The Notorious B.I.G.
The Notorious B.I.G.
The Notorious B.I.G. in 1995
Christopher George Latore Wallace
May 21, 1972
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
|Died||March 9, 1997 (aged 24)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Homicide by gunshots|
|Children||2, including C. J.|
Christopher George Latore Wallace (May 21, 1972 – March 9, 1997), better known by his stage names The Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls, or simply Biggie, was an American rapper and songwriter. Rooted in the New York rap scene and gangsta rap traditions, he is considered one of the greatest rappers of all time. The Notorious B.I.G. became known for his distinctive laidback lyrical delivery, offsetting the lyrics' often grim content and his own intimidating appearance. His music was often semi-autobiographical, telling of hardship and criminality, but also of debauchery and celebration.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City, The Notorious B.I.G. signed to Sean "Puffy" Combs' label Bad Boy Records as it launched in 1993, and gained exposure through features on several other artists' singles that year. His debut album Ready to Die (1994) was met with widespread critical acclaim, and included his signature songs "Juicy" and "Big Poppa". The album made him the central figure in East Coast hip hop, and restored New York's visibility at a time when the West Coast hip hop scene was dominating hip hop music. The Notorious B.I.G. was awarded the 1995 Billboard Music Awards' Rapper of the Year. The following year, he led his protégé group Junior M.A.F.I.A., a team of himself and longtime friends, including Lil' Kim, to chart success.
During 1996, while recording his second album, The Notorious B.I.G. became ensnarled in the escalating East Coast–West Coast hip hop feud. Following Tupac Shakur's death in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas in September 1996, speculations of involvement by criminal elements orbiting the Bad Boy circle circulated. On March 9, 1997, while visiting Los Angeles, Wallace was murdered in a drive-by shooting. The assailant remains unidentified. The Notorious B.I.G.'s second album Life After Death, a double album, was released two weeks later. It reached number one on the Billboard 200, and eventually achieved a Diamond certification in the US.
With two more posthumous albums released, The Notorious B.I.G. has accrued certified sales of over 28 million copies in the United States, including 21 million albums. Rolling Stone has called him the "greatest rapper that ever lived," and Billboard named him the greatest rapper of all time. The Source magazine named him the greatest rapper of all time in its 150th issue. In 2006, MTV ranked him at No. 3 on their list of The Greatest MCs of All Time, calling him possibly "the most skillful ever on the mic". In 2020, The Notorious B.I.G. was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Life and career
1972–1991: Early life
Wallace was born at St. Mary's Hospital in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on May 21, 1972, the only child of Jamaican immigrant parents. His mother, Voletta Wallace, was a preschool teacher, while his father, Selwyn George Latore, was a welder and politician. His father left the family when Wallace was two years old, and his mother worked two jobs while raising him. Wallace grew up at 226 St. James Place in Brooklyn's Clinton Hill, near the border with Bedford-Stuyvesant. Wallace excelled at Queen of All Saints Middle School, winning several awards as an English student. He was nicknamed "Big" because he was overweight by the age of 10. Wallace claimed to have begun dealing drugs at about age 12. His mother, often at work, first learned of this during his adulthood.
He began rapping as a teenager, entertaining people on the streets, and performed with local groups, the Old Gold Brothers as well as the Techniques. At his request, Wallace transferred from Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Fort Greene to George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School in Downtown Brooklyn, which future rappers DMX, Jay-Z, and Busta Rhymes were also attending. According to his mother, Wallace was still a good student but developed a "smart-ass" attitude at the new school. At age 17, Wallace dropped out of school and became more involved in crime. In 1989, he was arrested on weapons charges in Brooklyn and sentenced to five years' probation. In 1990, he was arrested on a violation of his probation. A year later, Wallace was arrested in North Carolina for dealing crack cocaine. He spent nine months in jail before making bail.
1991–1994: Early career and first child
After release from jail, Wallace made a demo tape, Microphone Murderer, while calling himself Biggie Smalls, alluding both to Calvin Lockhart's character in the 1975 film Let's Do It Again and to his own stature and obesity, 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m) and 300 to 380 lb (140–170 kg). Although Wallace reportedly lacked real ambition for the tape, local DJ Mister Cee, of Big Daddy Kane and Juice Crew association, discovered and promited it, thus heard by The Source rap magazine's editor in 1992.
In March, The Source column "Unsigned Hype," dedicated to airing promising rappers, featured Wallace. He then spun the attention into a recording. Upon hearing the demo tape, Sean "Puffy" Combs, still with the A&R department of Uptown Records, arranged to meet Wallace. Promptly signed to Uptown, Wallace appeared on labelmates Heavy D & the Boyz's 1993 song "A Buncha Niggas". Mid-year, or a year after Wallace's signing, Uptown fired Combs, who, a week later, launched Bad Boy Records, instantly Wallace's new label.
On August 8, 1993, Wallace's longtime girlfriend gave birth to his first child, T'yanna, although the couple had split by then. A high-school dropout, Wallace promised his daughter "everything she wanted", in his reasoning that if he had had the same in childhood, he would have graduated at the top of his class. Although he continued dealing drugs, Combs discovered that and obliged him to quit. Later that year, Wallace gained exposure on a remix of Mary J. Blige's single "Real Love". Having found his moniker Biggie Smalls already claimed, he took a new one, holding for good, The Notorious B.I.G.
The "Real Love" remix single was followed by another remix of a Mary J. Blige song, "What's the 411?". Wallace's successes continued, if to a lesser extents, on remixes of Neneh Cherry's song "Buddy X" and of reggae artist Super Cat's song "Dolly My Baby", also featuring Combs, all in 1993. In April, Wallace's solo track "Party and Bullshit" was released on the Who's the Man? soundtrack. In July 1994, he appeared alongside LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes on a remix of hiw own labelmate Craig Mack's "Flava in Ya Ear", the remix reaching No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100.
