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The Death of The Notorious B.I.G.: Fifteen Years Later

By The Hip Hop Writer
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

A man is dead, shot in cold blood on the streets of Los Angeles. Riding in a SUV with the people he cares about the most, Christopher George Latore Wallace is dead on what was one of the happiest periods of his life. Only hours before, it seemed as if the negativity, which had surrounded his career since 1994 were over. Wallace was better known to the world as The Notorious B.I.G., but was simply a man who wanted a better life, ironically this better life led to his death.

Two children are forced to grow up without their father, a middle-aged woman has lost her only child, a conflicted wife is now has no option but to end her marriage to the man she loved. The death of The Notorious B.I.G. had been three years in the making. At a time when New York hip hop was struggling, an eager label executive for Uptown Records, Puff Daddy, was ready to showcase the artists he was working with, instead his ambition got him fired.

It did not take long for Puff Daddy to resurface with The Notorious B.I.G. with him and the stage was set for a takeover. Before making it big, B.I.G. had already gained a major endorsement from hip hop’s resident bad boy, no pun intended, Tupac Shakur. Working so closely with B.I.G., Puff Daddy, and the newly-formed Bad Boy Records, there were rumors of Shakur joining the label. On the other side of the country, Death Row Records had been breaking music records with each of their releases selling millions of copies. Along the way, they also offended those in the media and the government, who wanted to shut the label down.

Death Row Records had eclipsed every other hip hop record label and their CEO, Suge Knight, could not have been happier. The last thing he needed was new competition, but he got it in the form of Bad Boy Records. Despite their name, Bad Boy was peaceful, attempting to co-exist with Death Row Records. Suge Knight was not down for co-existing, so he began firing subliminal shots. But, it was the shots fired by an unseen man (who was later proven to be Dexter Isaac, a hired gun for Jimmy Henchman) in the direction of Tupac Shakur at Quad Studios in 1994, which gave Knight the ammunition he needed to go after Bad Boy Records.

Tupac Shakur would not listen to reason and accused The Notorious B.I.G. of being behind the attempt of his life. B.I.G. would spend the remainder of his career denying this. Despite his pleas for peace, Shakur signed with Death Row Records and began his onslaught of Bad Boy disses, even claiming to bed B.I.G.’s wife, Faith Evans. By the end of 1996, Tupac Shakur had been gunned down in Las Vegas and everyone suspected the Bad Boy camp of being involved, which likely led supporters of Shakur to retaliate. Many believe this retaliation happened when The Notorious B.I.G. was killed.

For Biggie, as he was fondly called, it was a storybook night, as he had won big at the Soul Train Awards and his album was to be released weeks later. While The Notorious B.I.G. was clearly enjoying life, on his album, Life After Death, the rapper basically predicted his death. One element which remained, throughout his brief career, was his infatuation with dying, as both of his albums referred to death in the title. The Notorious B.I.G.’s continued to tempt fate until he was taken away in a hail of gunshots and the world, as he knew it, was forced to live with the fallout.

What was once a dream had become reality for The Notorious B.I.G., as he was preparing for the next stage of his career. But, after he, too, was killed in a violent murder, it had those closest to him questioning if it was all worth it. Voletta Wallace, B.I.G.’s mother, has been very vocal over the past fifteen years and she always states his death was over nothing. At one point, she even said she wished he had never entered the game. While he may have been poor, he would have been alive, which was much more important to her. In fifteen years, hip hop is still focused on the impact The Notorious B.I.G. had on the game.

Looking back on his run, The Notorious B.I.G. was only relevant for five years. Rick Ross, since his mainstream debut, has been compared to Biggie, but his run has lasted six years. The 1990s in hip hop will be defined are defined by The Notorious B.I.G. and his rival/friend, Tupac Shakur. But, there are the “true” hip hop heads who respect their legacies, but point out how short both rappers’ runs were and how, lyrically, they do not match up with the rappers from their day. Also, there are the current hip hop fans, who were probably born after both rappers died, who feel it is time for hip hop to move on.

However, on March 9, 1997, almost exactly fifteen years ago down to the minute, a man who wanted nothing more than peace and a good life for himself, and those he loved was dead. While building this life for himself, this man provided classic material, which has lived on nearly two decades after his death. Yes, he had a short run, yes his legacy in the game is arguable, but when it comes to his era, he was the best. Because of that, Christopher George Latore Wallace deserves to be honored on the anniversary of his death, which Hip Hop Vibe will be doing with music videos and commentary throughout the day.

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