Ed. Note: This article originally ran in the April 2007 issue of XXL, where XXL collected ten of Biggie's best songs, collaborations, moments and more on the 10th anniversary of his death. We are re-running the story as part of a week of throwback stories to commemorate the 17th anniversary of The Notorious B.I.G.'s death yesterday, March 9, 1997. Check out our other stories right here.

Ten years. Ten years since March 9, 1997, when 24-year-old Christopher Wallace (a.k.a. the Notorious B.I.G., a.k.a. Biggie Smalls) was shot to death in Los Angeles. Like his close friend turned terrible rival Tupac Shakur, who met the same fate six months before, the 6-foot-3-inch, 280-pound Biggie hasn’t gotten any smaller in the eyes of the rap world since his passing. His presence is still gargantuan. A lot of people will tell you he is the single greatest MC rap music has produced, the limited amount of material he recorded in his four-year career being perhaps the best argument against him.

His story isn’t over. His murder remains a mystery. (Though, in 2005, revelations unearthed through a wrongful-death suit that his mother, Voletta Wallace, brought against the Los Angeles Police Department suggest that the dark truth might come out eventually.) And, of course, his music still rocks every block with a radio on it.

In tribute, though, as a memorial to the great artistry Biggie displayed in his far-too-brief time on the planet and to mark the sad anniversary, XXL has compiled 10 lists, 10 entries each, that speak to his ever-lasting impact.


10 Best Biggie Songs

1. “Hypnotize”

2. “Juicy”

3. “What’s Beef”

4. “Warning”

5. “Kick In the Door”

6. “Who Shot Ya”

7. “I Got a Story To Tell”

8. “Party and Bullshit”

9. “Unbelievable”

10. “Ten Crack Commandments”

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10 Best Biggie Collabos

1. “The What”—Biggie featuring Method Man

2. “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems”—Biggie featuring Puff Daddy and Ma$e

3. “Brooklyn’s Finest”—Jay Z featuring Biggie

4. “Player’s Anthem”—Junior M.A.F.I.A. featuring Biggie

5. “Can’t You See (Remix)”—Total featuring Biggie

6. “Flava in Ya Ear (Remix)”—Craig Mack featuring Biggie, Rampage, Busta Rhymes and LL Cool J

7. “Notorious Thugs”—Biggie featuring Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

8. “Victory”—Puff Daddy featuring Biggie and Busta Rhymes

9. “Fucking You Tonight”—Biggie featuring R. Kelly

10. “Da B Side”—Da Brat featuring Biggie and Jermaine Dupri


10 Best Biggie Rhymes

1. “B-I-G P-O P-P-A/No info for the DEA/Federal agents mad ’cause I’m flagrant/Tapped my cell and the phone in the basement.” (“Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems,” third verse)

2. “Your girl fucked my man Jacob/Heard in three weeks she sniffed a whole half a cake up/Heard she suck a good dick and could hook a steak up.” (“Ten Crack Commandments,” coda)

3. “Because the streets is a short stop/Either you slingin’ crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot.” (“Things Done Changed,” third verse)

4. “Fuck all that bickerin’ beef/I can hear sweat tricklin’ down your cheek/Your heartbeat sounds like Sasquatch feet/Thunderin’/Shaking the concrete.” (“Who Shot Ya,” first verse)

5. “This goes out to those who choose to use/Disrespectful views/On the King of N.Y.” (“Kick In the Door,” fourth verse)

6. “Excuse me/Flows just grow through me/Like trees to branches/Cliffs to avalanches/It’s the praying mantis/Deep like the mind of Farrakhan/A motherfuckin’ rap phenomenon.” (“The What,” second verse)

7. “And I’m robbing bitches, too/of their herringbones and bamboos/I wouldn’t give a fuck if you’re pregnant/Give me the baby rings and the ‘No. 1 Mom’ pendant.” (“Gimme the Loot,” first verse)

