Christopher Wallace, better known by his stage names "The Notorious B.I.G." and "Biggie Smalls" was an American rapper who is still considered to be one of the greatest hip hop artists of all time.
Born and raised in New York City's Brooklyn district, he released his debut album Ready to Die in 1994, featuring some of his most popular songs like "Juicy", and "Big Poppa", establishing his popularity in East Coast hip hop, increasing NY's visibility in the genre at a time when the West Coast was dominating the hip hop mainstream.
"Biggie's" style was highly praised due to his semi-autobiographical lyrics, focusing mainly on crime and the struggle of living as part of the African-American community in the United States. He passed away in 1997 and three more albums have been released since then, like the 1997 Life After Death, released only sixteen days after his death and featuring tracks like "Hypnotize" and "Mo Money Mo Problems", alongside his long-time friends and rappers Mase and Sean "Diddy" Combs.
Biggie Smalls: "The Greatest Rapper That Ever Lived"
Christopher Wallace also certified sales of over 28 million records in the US, and has been named the "greatest rapper that ever lived", as well as the "greatest rapper of all time" by Billboard. His tragic death at a very young age has been a huge topic of discussion, and as of today there are still some mysteries surrounding it.
The "Notorious B.I.G." passed away at a very young age
Following "Tupac Shakur's" death, who was murdered during a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, in September 1996, rumors of "Biggie's" involvement with his assassination started to spread, mostly because of the rivalry between the East Coast and West Coast hip hop, represented by "Biggie" and "Tupac". The next thing that happened was that "Notorious B.I.G." was murdered by an unknown assailant, also during a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles.
What exactly happened? On March 8th 1997, Wallace attended the 11th Annual Soul Train Music Awards where he presented an award to Toni Braxton. After the event he attended a party at the Petersen Automotive Museum, where other hip hop stars like Aaliyah were on the guest list.
The party concluded earlier than expected due to overcrowding so Wallace left the place in his car to return to his hotel. While travelling in the front passenger seat, a black car pulled up alongside "Biggie's" vehicle and the driver rolled down his window and fired at "Biggie's" car; four bullets hit him and he was pronounced dead a couple of minutes later at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Wallace's funeral was held 10 days later in Manhattan; Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige and Lil' Kim were some of the mourners.
This is Christopher Wallace's legacy - A true hip hop icon
"Biggie Smalls" has been described as "the savior of East Coast hip-hop" and he has been such an inspiration for other artists that his lyrics have been sampled and quoted by a large number of stars like Eminem, 50 Cent, Usher, and Alicia Keys.
Some others, like Snoop Dogg and Sean Combs have paid tribute to him on several occasions, like in the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards. In 2009 Notorious was released, a biographical film about the late rapper's life, starring Jamal Woolard and directed by George Tillman Jr..
After his death the Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation was created, holding an annual dinner called B.I.G. Night Out, which raises funds for children's school equipment and to honor his memory.
Since Brooklyn was the neighborhood were he was born and raised, fans can find several portrait murals of him, for instance on Fulton Street, just a half-mile away from Wallace's old block and close to Country House Diner, Wallace's favorite spot to enjoy "a T-bone steak, cheese eggs and Welch's grape."
A couple of quick facts about Christopher Wallace's personal life
In 1993 Wallace's former girlfriend gave birth to his first child, T'yanna. The hip hop artist had split with her some time before the baby was born and despite having dropped out of school himself, he wanted her to complete her education and promised her everything she wanted. Eventually he had to sell drugs in order to support her financially.
In 1994 he married R&B singer Faith Evans.They welcomed their first child together in October 1996, only a couple of months before "Biggie's" death. His name is Christopher Wallace Jr. and he has been pursuing his acting career, he currently stars in the 2019 series Scream as "Amir."