Mr. Smalls, dressed in his typically modest fashion.
This album is dedicated to all the teachers that told me I'd never amount to nothin', to all the people that lived above the buildings that I was hustlin' in front of that called the police on me when I was just tryin' to make some money to feed my daughters, and all the niggas' in the struggle, 'you know what I'm sayin'? It's all good baby baby...
Christopher George Latore Wallace (May 21, 1972 - March 9, 1997), known as The Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls (After a fictional gangster in the 1975 film Let's Do It Again
), and The Black Frank White (after Christopher Walken
's character in King Of New York
), was an American rapper. "B.I.G." and "Biggie" were rather apt names, as he stood at 6'3'' and weighed as much as 300 to 380 pounds.
After a childhood of crime caught up with him, Wallace decided to focus on his other talent: Rapping, under the name Biggie Smalls. This lead to a chain of events that resulted in him teaming up with Uptown Records A&R and record producer Sean "Puffy" Combs. However, soon after signing the contract, Combs found himself fired from Uptown and started up a new label, Bad Boy Records, which Wallace quickly became a part of. Later that year, Wallace gained exposure on a remix to Mary J. Blige's "Real Love". Wallace found out that his original pseudonym Biggie Smalls was already in use, so he adapted a new moniker: The Notorious B.I.G.(the letters apparently don't stand for anything).
After more successful appearances on hit songs (and his solo track "Party and Bullshit" appearing on the Whos The Man?
soundtrack), and a marriage to singer Faith Evans just nine days after meeting her at a Bad Boy photoshoot, Wallace released his first album: Ready to Die
. The album was a success, reaching #13 on the Billboard 200 chart and was very well received by critics and listeners alike, to the point that it's considered one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.
Unfortunately, Wallace became involved in the infamous West Coast/East Coast hip-hop quarrel. In 1994, Tupac Shakur
, his former friend and associate, believed that Wallace, Combs and Uptown Records founder Andre Harrell had prior knowledge of a robbery in the same recording studio that Wallace and his entourage were in at the time of the incident that resulted in Shakur being shot repeatedly and losing thousands in jewelry. While they denied the accusations, Shakur signed onto Death Row Records in 1995, and Bad Boy Records and Death Row, now business rivals, became involved in an intense feud. Recording of Wallace's second album began in September 1995, although the 18-month process was frequently interrupted by not only the highly publicized dispute he was tangled up in, but injury and legal trouble, stemming from charges of second-degree harassment and possession of weapons and drugs.
On September 7, 1996, Shakur was shot multiple times in Las Vegas in a drive-by shooting. Six days later, he perished due to complications from the gunshot wounds. Almost immediately fingers were pointed in Wallace's direction, which he denied, claiming that he was in New York at the time. An anti-violence hip-hop summit was held in the wake of Shakur's death.
Other than the birth of his first son, things didn't get much better from there. Wallace was involved in a car accident during the recording sessions for his second album that shattered his left leg and forced him to use a cane. And on top of that, he faced criminal assault charges and was forced to pay $41,000 after a friend of a concert promoter claimed to have been robbed and beaten up by Wallace and his entourage in May of 1995. The incident remains unsolved to this day, but all robbery charges were dropped. After this chain of events, Wallace declared that he wished to focus on "peace of mind" and his friends and family.
In 1997, Wallace traveled to California to promote his upcoming album. Unfortunately, on March 9, just fifteen days before said album was to be released, he was murdered in a drive-by shooting. The shooter remains unknown - as with the murder of Tupac, fingers have been pointed in all directions, but to this day no one really knows who did it. He was 24.
A movie about his life, Notorious
, was released on January 16th, 2009, starring rapper Jamal "Gravy" Woolard as the Notorious one himself. Not to be confused with the Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name,
not even for a minute.
- Ready to Die (1994)
- Life After Death (1997)
- Born Again (1999)
- Duets: The Final Chapter (2005)
Provides examples of:
- Anti-Love Song: "Me & My Bitch" is a rap version of this.
- Batman Gambit: How Biggie escapes the predicament he gets into in "I Got A Story to Tell." He changes what the situation looks like and counts on everyone else acting the way he thinks they will.
- Betty and Veronica: His well-publicized Love Triangle between widow Faith Evans and Lil Kim, whom he had known for years before marrying Evans.