8. “I know you sick of this/name-brand nigga with/Flows, girls say he’s sweet like licorice.” (“Hypnotize,” third verse)

9. “So I freaked ’em/The telly manager was Puerto Rican/Gloria/From Astoria/I went to war with her/Peeps in ’91/Stole a gun from my workers/And they took drugs/They tried to jerk us.” (“Niggas Bleed,” third verse)

10. “Beef is when I see you/Guaranteed to be in ICU.” (“What’s Beef,” chorus)


10 Most Important Moves Biggie Made In His Career

1. Getting his demo tape to Mister Cee, Big Daddy Kane’s DJ, in 1991

2. Hooking up with budding music mogul Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs in 1992

3. Helping his manager, Lance “Un” Rivera, set up a label, Undeas Records, in 1994

4. Putting on his crew, Junior M.A.F.I.A.

5. Bringing the raunchy female lyricist Lil’ Kim to hip-hop

6. Befriending and recording with a young Jay Z

7. Using collabos with R&B artists, like Total, to cross over into different markets

8. Recording with artists from various regions (like Cleveland’s Bone Thugs-N-Harmony), to the same effect

9. Changing image from ashy street pawn (“just trying to make some money to feed my daughter”) to classy kingpin (the “Black Frank White”)

10. Dying too young to have made any bad music


10 Most Memorable Biggie Moments

1. Oct. 1993: Biggie freestyles onstage with his friend Tupac Shakur at the Budweiser Superfest at Madison Square Garden. “I got seven Mac 11s…,” he spits

2. Aug. 4, 1994: Biggie elopes with Bad Boy singer Faith. They’re wed by a justice of the peace in Rosslyn, N.Y.

3. Aug. 3, 1995: Biggie wins four awards, including Best Lyricist and Album of the Year, at the 1995 Source Awards. “We did it, Brooklyn!” he says from the podium

4. April 1995: In an interview with Vibe magazine, Tupac accuses B.I.G. and Puffy of setting him up to be shot at New York’s Quad Studios

5. Sept. 17, 1996: Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s Lil Cease crashes a Dodge Astrovan in New Jersey—Biggie suffers a broken leg

6. March 7, 1997: Six months after Tupac's murder, Biggie appears at the Soul Train Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. "What up, Cali?" he says over boos.

7. March 9, 1997: Biggie’s shot after leaving a Soul Train Awards party at the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles

8. March 18, 1997: A 20-car caravan takes Biggie’s casket on a funeral procession through Brooklyn

9. Sept. 4, 1997: Puffy performs the Biggie tribute “I’ll Be Missing You” with Faith, 112 and Sting at the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York

10. Jan. 6, 2000: Life After Death becomes the second rap album (after MC Hammer’s Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ’Em) ever to be awarded the RIAA’s diamond certification for 10 million units sold


10 Things Biggie Made Cool Forever

1. Brooklyn

2. Fucking R&B singers

3. Gangsta rap club songs

4. Walking with a cane

5. Puffy

6. Versace print shirts

7. Adopting movie character personas

8. Jesus Pieces

9. Being "Black and ugly as ever"

10. Drinking pickle juice


10 Most Commonly Swagger-Jacked Biggie Opening Lines

1. “When the Remy’s in the system/Ain’t no tellin’/Will I fuck ’em, will I diss ’em/That’s what these hoes yellin’/I’m a pimp by blood, not relation.” (“The World Is Filled…”)

2. “Your reign on the top was short like leprechauns.” (“Kick In the Door”)

3. “As I sit back, relax/Puff a blunt, sip a Becks.” (“Just Playing [Dreams]”)

4. "To all the ladies in the place with style and grace/Allow me to lace these lyrical douches/In your bushes" ("Big Poppa")

5. “When it comes to sex/I’m similar to the Thriller in Manilla.” (“One More Chance”)

