This Day in Hip Hop and Rap History
Host: Chuck D w/ Duke Eatmon & Ron Maskell
May 22nd, 2012
May 21st – The Notorious B.I.G. was born Christopher George Latore Wallace in Brooklyn, New York, on this day in 1972.
As a teen, The Notorious B.I.G. attended George Westinghouse Career And Technical Education High School were Jay-Z and Busta Rhymes were also students.
The Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie Smalls after the 1975 Sidney Poitier/Bill Cosby comedy flick “Let’s Do It Again”, began rapping as a teen.
He recorded a demo tape that found its way into the hands of DJ and Source Magazine editor Mister Cee who featured it in the rap periodical’s “Unsigned Hype” column.
Uptown Records producer Sean “Puffy” Combs heard it and promptly secured the Brooklynite a recording deal with the label.
After Combs’ relationship with Uptown ended, he launched his own label called Bad Boy Records which was distributed by Arista.
Combs would take Biggie with him to Bad Boy and released his multi-platinum debut album “Ready To Die” in 1994.
“Ready To Die” spawned the smash hits “Juicy”, “Big Poppa” and “One More Chance” as well as fan favorite album cuts like “Gimme The Loot”, “Things Done Changed”, “The What?” (featuring Method Man) and “Who Shot Ya?”.
Biggie was instantly hailed as one of rap’s new gifted lyricists. He won several awards for “Ready To Die” which was also nominated for a Grammy.
The following year he signed his childhood friends Junior M.A.F.I.A. to his Undeal label that he launched with another old friend, Lance “Un” Rivera.
Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s members at times have included Lil’ Kim, Lil’ Cease, MC Klepto, Nino Brown, Daniel Heron, Chico Del Vee, Blake C and Bugsy.
Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s debut album, “Conspiracy”, was released in 1995 and produced the smash hit anthem “Get Money.”
Meanwhile, Lil’ Kim” and Lil’ Cease would go on to successful solo careers.
While in Los Angeles, California to do promotion for his upcoming album “Life After Death”, on the 8th of March in 1997, he presented an award at The 11th Annual Soul Train Awards. After the ceremony, B.I.G. attended an after-party hosted by Vibe Magazine and Qwest Records, both owned by Quincy Jones. When Biggie left the party a little after midnight, in his rented SUV, he was shot at by an unknown assailant in a black Chevy. B.I.G. was shot in the chest several times and pronounced dead at Cedars Sinai Hospital just after 1:00AM.
The rap world mourned the tragic passing of one of hip-hop’s most respected MC’s.
“Life After Death” would be released two weeks after his murder.
“Life After Death” would be one of the few hip-hop albums to achieve diamond sales.
The double disc also produced the smash hits “Hypnotize”, “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” (featuring Kelly Price, Ma$e and Puff Daddy), “Notorious Thugs” (featuring Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony) and “Sky’s The Limit” (featuring 112), whom Biggie helped secure a deal with Bad Boy a couple of years earlier.
The album would feature production by Puffy as well as DJ Premier, Easy Mo Bee, The RZA, DJ Clark Kent, DJ Enuf and Kay Gee of Naughty By Nature. Other guests on the star-studded set included DMC, Carl Thomas, Too $hort and wife Faith Evans whom Biggie had married in 1994.
There would be two more posthumous albums; 1999’s “Born Again” and 2000’s “Duets – The Final Chapter.”
In 2009, Fox Searchlight released the Biggie biopic “Notorious” in U.S. theaters, starring Jamal Woolard as the late rap legend.
Over the years Biggie has collaborated with the likes of Michael Jackson, Neneh Cherry, the late great Heavy D, Jay-Z, Craig Mack, Busta Rhymes and LL Cool J, just to name a mere few.
The Notorious B.I.G. is credited as one of the rap game’s most gifted MC’s of all time.