The Life and Times of Christopher Wallace 25years after by – Timilehin Salu
by Rapjoint Lagos
Christopher George Latore Wallace was born on May 21, 1972. He is better known by his stage names the Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls, or simply Biggie. He was an American rapper and songwriter. Wallace was born at St. Mary's Hospital in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on May 21, 1972. He was 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.
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. His earliest stage name was MC CWest. At his request, Wallace was 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 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 in 1989, Wallace dropped out of high school and became more involved in crime. That same year 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.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City, Wallace signed to Sean "Puffy" Combs's 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. Wallace 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.
Rooted in the New York rap scene and gangsta rap traditions, he is widely considered one of the greatest rappers of all time. Wallace became known for his distinctive laid-back lyrical delivery, offsetting the lyrics' often grim content. His music was often semi-autobiographical, telling of hardship and criminality, but also of debauchery and celebration.
Biggie had earlier had a daughter with his earlier girlfriend Jan Jackson named T’yanna. He later dated Lil Kim; a member of his crew -Juniour MAFIA. He later met Faith Evans and they got married just eight days after. He was quoted saying “I married her after knowing her for eight days and I was happy. That was my baby,” he said to Vibe magazine. He conceded that the speed of their courtship did not provide a solid foundation. “We should have got to know each other and then got married”.
Wallace was murdered in a drive-by shooting while visiting Los Angeles on March 9, 1997. The assailant remains unidentified. The murder was thought to be the culmination of an ongoing feud between rap music artists from the East and West coasts. Just six months earlier, rapper Tupac Shakur was killed when he was shot while in his car in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. Ironically, Wallace’s death came only weeks before his new album, titled Life After Death, was scheduled to be released.
The murder of Biggie has never been solved, though it has been suggested that either Marion “Suge” Knight, the former head of Death Row Records, Shakur’s label, or the Crips gang may be responsible. Knight was also shot (but not wounded seriously) in the fatal Las Vegas attack on Shakur and is rumored to have engineered a retaliatory strike against Wallace, whom he held responsible for the Las Vegas shooting.
With two more posthumous albums released, Wallace has 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, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Before his death, Biggie had plans to begin a clothing line called Brooklyn Mint to cater for plus size customers but this suffered a setback as a result of his death.
On the 16 September 2020, B.I.G.’s crown was auctioned off for $600,000 with proceeds going to his foundation, “Think Big”- with the BIG representing Books instead of Guns. The car in which Notorious B.I.G. was fatally shot was also put up for auction, with the seller of the GMC Suburban supposedly seeking £1.25 million.
Although life might have been snuffed out of the “King of New York” in his prime, we are left to ponder on what the mic god might have achieved if he had been around for longer. Make no mistake though, the only Christopher we recognize in this rap game is Wallace.
Life after death: How the Notorious B.I.G. lives on 25 years after his murder – CHUCK Anold
The Unsolved Mystery of the Notorious B.I.G – Randall Sullivan