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Music / The Notorious B.I.G.

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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..."
— "Juicy"

Christopher George Latore Wallace (May 21, 1972 - March 9, 1997), known professionally as The Notorious B.I.G. (alongside other stage names such as Biggie Smallsnote , The Black Frank Whitenote , and Big Poppa), was an American rapper. "B.I.G." and "Biggie" were rather apt names, as he stood at 6'3'' and weighed between 300 and 380 pounds.

Wallace began rapping as a teenager, which he decided to focus on after a childhood of crime caught up with him. (His earliest stage name was MC CWest, but he later changed it to Biggie Smalls.) This led 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," but later 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 stood for "Business Instead of Game").

After more successful appearances on hit songs (and his solo track "Party and Bullshit" appearing on the Who's 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, in 1994. The album was a success, reaching #13 on the Billboard 200 chart and being very well-received by critics and listeners alike; it's considered one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time to this day.

Unfortunately, Wallace became involved in the infamous West Coast/East Coast hip-hop quarrel. The same year of Ready to Die's release, 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. 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 Life After Death. 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 in 2009, starring rapper Jamal "Gravy" Woolard as the Notorious One himself. Woolard reprised his role as Biggie eight years later in the Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez on Me.

Not to be confused with the Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name — not even for a minute.


Studio Albums

Posthumous Albums

  • Born Again (1999)
  • Duets: The Final Chapter (2005)
  • The King & I (2017, a Posthumous Collaboration with his widow, Faith Evans)

"Biggie, Biggie, Biggie, can't you see? Sometimes your tropes just hypnotize me."

  • 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 left ambiguous who won; we hear a voice (actually an Ice Cube sample) shouting "Take that, motherfuckers!", but that could be from either side.
  • The Commandments: "Ten Crack Commandments".
  • Cool Shades: He wore them from time to time, such as his acceptance speech and several music videos.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: "Hypnotize"
  • The Diss Track: 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".
    • Of course there's the famous beef between B.I.G. and his former friend turned enemy 2Pac. While B.I.G. said he always loved 'Pac, few can blame him for eventually dissing him in response to Shakur's numerous disses. And he did it twice. Once in Busta Rhymes' Jay Dee-Produced song The Ugliest, and this one was definitely a diss, to the point the song was originally unreleased; and when it was remixed into the posthumous single "Dangerous MCs", Busta went out of his way to remove an overt Pac diss. The second time is, however, more up to debate. It was in the Life After Death song Long Kiss Goodnight (likely recorded before 'Pac died, as Life After Death was originally supposed to be released in Halloween 1996). You had Lil' Cease saying he was totally dissing Shakur, then Puff Daddy saying it wasn't a diss song. You make your conclusions.
    • Biggie and former labelmate Craig Mack had issues with each other from the get-go when they signed to Bad Boy, with Biggie going as far as to make many negative remarks about him during interviews. This led to both artists throwing subliminal disses at each other on Mack's "Flava In Ya Ear" remix:
      I see the gimmicks, the wack lyrics,
      the shit is depressing, pathetic, please forget it.
      You're mad cause my style you're admiring,
      Don't be mad, UPS is hiring.
      Craig Mack:
      Word up, no rap no crap you bore me,
      Wanna grab my dick, too lazy, hold it for me.
      ...A Tec-9 when I rhyme,
      Plus I climb, word is bond
      Your album couldn't fuck with one line.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: "Gimme the Loot" has this gem of a lyric.
    Biggie's Partner: Oh shit, the cops!
    Biggie: Be cool, fool; they ain't gonna roll up! All they want is fucking donuts!
  • 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"?)
  • Grand Finale: Subverted. True, Puff Daddy's "Victory" is the last song he ever recorded before he died, but he certainly didn't intended for it to be his last song. However, as if he knew he was going to kick the bucket, he went hard on this song, to the point his first verse is considered one of the best verses in the history of hip-hop.
    Real sick, brawl nights, I perform like Mike/Anyone, Tyson, Jordan, Jackson
  • 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.
  • Mighty Glacier: Describes himself as this in "Runnin' (Dying To Live)":
    Run from the police picture that, nigga I'm too fat.
    I fuck around and catch a asthma attack.
    That's why I bust back, it don't phase me.
    When he drop, take his Glock, and I'm Swayze.
  • 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.
  • Rags to Riches: A popular subject of his songs; "Juicy" and "Sky's The Limit" come to mind.
  • Rap Metal: "Wake Up" from Duets: The Final Chapter, which features Korn.
  • Rap Power Vacuum: Many cynical fans feel this is how Jay-Z rose to prominence after Biggie was killed.
  • Remix Album: Duets: The Final Chapter. The tracks are made from previous and/or unreleased recordings combined with verses from other rappers to form duets.
  • 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.
  • Tempting Fate: The names of Biggie's albums.
  • Villain Protagonist: "Gimme the Loot", "Dead Wrong," and "Who Shot Ya?"
  • Vocal Evolution: Notable in that you could hear it as early as Ready to Die. Initially, Biggie rapped with a slightly higher, nasally tone; especially in his demo tapes. Once he recorded "Big Poppa", he began using the smoky baritone he became known for, and never looked back since.

"And if you don't know, now you know, nigga."


Video Example(s):


Notorious BIG, "Juicy"

In his first single, Notorious BIG tells how he went from negative to positive. And if you don't know, now you know.

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