After They Were Dead


AFTER Notorious BIG’s debut album Ready to Die would garner critical acclaim and commercial success, with songs like Big Poppa, and Juicy.

AFTER he would work with Sean “P Diddy” Combs, mentor rappers like Lil Cease and Lil Kim, and posthumously collaborate with Eminem, Snoop Dog, Method Man, Busta Rhymes, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and even his friend-turned-rival, Tupac.

AFTER he would go from slinging drugs on street corners just to get by, to accumulating an estimated net worth of $160 million dollars, but the money would fuel a host of new problems for the hip hop legend

AFTER he would be accused of being involved in Tupac’s murder, but would deny wishing death on him or anyone…

AFTER Biggie Smalls would meet the same fate just 6 months later in a murder that to this day remains officially unsolved, leaving behind his wife Faith Evans, his daughter T’yanna, and his son Christopher Jr, who would eventually attempt to follow in his father’s foot steps

When XXL asked several rappers to name their 5 favourite emcees, back in 2003, Notorious BIG’s name came up more often than anyone else. Like Tupac, and he’s released more work posthumously than he did during his lifetime, with both Life After Death and Born Again going double platinum and peaking at number one on the US Billboard charts. There has been no shortage of controversy surrounding his murder, and he has been the subject of many a documentary, including his 2009 biopic, Notorious, directed by George Tillman and starring Jamal Woolard.

NOTORIOUS BIG was born Christopher George Latore Wallace on May 21, 1972 in Brooklyn, NY. Growing up, Christopher was a promising student, winning awards for his talent in English, but took to hustling at a young age, and began selling drugs when he was just 12 years old. At 17, he was arrested on weapons charges, the first of several, leading up to nine months in a North Carolina prison. After that, he decided to turn his life around and focus on making music.

After performing on the street, forming a rap collective called ‘Old Gold Brothers’, and recording demos in his mom’s basement, Biggie was discovered by Sean “Puffy” Combs. Puff Daddy would soon after start his own label, Bad Boy Entertainment, and sign Biggie.

There were high hopes for Biggie Smalls, who would later change his name to Notorious BIG, and he did not disappoint. His first studio album, Ready to Die launched in 1994, sold 4 million copies and achieved widespread critical acclaim. That album featured some of hip hop’s most iconic songs like Juicy and Big Poppa.

By the mid 90s, Notorious BIG was widely recognized as the King of East Coast Hip Hop. As such, his beef with Tupac came to create a greater East Coast / West Coast feud.

After Tupac’s death in 1996, Biggie felt a need to squash the coastal feud, and even reached out to Snoop Dogg, telling him he never hated Tupac.

In his final months, Notorious BIG was hard at work promoting his upcoming album, Life After Death. In February 1997, he dropped its first single, Hypnotize.

That would be the last Biggie track released within his life time, as he would be gunned down on March 9 of that year. That night, his SUV was stopped at a red light at the corner of Wilshire Blvd and South Fairfax avenue, in Los Angeles. A dark coloured Impala pulled up alongside. The driver rolled down his window, drew a pistol and shot  Biggie four times.

He was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, but was pronounced dead within 30 minutes. Like the murder of Tupac, Biggie’s murder has never been officially solved, although, according to the LA Times, the key suspect was a member of the Crips, who apparently carried out the murder for money.

Biggie’s funeral was held in Manhattan, and attended by 350 mourners, among whom were Lil Kim, Lil Cease, Mary J Blige, Queen Latifa, Run DMC, Busta Rhymes, Foxy Brown and Flava Flav. Notorious BIG was also commemorated by his long time collaborator, Sean Colmes, in the song, I’ll Be Missing You.

Just a week after his funeral, Bad Boy Records released Notorious BIG’s album, Life After Death. Featuring songs like Hypnotize and Mo Money Mo Problems, the album was nominated for three Grammies, and reached number one on the US billboard charts.

Biggie would hit number one again just two years later, with Born Again, which featured early recorded verses over newer beats and guest rappers like Puff Daddy, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Ice Cube and Method Man. A similar approach was taken for Biggie’s las studio album, Duets: The Final Chapter, which featured some surprising collaborators, like Korn, Bob Marley, and spoken word pieces from both his kids.

Biggie Smalls’ death had left a vacuum in the East Coast rap scene, with many artists itching to be crowned King of New York. This would spark the famous beef between Jay Z and NAS. The rift would last for a decade, as the two exchanged insults in their lyrics. Jay hit Naz with tracks like the Take Over.

And NAZ fired back with songs like Ether.

The beef finally ended when NAS signed to Jay Z’s Def Jam Recordings in 2006, and made a surprise appearance at Jay Z’s I Declare War concert.

Biggie has been remembered in documentaries like Biggie & Tupac (2002), Notorious BIG: Bigger than life (2007), and his biopic, Notorious (2009). The film was produced by Sean Combs, Voletta Wallace and Biggie’s former managers Wayne Barrow and Mark Pitts. Rapper Jamal Woolard was chosen to play Biggie as an adult, while Biggie’s son, Christopher Wallace, played him as a child. Bad Boy records released the soundtrack, featuring some of Biggie’s greatest songs like Hypnotize, Juicy, and Warning, and the movie grossed $44 million dollars world wide.

Notorious BIG’s lyrics have been sampled and referenced by a long list of artists, including Eminem, Jay Z, 50 Cent, Nelly, Lil Wayne, the Game, and Usher. He has been the subject of street art all over the world, including a massive mural on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, just a half mile from the star’s old block. Biggie is also remembered with The Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation, which holds a black tie dinner every year, called B.I.G Night Out, to raise funds for children’s school supplies.

And the rest of the story well, it lives on in his music, because this is After They Were GONE


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