Biggie Smalls was the best-selling hip hop artist of the 1990s, and it’s easy to see why. From ‘Hypnotise’ to ‘Big Poppa’, the Brooklyn rapper made some epic rap anthems that live on to this day. As P Diddy’s prodigy, Biggie went from freestyling on Brooklyn street corners to ruling the charts and producing platinum hit records.
Known for his infamous feud with Tupac Shakur and Death Row Records, Biggie Smalls was definitely taken away from us too soon. However, in the short time he was recording and releasing music professionally, the rapper wrote a lot of music and quickly became an icon.
Born and raised in the Clinton Hill area of Brooklyn, Biggie (real name Christopher Wallace) was one of the biggest names in New York hip hop during the early 1990s. Discovered by Diddy and signed to Bad Boy Entertainment, his debut album, Ready To Die, is still considered a classic and a must-listen for any true hip hop fan.
Born to Jamaican immigrant parents and raised solely by his mother, Biggie Smalls watched his mother struggle to make ends meet and began dealing drugs at 12. However, battling local MCs as a hobby in Brooklyn and realising he was skilled at rapping, Wallace started to take the art form seriously, performing with the Old Gold Brothers and the Techniques. Feeling ambitious, the rapper made a demo, Microphone Murderer, which spread like wildfire as a local tape ending up in the hands of DJ Mister Cee.
Cee was an influential New York tastemaker with associates across New York in the hip hop scene, and through radio play, Wallace was picked up by Diddy, who signed him to Bad Boy Entertainment. The Notorious B.I.G’s music remains some of the best and most classic in all of hip hop, and his contribution to the culture was profound.
One of his most legendary pieces of work is the 1994 album Ready To Die, which boasted his hit single ‘Juicy’. Produced by Poke of production duo the Trackmasters, alongside Diddy, ‘Juicy’ has a number of elements that make it such a special track. Even Biggie’s cadences follow a similar pattern to the original track, ‘Juicy Fruit’ by Mtume.
As one of his most well-known hits, below you can revisit when the late legend performed the hit at MTV’s epic Spring Break party of 1995.