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Today in Hip Hop History | The Notorious B.I.G. Died 23 Years Ago

Biggie Smalls, also known as "The Notorious B.I.G.," was a revered hip-hop artist and face of East Coast gangsta rap. On March 9, 1997, the life of Notorious B.I.G. ended brutally, he was only 24 years old when he was gunned down in 1997 in Los Angeles, a murder that has never been solved. Today Biggie is one of the legendary hip hop artists of all time.

Between 1994 and 1997, Biggie Smalls belonged to the East Coast Hip Hop Movement. Because of his membership, he fell into a dispute with the West Coast Association, which included, among others, Tupac Shakur (✝25).

Tupac died six months before B.I.G. in the same circumstances. 2Pac's murder was also never solved, but the public always suspected that Notorious B.I.G. had something to do with the death.

Biggie and Tupac's Friendship

Their friendship began in 1993. Biggie would meet Tupac on the set of Poetic Justice in Los Angeles. During this encounter, it’s been reported that ‘Pac was playing “Party & Bullshit” over and over while on set, which was flattering for an upstarting Biggie. They ate, drank and smoked together, and Tupac, already a successful recording artist, gifted Biggie, then unknown outside New York, a bottle of Hennessy. After that, Tupac mentored Biggie whenever the two met up — at one point Biggie even asked if Tupac would become his manager. "Nah, stay with Puff," Tupac apparently said. "He will make you a star." Biggie was particularly concerned about money around that time because he became a father in August to T'yanna, his daughter, with high-school sweetheart, Jan. It has been reported that Biggie went back to drug dealing at this point, until Combs learned what he was up to and made him stop.

“I always thought it to be like a Gemini thing,” Biggie said to Vibe. “We just clicked off the top and were cool ever since.”

Biggie and Bad Boy Records

Biggie began rapping as a teenager to entertain people in his neighborhood. After he got out of jail, he made a demo tape as Biggie Smalls — named after a gang leader from the 1975 movie Let's Do It Again; also a nod to his childhood nickname. He had no serious plans to pursue a career in music — "It was fun just hearing myself on tape over beats," he later said in an Arista Records biography — but the tape found its way to The Source magazine, who were so impressed that they profiled Biggie in their Unsigned Hype column in March 1992; from there, Biggie was invited to record with other unsigned rappers. This recording came to the attention of Sean "Puffy" Combs , an A&R executive and producer who worked for the leading urban label Uptown Records — he started there as an intern in 1990. Combs arranged a record deal for Biggie, but left the label soon after, having fallen out with his boss, Andre Harrell. Combs went on to set up his own imprint, Bad Boy Records, and by mid-1992 Biggie had joined him.

Before he had the chance to put anything out on Bad Boy, Uptown released music that Biggie recorded during his brief stint at the label, including a remix of Mary J. Blige's 'Real Love' in August 1992 that featured a guest verse from The Notorious B.I.G. (He had been forced to change his recording name after a lawsuit; though he continued to be widely known as Biggie). In June 1993, the label released The Notorious BIG's first single as a solo artist, 'Party and Bullshit'.

Marriage to Faith

Photo: Getty

The New Yorker rapper married his wife Faith in August 1994. He met the R'n'B singer at a photo shoot of the music label "Bad Boy Entertainment". They have one son together, Christopher Jordan (22). In 2008 Faith released a book where she opens up about her turbulent marriage with Biggie, his many affairs and also sets the record straight on her alleged affair with Tupac Shakur. The turbulent marriage of the musicians ended after three years when Notorious was shot dead.

Biggie Released Only One Album

Photo : Bad Boy Records

Although having released two studio albums and many compilation albums posthumously, only one of The Notorious B.I.G.’s albums was released during his actual lifetime.

Biggie's debut album was named 'Ready to Die', the partly autobiographical album tells the story of the rapper's experiences as a young criminal, and was the only studio album released during his lifetime, as he was murdered sixteen days before the release of his second album named 'Life After Death' in 1997.

His first album ‘Ready to Die’ received widespread critical praise on release, going platinum three times, earning The Notorious B.I.G. a Grammy nomination for his second single ‘Big Poppa’ and establishing him as one of the greatest rappers of all time. The album is consistently ranked among the greatest albums of all time by the likes of (Time, The Guardian, Q and the Rolling Stone.)


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