1994: Ready to Die and marriage to Faith Evans
On August 4, 1994, Wallace married R&B singer Faith Evans, whom he had met at a Bad Boy photoshoot. Five days later, Wallace had his first pop chart success as a solo artist with double A-side, "Juicy / Unbelievable", which reached No. 27 as the lead single to his debut album.
Ready to Die was released on September 13, 1994. It reached No. 13 on the Billboard 200 chart and was eventually certified four times Platinum. The album shifted attention back to East Coast hip hop at a time when West Coast hip hop dominated US charts. It gained strong reviews and has received much praise in retrospect. In addition to "Juicy", the record produced two hit singles: the Platinum-selling "Big Poppa", which reached No. 1 on the U.S. rap chart, and "One More Chance", which sold 1.1 million copies in 1995. Busta Rhymes claimed to have seen Wallace giving out free copies of Ready to Die from his home, which Rhymes reasoned as "his way of marketing himself".
Around the time of the album's release, Wallace became friends with fellow rapper Tupac Shakur. Cousin Lil' Cease recalled the pair as close, often traveling together whenever they were not working. According to him, Wallace was a frequent guest at Shakur's home and they spent time together when Shakur was in California or Washington, D.C. Yukmouth, an Oakland emcee, claimed that Wallace's style was inspired by Shakur. Wallace also befriended basketball player Shaquille O'Neal. O'Neal said they were introduced during a listening session for "Gimme the Loot"; Wallace mentioned him in the lyrics and thereby attracted O'Neal to his music. O'Neal requested a collaboration with Wallace, which resulted in the song "You Can't Stop the Reign". According to Combs, Wallace would not collaborate with "anybody he didn't really respect" and that Wallace paid O'Neal his respect by "shouting him out". In 2015, Daz Dillinger, a frequent Shakur collaborator, said that he and Wallace were "cool", with Wallace traveling to meet him to smoke cannabis and record two songs.
1995: Junior M.A.F.I.A., Conspiracy and coastal feud
In August 1995, Wallace's protégé group, Junior M.A.F.I.A. ("Junior Masters At Finding Intelligent Attitudes"), released their debut album Conspiracy. The group consisted of his friends from childhood and included rappers such as Lil' Kim and Lil' Cease, who went on to have solo careers. The record went Gold and its singles, "Player's Anthem" and "Get Money", both featuring Wallace, went Gold and Platinum. Wallace continued to work with R&B artists, collaborating with R&B groups 112 (on "Only You") and Total (on "Can't You See"), with both reaching the top 20 of the Hot 100. By the end of the year, Wallace was the top-selling male solo artist and rapper on the U.S. pop and R&B charts. In July 1995, he appeared on the cover of The Source with the caption "The King of New York Takes Over", a reference to his alias Frank White, based on a character from the 1990 film King of New York. At the Source Awards in August 1995, he was named Best New Artist (Solo), Lyricist of the Year, Live Performer of the Year, and his debut Album of the Year. At the Billboard Awards, he was Rap Artist of the Year.
In his year of success, Wallace became involved in a rivalry between the East and West Coast hip hop scenes with Shakur, now his former friend. In an interview with Vibe in April 1995, while serving time in Clinton Correctional Facility, Shakur accused Uptown Records' founder Andre Harrell, Sean Combs, and Wallace of having prior knowledge of a robbery that resulted in him being shot five times and losing thousands of dollars worth of jewelry on the night of November 30, 1994. Though Wallace and his entourage were in the same Manhattan-based recording studio at the time of the shooting, they denied the accusation. Wallace said: "It just happened to be a coincidence that he [Shakur] was in the studio. He just, he couldn't really say who really had something to do with it at the time. So he just kinda' leaned the blame on me." In 2012, a man named Dexter Isaac, serving a life sentence for unrelated crimes, claimed that he attacked Shakur that night and that the robbery was orchestrated by entertainment industry executive and former drug trafficker, James Rosemond.
1996: Collaboration with Michael Jackson, more arrests, accusations regarding Shakur's death, and second child
Wallace began recording his second studio album in September 1995 over 18 months in New York City, Trinidad, and Los Angeles. The recording was interrupted by injury, legal disputes, and a highly publicized hip hop dispute. During this time, Wallace also worked with pop singer Michael Jackson on the album HIStory. Lil' Cease later claimed that while Wallace met Jackson, he was forced to stay behind, with Wallace citing that he did not "trust Michael with kids" following the 1993 child sexual abuse allegations against Jackson. Engineer John Van Nest and producer Dallas Austin recalled the sessions differently, saying that Wallace was eager to meet Jackson and nearly burst into tears upon doing so.
On March 23, 1996, Wallace was arrested outside a Manhattan nightclub for chasing and threatening to kill two fans seeking autographs, smashing the windows of their taxicab, and punching one of them. He pleaded guilty to second-degree harassment and was sentenced to 100 hours of community service. In mid-1996, he was arrested at his home in Teaneck, New Jersey, for drug and weapons possession charges.
In June 1996, Shakur released "Hit 'Em Up", a diss track in which he claimed to have had sex with Faith Evans, who was estranged from Wallace at the time, and that Wallace had copied his style and image. Wallace referenced the first claim on Jay-Z's "Brooklyn's Finest", in which he raps: "If Faye have twins, she'd probably have two 'Pacs. Get it? 2Pac's?" However, he did not directly respond to the track, stating in a 1997 radio interview that it was "not [his] style" to respond.
