(Credit: Shamsuddin Muhammad)

Old School Archives

Watch rare footage of Biggie Smalls and Diddy performing live in London

Biggie Smalls first met Diddy in 1992, and it was a life-changing moment that would put him on the path to superstardom. Three years later, he was the hottest rapper on the planet, and this footage of the duo performing together in London is spellbinding.

Smalls was the marquee name on Diddy’s record label, Bad Boy Entertainment, and he made the business what it is today. Biggie’s success elevated the whole East Coast scene, and they managed to knock Death Row off their perch as the premier name in hip-hop.

“The first time I met B.I.G., I brought him to a soul food restaurant called Sylvia’s, uptown in Harlem,” Diddy revealed in a 2017 interview with Revolt. “The first thing that I remember was how big and black he was… This is during the time of Al B. Sure and LL Cool J.

“Dark skin wasn’t in. He was beyond dark-skinned. I remember him sitting down, and he really didn’t have anything to say. So you have this big guy who has this in-your-face rap attitude but was quiet.”

“Here’s the mind-blowing thing,” Diddy continued. “We at Sylvia’s. This is the best soul food in the world. You would actually just come to New York for this soul food. I asked him if he wanted to eat, and he was like ‘Nah.’ He didn’t wanna eat. I realised that’s how big this moment was for him. This was really his dream. He couldn’t even eat.”

Together they achieved their joint ambitions, and after his debut album, Ready To Die, it was finally time to take Biggie international. In 1995 they landed in London to perform at the Hammersmith Palais to deliver a legendary show where Big was joined on the bill by Diddy and Craig Mack.

Unfortunately, memories of the show are uncomfortable for Diddy for another reason. On the night that Biggie died, he was supposed to go to London, but, instead, he persuaded his boss to let him attend a party in Los Angeles, and that phone call constantly replays in the mogul’s head.

This footage is a poignant reminder of Biggie’s commanding stage presence, who didn’t need to bounce around to cast everybody in the room under his spell, and he instead let Puff get the crowd hyped up on his behalf. The chemistry between the duo is tangible, and their differing energy levels made for a perfect match.

Take a trip back to 1995 below, and get lost in the magic of Biggie Smalls.