Who is the kid on the front of Biggie Smalls’ ‘Ready To Die’
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Who is the kid on the front of Biggie Smalls' 'Ready To Die'

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.

Released in 1994, Ready To Die was the biggest album of the year and, alongside Illmatic, marked the strength of East Coast rap music. Although the project only peaked at number 15 on the Billboard 200, only a year after its release, it had surpassed double-platinum status, and 2018 saw the LP sell over six million units.

In 2020, the 1994 project was ranked number one on Rolling Stone’s list of the 200 Greatest Hip-Hop Albums of All Time and was so due to its iconic tracklist. The lead single, ‘Juicy’ is considered by many as one of the best hip-hop tracks ever made. The Grammy-nominated second single ‘Big Poppa’ is another one of Ready To Die’s shining stars.

In an interview for Rap City with Joe Clair, Wallace explained how the sentiments he had while making the album, unveiling, “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.” 

Wallace didn’t know he was going to make a classic. However, it is not just the content of the album that is legendary, but it is the artwork as well. The cover of Ready To Die shows a baby in a nappy with a large afro, meant to represent Biggie as a child.

Who is the child on the front of The Notorious BIG album?

Few knew or cared who it really was. However, in 2011 it was revealed that the baby on the cover of Ready To Die was Bronx native Keithroy Yearwood, who only made $150 for the two-hour shoot. Yearwood only found out it was him, aged eight, when he saw a photo of him from home on a billboard in Times Square.

In an interview with the New York Daily News online magazine, Keithroy recalled, “The first time I saw my picture somewhere was Times Square, in the big area where the big pictures go. To this day, I don’t know why they picked me. I still think it’s the afro.”

The photographer assigned to the project, Butch Belair, wasn’t even in the loop and assumed it was the baby of someone Biggie knew, disclosing, “It was a friend of someone’s friends’ kid who had this cool Afro. The Afro was as big as he was.”

In an interview with Rap Radar, Diddy then unveiled that it was through a casting process, recalling, “That was a baby we just found ….We did a little casting for somebody that looked like Big.” You can see the cover of Ready To die below.