Shakur was shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996, and died six days later. Rumors of Wallace's involvement with Shakur's murder spread. In a 2002 Los Angeles Times series titled "Who Killed Tupac Shakur?", based on police reports and multiple sources, Chuck Philips reported that the shooting was carried out by a Compton gang, the Southside Crips, to avenge a beating by Shakur hours earlier, and that Wallace had paid for the gun. Los Angeles Times editor Mark Duvoisin wrote that "Philips' story has withstood all challenges to its accuracy, ... [and] remains the definitive account of the Shakur slaying." Wallace's family denied the report, producing documents purporting to show that he was in New York and New Jersey at the time. However, The New York Times called the documents inconclusive, stating:
The pages purport to be three computer printouts from Daddy's House, indicating that Wallace was in the studio recording a song called Nasty Boy on the night Shakur was shot. They indicate that Wallace wrote half the session, was in and out/sat around and laid down a ref, shorthand for a reference vocal, the equivalent of a first take. But nothing indicates when the documents were created. And Louis Alfred, the recording engineer listed on the sheets, said in an interview that he remembered recording the song with Wallace in a late-night session, not during the day. He could not recall the date of the session but said it was likely not the night Shakur was shot. We would have heard about it, Mr. Alfred said."
Evans remembered her husband calling her on the night of Shakur's death and crying from shock. She said: "I think it's fair to say he was probably afraid, given everything that was going on at that time and all the hype that was put on this so-called beef that he didn't really have in his heart against anyone." Wayne Barrow, Wallace's co-manager at the time, said Wallace was recording the track "Nasty Girl" the night Shakur was shot. Shortly after Shakur's death, he met with Snoop Dogg, who claimed that Wallace played the song "Somebody Gotta Die" for him, in which Snoop Dogg was mentioned, and declared he never hated Shakur.
On October 29, 1996, Evans gave birth to Wallace's son, Christopher "C.J." Wallace Jr. The following month, Junior M.A.F.I.A. member Lil' Kim released her debut album, Hard Core, under Wallace's direction while the two were having a "love affair". Lil' Kim recalled being Wallace's "biggest fan" and "his pride and joy". In a 2012 interview, Lil' Kim said Wallace had prevented her from making a remix of the Jodeci single "Love U 4 Life" by locking her in a room. According to her, Wallace said that she was not "gonna go do no song with them," likely because of the group's affiliation with Tupac and Death Row Records.
1997: Life After Death and car accident
During the recording for his second album, Life After Death, Wallace and Lil' Cease were arrested for smoking marijuana in public and had their car repossessed. Wallace chose a Chevrolet Lumina rental car as a substitute, despite Lil' Cease's objections. The car had brake problems but Wallace dismissed them. The car collided with a rail, shattering Wallace's left leg and Lil' Cease's jaw. Wallace spent months in a hospital following the accident; he was temporarily confined to a wheelchair, forced to use a cane, and had to complete therapy. Despite his hospitalization, he continued to work on the album. The accident was referred to in the lyrics of "Long Kiss Goodnight": "Ya still tickle me, I used to be as strong as Ripple be / Til Lil' Cease crippled me."
In January 1997, Wallace was ordered to pay US$41,000 in damages following an incident involving a friend of a concert promoter who claimed Wallace and his entourage beat him following a dispute in May 1995. He faced criminal assault charges for the incident, which remains unresolved, but all robbery charges were dropped. Following the events, Wallace spoke of a desire to focus on his "peace of mind" and his family and friends.
In February 1997, Wallace traveled to California to promote Life After Death and record a music video for its lead single, "Hypnotize". On March 5, he gave a radio interview with The Dog House on KYLD in San Francisco. In the interview, he stated that he had hired a security detail since he feared for his safety, but that this was due to being a celebrity figure in general and not specifically because he was a rapper.
On March 8, Wallace presented an award to Toni Braxton at the 11th Annual Soul Train Music Awards in Los Angeles and was booed by some of the audience. He then attended an after-party hosted by Vibe and Qwest Records at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Guests included Evans, Aaliyah, Combs, and members of the Crips and Bloods gangs. The next day at 12:30 a.m. PST, after the fire department closed the party early due to overcrowding, Wallace left with his entourage in two GMC Suburbans to return to his hotel. He traveled in the front passenger seat alongside associates Damion "D-Roc" Butler, Lil' Cease, and driver Gregory "G-Money" Young. Combs traveled in the other vehicle with three bodyguards. The two trucks were trailed by a Chevrolet Blazer carrying Bad Boy director of security Paul Offord.
By 12:45 a.m., the streets were crowded with people leaving the party. Wallace's truck stopped at a red light 50 yards (46 m) from the Petersen Automotive Museum, and a black Chevy Impala pulled up alongside it. The Impala's driver, an unidentified African-American man dressed in a blue suit and bow tie, rolled down his window, drew a 9 mm blue-steel pistol, and fired at Wallace's car. Four bullets hit Wallace and his entourage subsequently rushed him to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where doctors performed an emergency thoracotomy, but he was pronounced dead at 1:15 a.m. He was 24 years old. His autopsy, which was released 15 years after his death, showed that only the final shot was fatal; it entered through his right hip and struck his colon, liver, heart, and left lung before stopping in his left shoulder.
Wallace's funeral was held at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel in Manhattan on March 18. There were around 350 mourners at the funeral, including Lil' Cease, Queen Latifah, Flava Flav, Mary J. Blige, Lil' Kim, Run–D.M.C., DJ Kool Herc, Treach, Busta Rhymes, Salt-N-Pepa, DJ Spinderella, Foxy Brown, and Sister Souljah. David Dinkins and Clive Davis also attended the funeral. After the funeral, his body was cremated and the ashes were given to his family.
Sixteen days after his death, Wallace's double-disc second album was released as planned with the shortened title of Life After Death and hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 charts, after making a premature appearance at No. 176 due to street-date violations. The record album featured a much wider range of guests and producers than its predecessor. It gained strong reviews and in 2000 was certified Diamond, the highest RIAA certification awarded to a solo hip hop album.
