May 21st 1972-March 9th 1997
Christopher Wallace, also known as the Notorious B.I.G or most commonly, Biggie Smalls was born to Voletta Wallace. In 1968, Voletta convinced the U.S.embassy in Kingston, Jamaica that she was a fashion designer needing to preview clothes in the United States. Voletta moved to the U.S. at the age of 19, and on May 21st, 1972 she gave birth to one of the greatest additions to the Hip Hop legacy.
Christopher Wallace grew up on St. James Street in Brooklyn, New York, surrounded by a methadone clinic, dealers and drug addicts, and violence-stricken streets. Voletta tried her hardest to keep her son away from these negative influences, by keeping him involved in extracurricular activities and enrolling him in private Catholic schools. But unfortunately, her structured parenting could only guide her son so far. While his mother would spend days making money to take care of her family, Christopher turned to these same streets and became apart of the problem, becoming a dealer. Although school was never his strong suit, Wallace had a passion for rhyming and music. He dropped out of school at the age of sixteen, becoming a full-time drug dealer making $1200-$1500 a day. The flashy lifestyle that Christopher lusted after as a child was finally obtainable.
Before the start of his career, Christopher Wallace created a mixtape in the basement of his friends, 50 Grands, house. This mixtape was the start of his exposure to major names in the Hip-Hop industry. In 1992, this demo appeared in The Source’s “Unsigned Hype,” a column that just so happened to be read by Sean Combs AKA Puffy AKA P. Diddy. That same year Sean Combs and Andre Harrel (Uptown Executive) signed Wallace to their label.
Wallace, at the start of his career, only appeared on features. One of his first features was on Heavy D’s “A Buncha Ni**as.” Wallace was also featured on Neneh Cheerys “Buddy X”, and a Lenny Kravitz diss song, but one of his greatest and most famous appearence was on Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love.” These appearances gave Wallace the exposure he needed and placed him in the spotlight.
After his career took off from his significant additions to songs, Biggie started giving Hip-Hop music that remains popular even today. By 1993 Biggie had a song titled “Party and Bull–it” appearing in the comedy Whos The Man. In 1994 Biggie released his first of only two albums entitled Ready to Die. In an exclusive interview, Biggie says while writing this album he felt like he was already dead. Biggie felt this way because his only mindset was getting money, and he did not care how he received it. While recording this album, he states in an interview with Rap City that he had a lot of anger built up and he poured every emotion he felt at the time into this 24 track album. From Life After Death Biggie created songs like Big Poppa, Juicy and Gimmie the Loot. In this same interview, Biggie says his next album Life After Death was the flip side to the emotions he felt during his first album. Biggie believed he could not rap about the same things anymore because he was not living the same lifestyle as he once was. Biggie believed this album represented his new beginnings, a reincarnation of the death he once wanted to experience. This album featured songs like Notorious Thugs and My Downfall. Life After Death would be the last time Biggie released any music while alive.
LIFE AFTER DEATH
On March 9, 1997, Biggie Smalls was murdered in Los Angelos, California. Life After Death was released five days after his death, selling 500,000 copies in just the first week. Biggie’s murderer remains a mystery today, what isn’t a mystery is the legacy he left during his short 24-year life. After his death, Biggie was featured on P. Diddy’s album, No Way Out. I’ll Be Missing You, a song dedicated to Biggie that won a Grammy for best rap peformance in 1998. Two albums were released after his death featuring unreleased music: Born Again (1999) and Duets: The Final Chapter (2005). In 2009 Notorious was released. A biopic starring Jamal Woolard as Biggie Smalls. Notorius made $44 million worldwide, earning $20,497,596 in just its first week. Notorious showed the “war” between the wife of Biggie and R&B Singer, Faith Evans and rapper/mistress Lil’ Kim. Since his death, Faith Evans has released an album of duets between Wallace and herself entitled The King and I.
Some believe that The Notorious B.I.G. is one of, if not the best rapper to live. Regardless of the troubled life he lived, he died a man of high prestige that impacted a generation. Biggie lived a life driven towards success and money. Growing up his mother raised him to be a man that lived with dignity and morals, and although in his adolescents he disregarded these values she tried to instill him, as his career thrived he made his mother a very proud woman. Making money the correct way and making a name for himself: The Notorious.