Christopher Wallace a.k.a Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls was born on May 21, 1972 in Brooklyn, New York. He was the soon of Jamaican parents, but was raised solely by his mother. Biggie dropped out of high school and began selling drugs in his neighborhood, and his mother, who worked several hours a day, had no clue of his endeavors. He began rapping as a young teenager to entertain people in his neighborhood. When his talent and popularity began to become clear, he made a demo tape as Biggie Smalls, named after a gang leader from the 1975 movie “Let’s Do It Again.”
After his demo tape gained a lot of exposure he signed to Sean “Puffy” Combs’ label “Bad Boy Records” in 1992. Only one year later, in 1993, he released his debut single “Party and Bullshit.”
In 1994 Biggie’s debut album was released: “Ready to Die,” which was semi-autobiographical. His music is characterized a gangster rap. Two short months after its release the album was certified Gold. The album was certified Double-Platinum after two years, eventually hitting Quadruple-Platinum. The second song on the album “Big Poppa” was nominated for the Grammy of Best Rap Solo Performance. “Ready to Die” made Biggie a widely acclaimed artist known for his great narrative ability. In the years to come Biggie made a list of hits including, but not limited to: “Juicy,” “Hypnotize,” “Mo Money Mo Problems,” “One More Chance,” “Runnin,” “Big Poppa,” “Notorious Thugs,” “Sky’s The Limit,” “Party and Bullshit,” “Who Shot Ya,” and many more.
Unfortunately Biggie did not live a long life. He was murdered in the early hours of March 9. 1997 after leaving a Vibe Magazine party at the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California. A gunmen opened fire into his SUV. He was only 24 years old. His murderer was never found.
Although his life ended shortly, Biggie’s legacy still lives on today. He is one of the most revered, honored, emulated and biggest- selling rappers in the game. He is remembered for his unique sound. His voice was unlike any other rapper: plummy, deep, humid, and heavy. His voice made you want to listen. He also had excellent diction and phrasing, which he learned from Jazz saxophonist Donald Harrison. Biggie pushed boundaries of his genre and told the stories of people’s lives who don’t usually get heard. He, almost, single handedly reinvented east coast hip-hop.
In my opinion, Notorious B.I.G. is one of the most influential rappers to have ever been in the game. He influenced hip-hop culture musically, and fashionably. Many modern rappers make references to him and pay homage to his work and legacy, like Jay-Z, Eminem, etc. Biggie also influenced the fashion culture in the hip-hop world by constantly wearing the nicest jewelry, furs, and Coogi, which was extremely popular at the time. Socially, Biggie had the power to bring communities together with his music. People from all over the country and of all backgrounds loved his music. Biggie even influenced people who were not musical artists. He coined several phrases like “I love it when you call me ‘Big Poppa,’” and “If you don’t know, now you know nigga.” These are phrases he used in songs, but are used by everyday people, some who don’t even know that Biggie Smalls was the person to come up with the phrase.
My favorite songs by Biggie are “Who Shot Ya,” “Get Money,” “and Hypnotize.”