Its lead single, "Hypnotize", was the last music video recording in which Wallace would participate. His biggest chart success was with its follow-up "Mo Money Mo Problems", featuring Sean Combs (under the rap alias "Puff Daddy") and Mase. Both singles reached No. 1 in the Hot 100, making Wallace the first artist to achieve this feat posthumously. The third single, "Sky's The Limit", featuring the band 112, was noted for its use of children in the music video, directed by Spike Jonze, who were used to portray Wallace and his contemporaries, including Combs, Lil' Kim, and Busta Rhymes. Wallace was named Artist of the Year and "Hypnotize" Single of the Year by Spin magazine in December 1997.
In mid-1997, Combs released his debut album, No Way Out, which featured Wallace on five songs, notably on the third single "Victory". The most prominent single from the record album was "I'll Be Missing You", featuring Combs, Faith Evans and 112, which was dedicated to Wallace's memory. At the 1998 Grammy Awards, Life After Death and its first two singles received nominations in the rap category. The album award was won by Combs's No Way Out and "I'll Be Missing You" won the award in the category of Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group in which "Mo Money Mo Problems" was nominated.
In 1996, Wallace started putting together a hip hop supergroup, the Commission, which consisted himself, Jay-Z, Lil' Cease, Combs, and Charli Baltimore. The Commission was mentioned by Wallace in the lyrics of "What's Beef" on Life After Death and "Victory" from No Way Out, but a Commission album was never completed. A track on Duets: The Final Chapter, "Whatchu Want (The Commission)", featuring Jay-Z, was based on the group.
In December 1999, Bad Boy released Born Again. The album consisted of previously unreleased material mixed with new guest appearances, including many artists Wallace had never collaborated with in his lifetime. It gained some positive reviews, but received criticism for its unlikely pairings; The Source describing it as "compiling some of the most awkward collaborations of his career". Nevertheless, the album sold 2 million copies. Wallace appeared on Michael Jackson's 2001 album, Invincible. Over the course of time, his vocals were heard on hit songs such as "Foolish" and "Realest Niggas" by Ashanti in 2002, and the song "Runnin' (Dying to Live)" with Shakur the following year. In 2005, Duets: The Final Chapter continued the pattern started on Born Again, which was criticized for the lack of significant vocals by Wallace on some of its songs. Its lead single "Nasty Girl" became Wallace's first UK No. 1 single. Combs and Voletta Wallace have stated the album will be the last release primarily featuring new material.
Wallace mostly rapped in a deep tone described by Rolling Stone as a "thick, jaunty grumble", which went even deeper on Life After Death. He was often accompanied on songs with ad libs from Sean "Puffy" Combs. In The Source's "Unsigned Hype" column, his style was described as "cool, nasal, and filtered, to bless his own material". AllMusic described Wallace as having "a talent for piling multiple rhymes on top of one another in quick succession". Time magazine wrote that he rapped with an ability to "make multi-syllabic rhymes sound smooth", while Krims described his rhythmic style as "effusive". Before starting a verse, Wallace sometimes used onomatopoeic vocables to warm up his voice, for example "uhhh" at the beginning of "Hypnotize" and "Big Poppa", and "what" after certain rhymes in songs such as "My Downfall".
Lateef of Latyrx notes that Wallace had "intense and complex flows". Fredro Starr of Onyx said that he was "a master of the flow", and Bishop Lamont stated that he mastered "all the hemispheres of the music". Wallace also often used the single-line rhyme scheme to add variety and interest to his flow. Big Daddy Kane suggested that Wallace did not need a large vocabulary to impress listeners, stating that he "just put his words together a slick way and it worked real good for him". Wallace was known to compose lyrics in his head rather than write them down on paper, in a similar way to Jay-Z. He would occasionally vary from his usual style. On "Playa Hater", he sang in a slow falsetto. On "Notorious Thugs", his collaboration with Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, he modified his style to match the rapid rhyme flow of the group.
Themes and lyrics
Wallace's lyrical topics and themes included mafioso tales ("Niggas Bleed"), his drug-dealing past ("Ten Crack Commandments"), materialistic bragging ("Hypnotize"), humor ("Just Playing (Dreams)"), and romance ("Me & My Bitch"). In 2004, Rolling Stone named him as "one of the few young male songwriters in any pop style writing credible love songs". In the book How to Rap, rapper Guerilla Black described how Wallace was able to both "glorify the upper echelon" and "[make] you feel his struggle". According to The New York Times journalist Touré in 1994, Wallace's lyrics "[mixed] autobiographical details about crime and violence with emotional honesty". Marriott of The New York Times wrote in 1997 that Wallace's lyrics were not strictly autobiographical and that he "had a knack for exaggeration that increased sales". Wallace wrote that his debut album was "a big pie, with each slice indicating a different point in [his] life involving bitches and niggaz... from the beginning to the end".
Rolling Stone described Ready to Die as a contrast of "bleak" street visions and being "full of high-spirited fun, bringing the pleasure principle back to hip-hop". AllMusic write of "a sense of doom" in some of his songs, and the New York Times noted some songs being "laced with paranoia". Wallace described himself as feeling "broke and depressed" when he made his debut. The final song on Wallace's debut album, "Suicidal Thoughts", featured his "character" contemplating suicide and concluded with him doing it. On Life After Death, Wallace's lyrics went "deeper". Krims explained how upbeat, dance-oriented tracks (which featured less heavily on his debut) alternate with "reality rap" songs on the record and suggested that he was "going pimp" through some of the lyrical topics of the former. XXL magazine wrote that Wallace "revamped his image" through the portrayal of himself between the albums, going from "mid-level hustler" on his debut to "drug lord" on his second album.
