Artist – The Notorious B.I.G.
Years Active – 1992-1997
Notable Album – Ready to Die, 1994
“Poppa been smooth since the days of Underroos
Never lose, never choose to, bruise crews who
Do something to us, talk go through us
Girls walk to us, wanna do us, screw us”
Christopher George Latore Wallace was born in New York City in 1972 to Jamaican parents. He would come up in Brooklyn, excelling at school (particularly in English) while simultaneously dealing drugs. He eventually dropped out in favor of the latter pursuit, a decision that later resulted in nine months spent in jail for dealing crack cocaine.
He came into rap before he was out of his teens, and released his first (and only) album Ready to Die when he was 22 years old. It was an instant hit, big enough to re-calibrate the poles of rap music back toward the East Coast.
That success would be relatively short lived. Biggie was murdered in 1997 while visiting Los Angeles, just six months after his West Coast rival Tupac Shakur suffered the same fate in Las Vegas.
Given how short his career was, Biggie Smalls was wildly influential. He set the standard for how large (no pun intended) a rapper could be, both in reputation and in lifestyle and ability. His rhymes remain gospel to virtually any aspiring rapper coming up today, regardless if they hail from the East Coast or not.
Contrast Biggie’s accomplishments and his legacy formed in half a decade with the two decades Jay-Z — the man who would be listed here were it not for Biggie — had, and he becomes even more remarkable. With just a single solo album released in his lifetime, he set trends and styles that will last for decades to come.
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