It has been thirteen years since Hip-Hop lost one of the most prolific lyricists that ever touched the mic. Whether from New York or California, it is undeniable that the level of finesse Christopher “The Notorious B.I.G” Wallace brought to Hip-Hop with his debut single “Juicy”, definitely changed the game. He single handedly ushered out the gangsta era image and brought in the Mafioso.
It was no longer “B*%ches Ain’t S%@t” but dudes begging for “One More Chance” as his rhymes, over then Puff Daddy’s co-produced melodic beats and samples, made you want to party and bulls**t, but also get between the sheets.
Raised in the Brooklyn (Bedford-Stuyvesant) borough of New York City, Wallace grew up during the peak years of the 1980s crack epidemic and started dealing drugs at an early age. When Wallace released his debut album Ready to Die in 1994, he instantly became a key player on the East Coast Hip-Hop scene and increased New York’s visibility at a time when West Coast artists were dominating the charts.
In 1995, Biggie put on his crew that included Lil’ Cease and his neighborhood crew to form his protégé group, Junior M.A.F.I.A, which also spawned the solo career of the Queen Bee, Lil’ Kim.
While recording his second album in 1996, Wallace was in the center of the media fueled East Coast–West Coast feud, dominating the scene at the time. After the murder of his one-time friend turned lyrical nemesis Tupac, Biggie became increasingly in fear of his life.
Since that fateful day in 1997, there have been many conspiracy theories as to what happened, but one thing is for certain… Hip-Hop was forever changed.
Gone are the days of true lyricism and originality. There is a new self-proclaimed king of New York, which many question if Biggie wouldn’t have died in California on March 9, 2007, would “he” have taken on that moniker???
In addition, there and the monotonous songs, plus the reused lyrics and even the recycling of hooks of The Notorious One by major players in the game.
Sometimes I wonder as a major fan of Hip-Hop, if Tupac and Biggie were never murdered, where would music be right now?
Would their drive to go outside of the box and still be a strong or would Tupac be a full-fledged actor and activist? Would Biggie have turned mogul and “big up Brooklyn”?
Would their beef have been squashed publicly to show the world that there can be unity within the community?
Although these questions will never be answered, one thing is certain and that’s that the Notorious B.I.G’s legacy continues to live on.
In the years since his death, Biggies albums have sold over 17 million copies and as of 2008, Ready to Die was ranked number 5 on About.com’s 100 Greatest Albums of All Time list.
True fans of the art form can’t help but wonder if this is what B.I.G. truly meant when he said “Life after Death”, or is it all a dream.
R.I.P Christopher “The Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace”… Gone but never forgotten.