The Notorious B.I.G

The Notorious B.I.G. was shot and killed in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997 while doing press for his second studio album, Life After Death. Although he was just 24 at the time of the shooting, Biggie left behind a legacy that has carried on for decades. Born Christopher Wallace at St. Mary's Hospital in Brooklyn on May 12, 1971, Biggie was primarily raised by his mother, Voletta Wallace. As a young student at Queen of All Saints Middle School, he won numerous awards as an English student. At 12, he started selling drugs, something his mother didn’t find out about until years later.

He ultimately ended up serving nine months in jail after he was arrested for selling crack-cocaine. Despite his crime-ridden path, Biggie had fallen in love with hip-hop and was polishing his rap skills. Upon his release from jail, he released a demo called Microphone Murderer under the moniker Biggie Smalls, a nod to Calvin Lockhart's character in the 1975 film Let's Do It Again and his own stature. Biggie stood at 6 feet, 3 inches and weighed between 300 and 380 pounds. DJ Mister Cee soon discovered it, and the demo eventually made its way to The Source’s editor, who promoted it in the magazine’s Unsigned Hype column.

Sean "Diddy" Combs, who was working in A&R at Uptown Records in the early 1990s, offered Biggie a record contract. A year later, Diddy was fired and he started Bad Boy Records, Biggie’s new home. Together with Diddy, Biggie released two albums: 1994’s Ready to Die and Life After Death. The former reached No. 13 on the Billboard 200 and was certified four-times platinum, while the latter—bolstered by his premature passing—landed at No. 1 with more than 690,000 copies sold in its opening week.

It was also nominated for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Solo Performance for its first single "Hypnotize" and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for its second single "Mo Money Mo Problems" at the 40th Annual Grammy Awards. A posthumous album, Born Again, arrived in 1999 and again topped the chart. In the years since Biggie’s death, he’s remained one of the culture’s most revered MCs, an honor not given to many.

Selected Discography: Ready to Die (1994), Life After Death (1997), “Juicy” (1994), “Big Poppa” (1994), “Hypnotize” (1997)
Related Artists: Diddy, Method Man, Jay-Z
Read More: The Notorious B.I.G. Breaks Down His Song Lyrics in Exclusive 1995 Interview (XXL April 2003 Issue)

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