AllMusic wrote that the success of Ready to Die is "mostly due to Wallace's skill as a storyteller". In 1994, Rolling Stone described his ability in this technique as painting "a sonic picture so vibrant that you're transported right to the scene". On Life After Death, he notably demonstrated this skill on the song "I Got a Story to Tell", creating a story as a rap for the first half of the song and then retelling the same story "for his boys" in conversation form.
Considered one of the greatest rappers of all time, Wallace was described by AllMusic as "the savior of East Coast hip-hop". The Source magazine named him the greatest rapper of all time in its 150th issue in 2002. In 2003, when XXL magazine asked several hip hop artists to list their five favorite MCs, Wallace appeared on more rappers' lists than anyone else. In 2006, MTV ranked him at No. 3 on their list of The Greatest MCs of All Time, calling him possibly "the most skillful ever on the mic". Editors of About.com ranked him at No. 3 on their list of the Top 50 MCs of Our Time (1987–2007). In 2012, The Source ranked him No. 3 on their list of the Top 50 Lyrical Leaders of all time. Rolling Stone has referred to him as the "greatest rapper that ever lived". In 2015, Billboard named Wallace as the greatest rapper of all time.
Wallace's lyrics have been sampled and quoted by a variety of artists, including Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Alicia Keys, Fat Joe, Nelly, Ja Rule, Eminem, Lil Wayne, Game, Clinton Sparks, Michael Jackson, and Usher. At the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards, Combs and Snoop Dogg paid tribute to Wallace by hiring an orchestra to play while the vocals from "Juicy" and "Warning" played on the arena speakers. At the 2005 VH1 Hip Hop Honors, a tribute to Wallace headlined the show.
Wallace had begun to promote a clothing line called Brooklyn Mint, which was to produce plus-sized clothing, but it fell dormant after he died. In 2004, his managers Mark Pitts and Wayne Barrow launched the clothing line with help from Jay-Z, selling T-shirts with images of Wallace on them. A portion of the proceeds go to the Christopher Wallace Foundation and to Jay-Z's Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation. In 2005, Voletta Wallace hired branding and licensing agency Wicked Cow Entertainment to guide the estate's licensing efforts. Wallace-branded products on the market include action figures, blankets, and cell phone content.
The Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation holds an annual black-tie dinner ("B.I.G. Night Out") to raise funds for children's school equipment and to honor Wallace's memory. For this particular event, because it is a children's schools' charity, "B.I.G." is also said to stand for "Books Instead of Guns".
There is a large portrait mural of Wallace as Mao Zedong on Fulton Street in Brooklyn a half-mile west from Wallace's old block. A fan petitioned to have the corner of Fulton Street and St. James Place, near Wallace's childhood home renamed in his honor, garnering support from local businesses and attracting more than 560 signatures.
A large portrait of Wallace features prominently in the Netflix series Luke Cage, due to the fact that he served as muse for the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's version of Marvel Comics character Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes.
Notorious is a 2009 biographical film about Wallace and his life that stars rapper Jamal Woolard as Wallace. The film was directed by George Tillman Jr. and distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Producers included Sean Combs, Wallace's former managers Wayne Barrow and Mark Pitts, as well as Voletta Wallace. On January 16, 2009, the movie's debut at the Grand 18 theater in Greensboro, North Carolina was postponed after a man was shot in the parking lot before the show. The film received mixed reviews and grossed over $44 million worldwide.
In early October 2007, open casting calls for the role of Wallace began. Actors, rappers and unknowns all tried out. Beanie Sigel auditioned for the role, but was not picked. Sean Kingston claimed that he would play the role of Wallace, but producers denied it. Eventually, it was announced that rapper Jamal Woolard was chosen to play Wallace while Wallace's son, Christopher Wallace Jr. was cast to play Wallace as a child. Other cast members include Angela Bassett as Voletta Wallace, Derek Luke as Sean Combs, Antonique Smith as Faith Evans, Naturi Naughton as Lil' Kim, and Anthony Mackie as Tupac Shakur. Bad Boy also released a soundtrack album to the film on January 13, 2009; the album contains many of Wallace's hit singles, including "Hypnotize" and "Juicy", as well as rarities.