6. “To all the ladies in the place with style and grace/Allow me to lace these lyrical douches/In your bushes.” (“Big Poppa”)

7. “I make yo mouthpiece obese/Like Della Reese.” (“Long Kiss Goodnight”)

8. “I got seven Mac 11s/About eight .38s/Nine 9s/Ten Mac 10s/The shit never ends.” (1993 freestyle—officially released on the posthumous Born Again album as “Come On”)

9. “Ha! Sicker than your average.” (“Hypnotize”)

10. “Today’s agenda/Got the suitcase up in the Sentra/Go to room 112/Tell ’em Blanco sent ya.” (“Niggas Bleed”)


10 Things That Would Have Biggie Rolling Over In His Grave

1. Kim, Voletta and Faith fighting over Biggie’s ashes

2. Jay Z stabbing Biggie’s old partner, Lance “Un” Rivera, over allegations of bootlegging in December 1999

3. LAPD’s suspicious inability to solve Biggie’s murder

4. September 2002 LA Times piece implicating Biggie in the murder of Tupac

5. The dissolution of Junior M.A.F.I.A.

6. Lil’ Cease being labeled a snitch for testifying in Lil’ Kim’s 2005 perjury trial

7. Cease calling Hot 97 in November 2005 and accusing Puff of jerking Biggie—and, subsequently, Ms. Wallace—out of publishing royalties owed

8. The Biggie Duets album

9. The gentrification of Brooklyn

10. Kim’s plastic surgery


10 MC's Who Followed In Biggie's Footsteps

1. Big Pun—’Course, Pun had a brilliant style of his own, but in ’97, when “I’m Not A Player” hit, the idea of a plus-size gangsta rapper “crushing” the ladies had one clear precedent

2. Shyne—People thought Puff was pulling a Milli Vanilli with an unreleased Biggie track when “Bad Boyz” first dropped

3. Lil’ Kim—If anyone has a right to bite, it’s her. But while flipping the gender perspective of “Just Playing” for “Dreams” was cool, the Notorious K.I.M. album was a step too far

4. Black Rob—A grimy, crime-y rapper with a toothpick and sneer, Rob was recruited to bring a glitzy Bad Boy back to the streets in ’99. It was like, whoa, this seems kinda familiar

5. Guerilla Black—A 6-foot-2-inch, 250-pound Biggie soundalike from L.A.? Ridiculous

6. Gravy—Before he got shot in the tuchus and subsequently banned from Hot 97, this heavyset Brooklyn rapper was best known for rocking pinstripe suits and canes, and rhyming over Biggie beats

7. Mike Jones—Another rotund rapper sees the spoils of success. Biggie: “Girls used to diss me/Now they writin’ letters ’cause they miss me.” Mike Jones: “They used to love to diss me/Now they rush to hug and kiss me”

8. Papoose—Live from Bedford-Stuyvesant, the young concept-rap specialist is dedicated to bringing the crown back to NYC. He’s got big plans, rap fans, big plans

9. Young Jeezy—Low on lyrical prowess and artistic ambition, the four-time trapper of the year gets by on lived-it-to-tell-it credibility and extra large personality. He’s like a Biggie for the postrap generation

10. Jay Z—He’s earned it. And no one doubts the love. But even Jay admits that he’s “smudged” his own career by giving Biggie the sincerest form of flattery

Photo Credit: Raymond Boyd

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10 Things Biggie Will Be Forever Renowned For

1. Bringing hip-hop back East in 1995

2. Never writing rhymes down

3. Prophetically “killing himself” on “Suicidal Thoughts” at the end of his first album

4. The natural boom-bap in his voice (Baby, baaaybeh!)

5. His slow-flo: remarkable

6. Concept raps

7. Out “boning” Bone Thugs on “Notorious Thugs"

8. Making a double album that was actually worth its length

9. Coining the phrase “mo’ money, mo’ problems.” And, sadly, living it

10. Being part of the worst beef in hip-hop history.