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The Notorious B.I.G.: Biography - Life and Murder

VO: Rebecca Brayton
It was all a dream for this rapper. After excelling in English at school, Christopher Wallace turned to petty crime. He went to jail on drug charges, and once he left he began his rap career. He recorded a demo that got him noticed by record producer Puff Daddy, and from there the Notorious B.I.G. had a meteoric rise to fame. His debut album, "Ready to Die" showcased his unique style and smooth vocals. An unfortunate rivalry between East Coast and West Coast rappers emerged, and saw Biggie and former friend Tupac Shakur compete. In fact, this rivalry was a contributing factor in the eventual deaths of both rap stars. takes a look at the life and career of The Notorious B.I.G.

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Biography: The Notorious B.I.G. – Life and Death

It was all a dream for this rapper. Welcome to and today we’re taking a look at the life and career of The Notorious B.I.G.

Early Life

Christopher George Latore Wallace was born May 21st, 1972 in Brooklyn, New York. Wallace grew up in a rough neighborhood, but excelled in school and won several awards for his achievements in English. Due to his stature, he earned the nickname “Big” before his tenth birthday. Unfortunately, Wallace started selling drugs for easy money shortly thereafter, and this led to three arrests and nine months in jail.

Record Demo and Puff Daddy

After his release, Biggie recorded a demo that got him signed to Bad Boy Records by producer Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs.


Biggie then appeared on two successful Mary J. Blige remixes, which he followed with more remixes and guest-appearances with hip-hop heavyweights like LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes.

First Solo Single

Finally, the Notorious B.I.G.’s first solo single, “Party and Bullshit” was released in 1993 on the “Who’s the Man?” movie soundtrack.

Autobiographical Lyrics

Biggie’s autobiographical lyrics drew on his experiences selling drugs, growing up poor, dealing with women and living in a violent neighborhood. What he lacked in formal education he made up for with street smarts, and he was able to paint life-like pictures without a fancy vocabulary.

Love Life

As his career took off, so did his love life: Biggie met and married R&B singer Faith Evans in 1994. Though they eventually had one son, Christopher Wallace Jr., the two had a tumultuous marriage filled with affairs, including a relationship between Biggie and fellow rapper Lil’ Kim.

“Ready to Die”

Also in 1994, he released his critically and commercially praised debut album Ready to Die. On that release, Biggie moved from the deep, smooth flow of tracks like “One More Chance,” to the vivid stories of songs like “Juicy,” to the ladies-man lyrics of singles like “Big Poppa.” The record eventually sold over four million copies.

Junior M.A.F.I.A.

After establishing himself as a solo star, Biggie focused on his rap group Junior M.A.F.I.A. The group consisted of his childhood friends and Lil’ Kim, and their 1995 album Conspiracy was a commercial success. It also helped launch Lil’ Kim’s successful solo career.

Collaboration with Michael Jackson

Biggie’s career was reaching unseen heights: he even collaborated with Michael Jackson and became the only artist to appear on two separate MJ albums.

Rivalry with Tupac

Following these successes, the Notorious B.I.G. graced the covers of magazines and won numerous awards. However, around this time a rift formed between him and former friend-turned rival, Tupac Shakur.

Second Album

Recording of Biggie’s second album began in late 1995. Sessions were interrupted by the high-profile East Coast-West Coast rivalry, by Biggie’s two arrests on harassment, drug and weapons charges and by a car accident that left him walking with a cane.


The rivalry came to a head in September 1996 when Tupac was shot and killed in a drive-by. The next year, Biggie hoped to make peace between the two coasts when he traveled to California to promote his album, Life After Death, and its lead single, “Hypnotize.” His reception was mixed, but on March 9th, 1997, as he was leaving a Soul Train Awards after-party in L.A., he was shot and killed in the passenger seat of his SUV while stopped at a red light.

Posthumous Success

Just over two weeks after his death, the Notorious B.I.G.’s second album was released. It hit number one on the Billboard 200 chart, and was an even bigger success than his debut. The effort featured more collaborations as well, with artists like Puff Daddy, Ma$e and Lil’ Kim. Biggie became the first artist to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 posthumously with his single, “Mo Money Mo Problems,” and this song proved to be his biggest chart success.


Two months later, his close friend and frequent collaborator Puff Daddy released the tribute single “I’ll Be Missing You,” with help from Faith Evans and R&B group 112. The song debuted at number one and remained there for an astounding eleven weeks, in addition to winning a Grammy award.

More Albums

In the years that followed, two additional Biggie albums were released. 1999’s “Born Again” debuted at number one on Billboard, and 2005’s “Duets: The Final Chapter” debuted at number three.

Conspiracy Theories

The Notorious B.I.G.’s murder was never solved, but it prompted many conspiracy theories. Some of the most publicized theories pointed to former Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight, in addition to a plot involving the LAPD.


In 2009, the biopic “Notorious” was released. It recounted the story of how Biggie became one of the most influential voices in hip-hop, and featured his real-life son playing a young Christopher Wallace. Proving the rapper still had drawing power, the movie grossed $43 million worldwide.


Even years after his death, the Notorious B.I.G. is known for his unparalleled style, charisma, lyrical flow and wordplay. “And if you don’t know, now you know…”

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