Posthumous studio albums
- Conspiracy with Junior M.A.F.I.A. (1995)
Posthumous collaboration albums
- The King & I with Faith Evans (2017)
- The Show (1995) as himself
- Rhyme & Reason (1997 documentary) as himself
- Biggie & Tupac (2002 documentary) archive footage
- Tupac Resurrection (2004 documentary) archive footage
- Notorious B.I.G. Bigger Than Life (2007 documentary) archive footage
- Notorious (2009) archive footage
- All Eyez on Me (2017) archive footage
- Quincy (2018 documentary) archive footage
- Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G. (2017 documentary) archive footage
- New York Undercover (1995) as himself
- Martin (1995) as himself
- Who Shot Biggie & Tupac? (2017)
- Unsolved (2018)
Awards and nominations
|Award||Year of ceremony||Nominee/work||Category||Result|
|The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards ||1995||The Notorious B.I.G.||New Artist of the Year, Solo||Won|
|The Notorious B.I.G.||Lyricist of the Year||Won|
|The Notorious B.I.G.||Live Performer of the Year||Won|
|Ready To Die||Album of the Year||Won|
|Billboard Music Awards ||1995||The Notorious B.I.G.||Rap Artist of the Year||Won|
|"One More Chance/Stay with Me (Remix)" (with Faith Evans)||Rap Single of the Year||Won|
|1997||Life After Death||R&B Album||Won|
|Grammy Awards ||1996||"Big Poppa"||Best Rap Solo Performance||Nominated|
|1998||"Hypnotize"||Best Rap Solo Performance||Nominated|
|"Mo Money Mo Problems" (with Mase and Puff Daddy)||Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group||Nominated|
|Life After Death||Best Rap Album||Nominated|
|MTV Video Music Awards ||1997||"Hypnotize"||Best Rap Video||Won|
|1998||"Mo Money Mo Problems" (with Mase and Puff Daddy)||Best Rap Video||Nominated|
|Soul Train Music Awards ||1996||"One More Chance/Stay With Me (Remix)" (with Faith Evans)||R&B/Soul or Rap Song of the Year||Won|
|1998||Life After Death||Best R&B/Soul Album - Male||Won|
|Life After Death||R&B/Soul or Rap Album of the Year||Nominated|
|"Mo Money Mo Problems" (with Mase and Puff Daddy)||Best R&B/Soul or Rap Music Video||Nominated|
|Black Reel Awards ||2004||"Runnin' (Dying to Live)" (with Tupac Shakur)||Best Original or Adapted Song||Nominated|
|ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards ||2005||"Runnin' (Dying to Live)" (with Tupac Shakur)||Top Soundtrack Song of the Year||Won|
|2017||The Notorious B.I.G.||ASCAP Founders Award||Won|
|2020||"Sicko Mode"||Winning Rap and R&B/Hip-Hop Songs||Won|
|Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ||2020||The Notorious B.I.G.||Performers||Won|
- "Notorious B.I.G: In His Own Words, And Those of His Friends". MTV.com. March 7, 2007. Archived from the original on March 11, 2007. Retrieved March 11, 2007.
- "The 10 Greatest Rappers of All Time". Billboard. November 12, 2015.
- Huey, Steve. "Ready to Die > Overview". AllMusic. Retrieved October 7, 2006.
- Huey, Steve. "Notorious B.I.G. > Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved October 7, 2006.
- "Wallace, Christopher (1973–1997)", in Gerald D. Jaynes, ed., Encyclopedia of African American Society, Volume 1 (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2005), p 867.
- "Top 100 Albums". RIAA.com. May 4, 2006. Archived from the original on December 21, 2006. Retrieved December 7, 2006.
- "Top Selling Artists". RIAA.com. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
- "The Notorious B.I.G. Scores Fifth Million-Selling Album". Billboard. February 16, 2018.
- "Notorious B.I.G., 'Juicy'". The 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time. Rolling Stone. December 5, 2012. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
- The Greatest MCs of All Time Archived July 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. MTV. Retrieved December 26, 2006.
- Lang, Holly (2007). The Notorious B.I.G: A Biography. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 1–2. ISBN 978-0-313-34156-4.
- Coker, Cheo H. (March 8, 2005). "Excerpt: Unbelievable – The Life, Death, and Afterlife of The Notorious B.I.G." Vibe. Archived from the original on February 16, 2009.
- Franklin, Marcus (January 17, 2009). "Much change in Biggie Smalls' neighborhood". The Insider. Associated Press. Archived from the original on February 12, 2010. Retrieved October 10, 2010.
- "Biggie's 'One-Room Shack' in Bed-Stuy Now up for Sale". Bed-stuy.patch.com. April 3, 2013. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
- Sullivan, Randall (December 5, 2005). "The Unsolved Mystery of the Notorious B.I.G." Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 29, 2009. Retrieved October 7, 2006.
- Touré (December 18, 1994). "Pop Music; Biggie Smalls, Rap's Man of the Moment" The New York Times; retrieved March 26, 2008.
- Huey, Steve. "Notorious B.I.G. > Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved October 7, 2006.
- Marriott, Michel (March 17, 1997). "The Short Life of a Rap Star, Shadowed by Many Troubles". The New York Times. Retrieved March 26, 2008.
- "Police May Release Sketch of Biggie Gunman". MTV.com. MTV News. March 11, 1997. Retrieved December 23, 2006.
- "Notorious BIG Photos – Biography". Atlantic Records. Archived from the original on July 5, 2008. Retrieved November 30, 2006.
- Swihart, Stanton. "Blue Funk > Overview". AllMusic. Retrieved October 6, 2006.
- Duncan, Andrea et al. The Making of Ready to Die:Family Business. XXL, March 9, 2006. Retrieved March 18, 2007
- Heller, Corinne (March 9, 2012). "Notorious B.I.G.'s daughter makes radio debut on 15th anniversary of his death". KABC-TV. Archived from the original on February 23, 2014. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
- Lang, Holly (2007). The Notorious B.I.G.: A Biography. Greenwood. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-313-34156-4.
- "The Notorious B.I.G. releases his autobiographical debut 'Ready to Die.'". Rolling Stone. June 1, 1995.
- Scott, Cathy (2000). The Murder of Biggie Smalls. New York City: St. Martin's Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-312-26620-2.
- Who's the Man? (Original Soundtrack) at AllMusic
- "Craig Mack – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
- Chappell, Kevin (April 1999). "After Biggie: Faith Evans has a new love, a new baby, a new career – singer". Ebony.
- "The Notorious B.I.G. – Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
- "Artist Chart History". Billboard.com. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved October 7, 2006.
- "RIAA searchable database". RIAA. Archived from the original on October 15, 2006. Retrieved October 7, 2006.
- Ready to Die (Explicit) Tower Records (Muze data). Retrieved December 10, 2006.
- Tyrangiel, Josh (November 13, 2006). "The All-TIME Albums" Time. Retrieved December 10, 2006.
- Huey, Steve. "Ready to Die > Overview". AllMusic. Retrieved October 7, 2006.
- "American certifications – Notorious B.I.G. – One More Change". Recording Industry Association of America.