- Biopic: Notorious, released in 2009. The film as a whole received mixed to positive reviews, but Jamal Woolward's performance was praised by nearly all who saw it.
- Bolivian Army Ending: "Gimme The Loot" ends with the two robber protagonists engaging the police in a shootout. It's not outright stated, but the voice of who is most likely a police officer (actually an Ice Cube sample) shouting "Take that, motherfuckers!" implies that the cops win.
- Brooklyn Rage
- The Commandments: "Ten Crack Commandments".
- Cool Shades: He wore them from time to time, such as his acceptance speech and several music videos.
- Dead Artists Are Better: He has been considered a solid contender for the greatest rapper of all time...after his death. With only two albums completed in his lifetime, to boot.
- Downer Ending: "Me and My Bitch" and "Suicidal Thoughts".
- Driven to Suicide: "Suicidal Thoughts", a song about Biggie contemplating and finally committing suicide.
- Gangsta Rap: Specifically, types 2 and 4, though he sometimes ventured into type 3. ("Gimme The Loot", anyone? No? Well, how about "Dead Wrong"?)
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Biggie and Puffy were best buds from day one.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Biggie was 6'4" and 300 Pounds. Lil' Kim was 4'11" and about 100 pounds.
- Inner Monologue - BIG argues with himself whether or not to rip off his own in men in the first verse of "Niggas Bleed".
Think about it now, that's damn near one-point-five
I kill 'em all I'll be set for life, Frank pay attention.
These motherfuckers is henchmen, renegades.
If you die they still get paid, extra probably.
Fuck a robbery, I'm the boss.
Promise you won't rob 'em. I promise,
But of course you know I had my fingers crossed
- List Song: "The Ten Crack Commandments". It originally included a sample of Chuck D counting to ten from the Public Enemy song "Shut 'Em Down", but Chuck, who is both Straight Edge and heavily critical of drug dealing, was so incensed at being sampled in a song about drug dealing that he sued to have it removed.
- Mentor: To Junior M.A.F.I.A., including Lil' Kim. Sadly, this ended with Mentor Occupational Hazard.
- Mob War
- Non-Appearing Title: "Juicy". The title makes sense when you know that the song samples "Juicy Fruit" by Mtume, but it doesn't appear anywhere in the song.
- Police Brutality: One of the allegations surfacing after the horrific LAPD Rampart scandal was that Biggie was murdered by cops.
- Rags to Riches: A popular subject of his songs; "Juicy" and "Sky's The Limit" come to mind.
- Rap Power Vacuum Many cynical fans feel this is how Jay-Z rose to prominence.
- Sampling: In addition to the "Ten Crack Commandments" debacle mentioned above, Ready to Die was pulled from shelves for a short while in 2004 due to a lawsuit about it sampling "Singing in the Morning" by The Ohio Players without permission, but the matter was resolved quickly.
- Short-Lived Big Impact: He died at 24, leaving a profound influence on rap in his wake.
- Take That: While he rarely brought up names, several of his tracks had listeners wondering "Did he just diss Nas? Was that aimed at 2Pac?"
- According to Nas himself on the song "We Will Survive", their relationship was more of Friendly Rivalry than out-and-out conflict. Never Speak Ill of the Dead may be in effect in the song, however.
- Biggie and Raekwon and Ghostface Killah were not on the best of terms while Biggie was alive, partly because Raekwon accused Ready to Die of plagiarising the cover of Nas' Illmatic. Subliminal disses were traded back and forth on songs and album interludes as a result. For example, where Raekwon rhymes "That's life, to top it all off, beef for whitenote / Pulling bleach out, trying to throw it in my eyesight... Yo, what the fuck is on your mind?" in "Ice Water", Biggie replies with "Fuck that, why try? Throw bleach in your eye" in "Kick in the Door".
- Rapping With Himself: "Gimme the Loot" on the Ready to Die album features two criminals plotting and carrying out a robbery - both of them are played by Biggie.
- He also raps both halves of a phone conversation in "Warning."
- Tempting Fate: The names of Biggie's albums.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: His marriage with Faith Evans.◊ Not that he was ugly, mind you, he just wasn't exactly the most attractive guy around.
- Villain Protagonist: "Gimme the Loot", "Dead Wrong", and "Who Shot Ya?.