On this day, March 9, in hip-hop history...

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1997: Every year since the death of The Notorious B.I.G. on March 9, hip-hop has paid homage to one of the most legendary lyricists of all time. Today marks the 20th anniversary of the day we lost Biggie Smalls.

The rapper, born Christopher Wallace, was gunned down during a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in 1997. In an autopsy report released in December 2012, it stated he was hit by four bullets, killed only by one. No arrests were ever made in the case.

Even as questions still arise from his passing, Biggie’s impact has inspired and invigorated the hip-hop community as a whole for years. Fans, rappers, other artists, DJs and club promoters have always viewed March 9 as a day of celebration for the Brooklyn native’s life and catalogue. Two of Biggie Smalls' studio albums—1994’s Ready to Die and 1997’s Life After Death—were widely successful and portrayed his underground reputation on a commercial level. These albums housed classic tracks such as “Gimme the Loot,” “Juicy,” “Hypnotize,” and “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.”

Biggie was especially a huge influence on Lil’ Kim, who made her mark as a member of his Junior M.A.F.I.A. crew. During an interview with MTV News in 2013, Bun B asked Kim, “How was it dealing with the loss of Biggie for you in this industry?” Her response was candid and revealed that she was just now getting over the fact.

"I never celebrate that day. It's so funny because I can always feel when that day is approaching. I get so depressed. I get so sad. It happens before March, in February. I can feel it coming and I used to all say 'no.' So to answer Bun B, I'm just now getting over that fact, and it's how many years later," she said.

Now 20 years after his death, Biggie’s legacy will never be forgotten. So rock your COOGI sweaters and shades today in honor of the man who paved the way for many MCs in the rap game. In honor of the Black Frank White's passing and his monumental effect on hip-hop as a whole, XXL looks back on the rapper's best moments. Check out the footage and XXL archives in the special Notorious B.I.G. tribute hub below.

 

See Photos of The Notorious B.I.G. Over the Years