- "Best-Selling Records of 1995". Billboard. Vol. 108 no. 3. BPI Communications. January 20, 1996. p. 56. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
- "Busta Rhymes Couldn't Believe It When He Saw Biggie Giving Away Copies of Ready to Die". egotripland.com. September 14, 2012. Archived from the original on April 10, 2015.
- Ziegbe, Mawuse (June 16, 2010). "Tupac And Biggie Probably Celebrated Birthdays Together, Lil' Cease Says". MTV.
- Kyles, Yohance (January 19, 2015). "Yukmouth Talks Tupac's Impact On Hip Hop; Says Pac Influenced Biggie's Style". allhiphop.com.
- Muhammad, Latifah (March 8, 2011). "Shaq Remembers Friendship with Notorious B.I.G." The Boombox.
- Harris, Christopher (April 25, 2015). "Daz Dillinger Details Recording With The Notorious B.I.G." HipHopDX.com. Archived from the original on April 25, 2015. Retrieved April 25, 2015.
- Lane, Hai, Lydia Junior M.A.F.I.A. Biography AllMusic. Retrieved February 18, 2007.
- "Up In The Source: Looking Back at The Notorious B.I.G.'s Covers of 'The Source Magazine'". The Source. May 21, 2019. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
- Coleman, C. Vernon II (March 29, 2019). "A History of Rappers Calling Themselves the King of New York". XXL. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
- "The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards 1995". The 411 online. Archived from the original on November 19, 2006. Retrieved December 7, 2006.
- Bruno, Anthony The Murders of gangsta rappers Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. Archived April 7, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Court TV Crime Library. Retrieved January 24, 2007.
- "Notorious B.I.G." MTV.com. KYLD. Archived from the original (transcript of his last interview) on September 23, 2003.
- "Convicted Killer Confesses to Shooting West Coast Rapper Tupac Shakur". The Baltimore Sun. July 13, 2012. Archived from the original on August 29, 2012. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
- Carney, Thomas. Live from Death Row. PBS.org. Frontline. WGBH-TV. Retrieved December 9, 2006.
- Caramanica, Jon et al. (April 2003). "The Making of Life After Death: Many Men". XXL. Retrieved January 6, 2007.
- The Notorious B.I.G. – Bio. Billboard. Retrieved October 29, 2010.
- Ortiz, Edwin (October 1, 2013). "Lil Cease Says The Notorious B.I.G. Wouldn't Let Him into Michael Jackson Recording Session". Complex.
- François Allard; Richard Lecocq (October 4, 2018). Michael Jackson: All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track. Octopus Books. pp. 684–. ISBN 978-1-78840-123-4.
- Philips, Chuck (September 6, 2002). "Who Killed Tupac Shakur?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- Philips, Chuck (September 7, 2002). "How Vegas police probe floundered in Tupac Shakur case". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
- Duvoisin, Mark (January 12, 2006). "L.A. Times Responds to Biggie Story". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
- Silveran, Stephen M. (September 9, 2002). "B.I.G. Family Denies Tupac Murder Claim". People. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
- Leland, John (October 7, 2002). "New Theories Stir Speculation On Rap Deaths". New York Times. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
- Reid, Shaheem (September 10, 2002). "Faith Evans Says Biggie Cried When He Heard Tupac Was Shot". MTV.
- "Snoop Dogg Discusses Conflict with 2Pac and Friendship with Biggie". May 14, 2013.
- Markman, Rob (March 9, 2012). "Notorious B.I.G. Would Have Worked With Kanye West, Lil' Kim Says". MTV.
- Markman, Rob (March 15, 2012). "Notorious B.I.G. 'Locked' Lil' Kim In A Room To Prevent Jodeci Collabo". MTV.com.
- Nelson Jr., Keith (October 2, 2013). "EXCLUSIVE: Lil Cease Tells The Story Of How He Crippled The Notorious B.I.G. (VIDEO)". allhiphop.com.
- Harling, Danielle (February 9, 2015). "Lil Cease Says The Notorious B.I.G. Wrote A Portion Of "Life After Death" While Hospitalized". HipHopDx. Archived from the original on February 12, 2015. Retrieved February 11, 2015.
- "Notorious B.I.G. Loses Lawsuit". MTV.com. MTV News. January 27, 1997. Retrieved December 23, 2006.
- Brown, Jake (May 24, 2004). Ready to Die: The Story of Biggie Smalls Notorious B.I.G. Colossus Books. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-9749779-3-5.
- "Biggie Told Interviewer He Worried About Safety". MTV News. March 12, 1997. Retrieved May 6, 2008.
- Purdum, Todd S. (March 10, 1997). "Rapper Is Shot to Death in Echo of Killing 6 Months Ago". The New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2009.
- Sullivan, Randall (2013) . LAbyrinth: A Detective Investigates the Murders of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. (Digital ed.). Canongate. Chapter Six. ISBN 9781782114109.
- Horowitz, Steven J. (December 7, 2012). "Notorious B.I.G. Autopsy Report Released". HipHop DX. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
- "Rappers, fans pay final respects to Biggie Smalls". March 18, 1997. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
- "Biggie's body is carried through his Brooklyn home, passing thousands of fans in 1997", NY Daily News, March 19, 1997.
- Birchmeier, Jason Life After Death review AllMusic. Retrieved January 8, 2007.
- "B.I.G. Gets Props from Spin". Rolling Stone. December 7, 1997. Archived from the original on August 17, 2007. Retrieved December 26, 2006.
- "1998 Grammy Awards – Rap music winners". CNN. 1998. Archived from the original on August 23, 2000. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
- Born Again Tower Records (Muze data). Retrieved December 10, 2006.
- "Duets: The Final Chapter Music Review". Rolling Stone. January 12, 2006. Archived from the original on July 16, 2007. Retrieved December 10, 2006.
