The Notorious B.I.G.
Can’t Forget About You
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 enemy 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, 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
3. “What’s Beef”
5. “Kick In the Door”
6. “Who Shot Ya”
7. “I Got a Story to Tell”
8. “Party and Bullshit”
10. “Ten Crack Commandments”
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. “If I wasn’t in the rap game/I’d probably have a key, knee-deep in the crack game/Because the streets is a short stop/Either you slingin’ crack rocks 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 muthafuckin’ 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’re sick of this/Name-brand nigga with/Flows, girls say he’s sweet like licorice.” (“Hypnotize,” third verse)
9. “I got the cleanest meanest penis/Ya never seen this stroke of genius.” (“One More Chance,” second verse)
10. “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 BIGGEST CAREER MOVES
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 man, 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 or Oakland’s Too $hort), 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 joins his friend Tupac Shakur onstage at the Budweiser Superfest at Madison Square Garden and freestyles: “I got seven Mac 11s…”
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 Biggie 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 L.A.’s Peterson Automotive Museum.
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.
——- Read the rest of our tribute to Biggie in XXL’s April 2007 issue (#90)