Notorious B.I.G., born Christopher George Latore Wallace on May 21, 1972, rose to fame and acclaim in his prime as a rapper and songwriter. His music told stories about celebrations, and the crime and hardships at the time. His style was considered autobiographical. He was signed to Bad Boy Records in 1993 and he gained recognition by featuring on other artists’ singles. In 1994, he released his first album, “Ready to Die.” It was well-received and had singles like ‘Juicy’ and ‘Big Poppa.’ It made him the central figure in East Coast Hip-hop. At the time of his death, his second album, “Life After Death”, was released. It topped the Billboard 200 and went on to receive a diamond certification. M.T.V. listed him as number three ‘Greatest MCs of all Time’ in 2006 and in 2020, he was drafted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Christopher George Latore Wallace, known to the world as Notorious B.I.G., was a force to be reckoned with. He was a brilliant rapper and songwriter. His style of rap was based on the New York rap scene and the gangsta rap traditions, and he is easily considered one of the best rappers of all time. Notorious B.I.G. was born on May 21, 1972, in the Brooklyn Borough, New York City. He was the only child of his father Selwyn George Latore, who was a welder and a politician. His mother, Violetta Wallace, was a preschool teacher, and they were both Jamaican immigrants. His mother had to work two jobs after his father left them in order to raise him. He went to Queen of All Saint’s Middle School where he excelled as an English student. His alias, B.I.G came from his nickname, ‘Big,’ which came about because he was overweight at the age of 10.
He developed an interest in rap at an early age and when he was a teenager, he rapped and performed on the streets entertaining people. His initial stage name was MC CWest. He requested to transfer to George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School, which was where Busta Rhymes and Jay Z both attended. Notorious B.I.G., unfortunately, developed an attitude at the new school and dropped out when he was 17. He turned to crime and in that same year, he was arrested on weapons charges. In 1990, he was also arrested for dealing cocaine. When he got out, he released a demo tape, “Microphone Murderer” as Biggie Smalls. Local D.J. Mister Cee, Big Daddy Kane, and Juice Crew believed in the demo and promoted it. In March, “The Source” magazine column, ‘Unsigned Hype’ featured him. This is where he garnered the attention of Sean ‘Puffy’’ Combs, who signed him to his label, Bad Boy Records, in 1993. He began to gain recognition by featuring on other artists’ singles and soon became a household name.
In 1994, he released his first album, “Ready to Die.” It made him the central figure in East Coast Hip-hop at a time when West Coast Hip-hop was the dominant music. He had a laid-back lyrical delivery that offset the lyrics’ grim content, and he became famous for it. He also formed a protégé group of longtime friends, including Lil Kim, called Junior M.A.F.I.A., and steered them toward success. Upon his death, his second album, “Life After Death,” was released and it topped the Billboard 200 and went on to receive a Diamond certification. “Rolling Stone” magazine coined him as “The greatest rapper who ever lived.”
Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs discovers him through “The Source” magazine and signs him to his record label, Bad Boy Records.
He releases his debut album, “Ready to Die” with singles like ‘Juicy’ and ‘Big Poppa.’
He wins the Billboard Music Award for ‘Rapper of the Year’
He creates his protégé group, Junior M.A.F.I.A., which includes Lil Kim.
His second album, “Life After Death,” is released immediately after his death and goes on to be number one on the Billboard 200.
He gets drafted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Why We Love Notorious B.I.G.
His legacy outlived him
He featured on Puff Daddy’s album, “No Way Out” and a song dedicated to him on the album went on to win the Grammys. There were also two posthumous albums, “Born Again in 1999” and “Duets: The Final Chapter,” which featured previously unreleased content.
He gave back
After fame and recognition in the industry, Notorious B.I.G. formed a protégé group. They were known as Junior M.A.F.I.A. The group was composed of some of his close friends, whom he mentored and steered to success.
He was a creative
Apart from writing his own music, he composed and edited songs in his head, despite the complexity of his lyrics. He was also a famous songwriter and wrote numerous songs for other celebrity artists.
5 Surprising Facts
His first Rolex came from Tupac
Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac were really good friends — Tupac bought him his first Rolex to signify their friendship.
He was raised Catholic
His mom raised him as a Catholic and he even enrolled in Catholic schools.
He was an A student
He was a straight-A student and did exceptionally well, especially in English.
He handed out cassette copies
He distributed copies of his album, “Ready to Die,” on cassette from his house, and there was always a long queue around the block.
He worked with Michael Jackson
Jackson requested him for a verse for his single, “This Time Around” — something that he didn’t do often.
Notorious B.I.G. FAQs
Who did Notorious B.I.G. inspire?
Many hip-hop artists we know today have been immensely influenced by Biggie, such as Jay-Z, P Diddy, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Nicki Minaj, and many more.
How did Biggie learn to rap?
“You have to slow things down really slow and take the time to phrase each note.” Biggie started rapping with his friends when they were 10 or 11 years old.
Why is Notorious B.I.G. called Biggie?
Biggie began rapping as a teenager to entertain people in his neighborhood. After he got out of jail, he made a demo tape as Biggie Smalls — named after a gang leader from the 1975 movie “Let’s Do It Again,” which was also a nod to his childhood nickname.
Notorious B.I.G.’s birthday dates