- Duets: The Final Chapter > Overview AllMusic. Retrieved December 10, 2006.
- Egere-Cooper, Matilda (January 27, 2006). "Notorious B.I.G.: an album too far?". The Independent. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
- Gibsone, Harriet (February 3, 2017). "Faith Evans and Notorious BIG duet album due out in May" – via www.theguardian.com.
- "Life After Death review". Rolling Stone. December 7, 1997. Archived from the original on February 20, 2007. Retrieved January 7, 2007.
- "Notorious B.I.G.:Biography". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on February 16, 2006. Retrieved December 26, 2006.
- "Biggie Smalls Unsigned Hype". The Source. Archived from the original on February 4, 2013. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
- Krims, Adam (2000). Rap Music and the Poetics of Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-521-63447-2.
- Smith, William E. (2005). Hip-hop as Performance and Ritual: Biography and Ethnography in Underground Hip Hop. Trafford Publishing. p. 163. ISBN 978-1-4120-5394-5.
- Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 100.
- Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 112.
- Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. x.
- Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 53.
- Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 144.
- Andrea Duncan (March 9, 2006). The Making of Ready to Die: Family Business XXL. Retrieved March 18, 2008.
- Christgau, Robert Life After Death review Consumer Guide Reviews. Retrieved January 7, 2007.
- Notorious B.I.G.: Still the Illest Archived December 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. MTV. Retrieved December 26, 2006.
- Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 14.
- Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 44.
- Brown, Jake (May 24, 2004). Ready to Die: The Story of Biggie Smalls Notorious B.I.G. Colossus Books. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-9749779-3-5.
- Pareles, Jon (March 10, 1997). "Rapping, Living and Dying a Gangsta Life". The New York Times. Retrieved March 26, 2008.
- Ex, Kris (November 6, 2006). "The History of Cocaine Rap:All White". XXL magazine. Retrieved February 10, 2007.
- Osorio, Kim (March 2002). "Biggie Smalls Is The Illest". The Source.
- "Music Profiles – The Notorious B.I.G." BBC News Online. Archived from the original on June 11, 2007. Retrieved January 27, 2007.
- "50 Greatest Rappers of All Time – The 50 Greatest MCs of All Time". Rap.about.com. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
- Blue, Johny (July 2012). "Top 50 Lyrical Leaders: 3. The Notorious B.I.G.". The Source. New York City: L. Londell McMillan.
- "Notorious B.I.G., 'Juicy'". The 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time. Rolling Stone. December 5, 2012. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
- Moss, Corey (August 25, 2005). "Green Day Clean Up, Kelly Clarkson Gets Wet, 50 Rips Into Fat Joe At VMAs". MTV News. Retrieved February 27, 2007.
- "VH1 to give Notorious B.I.G. Hip Hop Honors" (June 25, 2005). Associated Press. Retrieved February 17, 2006.
- Strong, Nolan (February 8, 2005). "B.I.G.'s Brooklyn Mint Clothing Line Debuts, Jay-Z Gets Down". AllHipHop. Retrieved September 7, 2007.
- "Properties Available for Licensing". The Licensing Letter. EPM. July 17, 2006.
- Wolfe, Roman (June 22, 2006). "Limited Action Figures of B.I.G., Public Enemy Coming This Fall". AllHipHop. Retrieved September 7, 2007.
- Reid, Shaheem; Calloway, Sway (March 21, 2003). "Biggie, Jam Master Jay, Left Eye and Their Mothers Honored at B.I.G. Night Out". MTV News. Retrieved August 1, 2006.
- Stewart, Henry. "Should We Name a Street After Biggie?".
- Director Selected for Biggie Biopic, Diddy to Executive Produce Archived January 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine XXL (August 13, 2007). Retrieved November 28, 2007.
- "Shooting erupts at Notorious movie". Greensboro News & Record. January 16, 2009. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
- "Notorious (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
- Notorious Movie Reviews, Pictures. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
- Melena Ryzik (October 8, 2007) Dreaming Big About Acting Big The New York Times. Retrieved November 28, 2007.
- Beanie Sigel Auditions for Role of Biggie Smalls in New Biopic Archived January 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine (October 3, 2007). XXL. Retrieved November 28, 2007.
- "Sean Kingston: Big, But Not B.I.G." Vibe. August 30, 2007. Archived from the original on November 5, 2007. Retrieved November 28, 2007.
- Brooklyn Rapper Gravy to Play Biggie in Upcoming Biopic Archived March 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine (March 6, 2008). XXL. Retrieved November 28, 2007.
- Wallace, Voletta, "Christopher Wallace Jr.". Interview Magazine. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
- Gravy for Biggie Archived March 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine (March 6, 2008). Joblo.com. Retrieved March 6, 2008.
- Reid, Shaheem (December 3, 2008). "'Notorious' Soundtrack Details Revealed: Features Jay-Z, Jadakiss, Faith Evans, Biggie's Son". MTV News. Retrieved December 27, 2008.
- 2nd Annual Source Awards
- 2005 ASCAP Awards
- 2017 ASCAP Awards
- 2020 ASCAP Awards
- Coker, Cheo Hodari (2004). Unbelievable: The Life, Death, and Afterlife of the Notorious B.I.G. New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0-609-80835-1.
- Wallace, Voletta; McKenzie, Tremell; Evans, Faith (foreword) (2005). Biggie: Voletta Wallace Remembers Her Son, Christopher Wallace, aka Notorious B.I.G. Atria. ISBN 978-0-7434-7020-9.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Notorious B.I.G..|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: The Notorious B.I.G.|
- "The Notorious B.I.G. collected news and commentary". The New York Times.
- The Notorious B.I.G. on IMDb
- FBI Records: The Vault – Christopher (Biggie Smalls) Wallace at vault.fbi.gov