certified platinum.

December 1997: Spin magazine deemed The Notorious B.I.G. "Artist Of The Year" for 1997. The editor of the magazine described B.I.G. as a "genuinely fascinating artist, hard and complicated." The slain rapper was also described as " Marvin Gaye or Kurt Cobain, one of those artists who music was suffused with depression and death, but still vibrated in the key of life" by the magazine's senior editor. SoundScan proclaimed The Notorious B.I.G.'s Life After Death the sixth best-selling LP of 1997 - selling over 3.2 million copies in the U.S. The single "Sky's The Limit" was certified gold. The Notorious B.I.G. topped the Billboard Year-End Charts with the Top R&B Album (Life After Death), and as the Top R&B Album Artist and Top R&B Album Artist - Male.

January 1998: Life After Death was certified 7x platinum.

February 1998: Biggie was nominated for 3 Grammy Awards for Best Rap Solo Performance ("Hypnotize"), Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group ("Mo Money Mo Problems" (with Mase and Puff Daddy)), and Best Rap Album (Life After Death). The Notorious B.I.G. won a Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Album, Male (Life After Death) and nominated for Best R&B/Soul Album and Best R&B/Soul or Rap Music Video for "Mo Money Mo Problems" (with Mase and Puff Daddy).

August 1998: Ready To Die was certified 3x platinum.

September 1998: The Notorious B.I.G. was nominated for a MTV Video Music Awards for Best Rap Video ("Mo Money Mo Problems" (with Mase and Puff Daddy).

November 1998: Life After Death was certified 8x platinum.

October 1999: Ready To Die was certified 4x platinum.

December 1999: A collection of previously unreleased material by the Notorious B.I.G., Born Again, was released and debuted at #1 on the Billboard Album chart (where it stayed for 1 week) and Billboard R&B Album chart (for a week). Life After Death was certified 9x platinum. MTV: 100 Greatest Videos Ever Made includes "Mo Money, Mo Problems" at # 23.

January 2000: Born Again was certified 2x platinum and Life After Death was certified 10x platinum.

September 2002: A controversial report from the Los Angeles Times reported that the Notorious B.I.G. was directly linked to the murder of 2Pac, including paying for the hit and supply the weapon. The report states the shooter was paid $1 million and given Biggie's own gun for the hit. Faith Evans responded to the story: "...I remember Big calling me and crying. I know for a fact he was in Jersey. He called me crying because he was in shock. I think it's fair to say he was probably afraid, given everything that was going on at that time and all the hype that was put on this so-called beef that he didn't really have in his heart against anyone."

April 2003: VH1: 50 Greatest Hip Hop Artists includes the Notorious B.I.G. at # 4.

June 2003: VH1: 100 Best Songs of the Past 25 Years includes "Mo Money Mo Problems" at # 58.

July 2003: The Notorious B.I.G. will be heard on the Bad Boys 2 soundtrack with the track "Realest Niggaz."

November 2003: Biggie was featured on the Resurrection soundtrack on the track "Runnin' (Dying To Live)" with 2Pac.

December 2003: Rolling Stone: The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: # 133: Ready To Die, # 483: Life After Death.

2004: # 198 on the Top Pop Artists of the Past 25 Years chart.

December 2005: Another Notorious B.I.G. LP was released - Duets: The Final Chapter, and featured many duets and collaborations.

January 2006: Duets: The Final Chapter topped the Billboard Top Rap Albums chart and Top Digital Albums chart. The Notorious B.I.G. topped the UK singles chart with "Nasty Girl."

February 2006: The Notorious B.I.G. hit the Top 40 with "Nasty Girl." Duets: The Final Chapter was certified platinum.

*Official Affiliated Sites -- [Christopher Wallace Memorial Found'n] -- [Notorious B.I.G.'s clothing line] -- [B.I.G. lawyers website]
-- [Official Aftermath Label Site]

*Other B.I.G Quality Sites



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