Today marks the 18th anniversary of the death of Christopher George Latore Wallace, better known as “The Notorious B.I.G.”
Raised in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, Wallace grew up during the peak years of the 1980s crack epidemic and started dealing drugs at an early age. When Wallace released his debut album with the 1994 record Ready to Die, he was a central figure in the East Coast hip hop scene and increased New York’s visibility at a time when West Coast artists were more common in the mainstream. The following year, Wallace led his childhood friends to chart success through his protégé group, Junior M.A.F.I.A.. While recording his second album, Wallace was heavily involved in the East Coast–West Coast hip hop feud, dominating the scene at the time.
On March 9, 1997, Wallace was killed by an unknown assailant in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles. His double-disc set Life After Death, released fifteen days later, hit #1 on the U.S. album charts and was certified Diamond in 2000. Wallace was noted for his “loose, easy flow”, dark semi-autobiographical lyrics and storytelling abilities. Since his death, a further two albums have been released. MTV ranked him at #3 on their list of The Greatest MCs of All Time.
I had the opportunity to see BIG perform at a hole-in-the-wall club in Camden, NJ in 1994. It was right after the Ready To Die album had dropped and “Juicy” was blazing in the streets. BIG arrived about 2AM wearing a sweatsuit and a Kangol, jumped on the mic immediately, and kicked off his set with his verse from “Can’t You See” (Total). The clubgoers spit word for word with him as if it were a sing-a-long. When the crowd started singing the vocals BIG interrupted and said “Hol’up…hol’up! Them b*tches ain’t here…this is MY show!” The club went nuts!
An exceptional talent…gone too soon! We miss and love you, BIG!
“The greatest rapper of all-time died on March 9th.” – Canibus