The Notorious BIG, aka Biggie Smalls, was one of the most acclaimed hip hop artists and was seen as an underdog who made it from the street corner to the stars. Known for his infamous feud with Tupac Shakur and Death Row Records, Biggie Smalls was definitely taken away from us too soon.
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.
Before Biggie Smalls was murdered in 1997, he did an interview in which he revealed that he felt like he was already dead. The interview was conducted in 1997 on BET’s Rap City show. Asked why he had chosen the title of Ready To Die for his first album the rapper responded, “The way I was feeling when I did Ready To Die was I felt like I was already dead.
He continued, “Just being in a situation with my mom, working, going to school, leaving me open to [dabble] in different things, you know what I’m saying? It just left me kind of stuck. My mentality was more [about] getting paper, not caring about nothing else, just wanting to get mine, y’know? I got the record deal, and when I started doing Ready to Die, there was a lot of anger. A lot of hatred was coming out. It was real, but it was real angry.” Shortly after this interview, the rapper was murdered, making it the last interview he ever did.
You can watch the full 1997 interview in the video below.