It’s been 17 years since the passing of hip hop legend Christopher Wallace aka Notorious B.I.G. Today would’ve been his 42nd birthday and with the colossal changes in music and the world at large since ’97, one can’t help but wonder about things like: how many albums in he’d be, if he’d still be [musically] hot, how he’d look, if he’d have mo’ money or more problems, etc. In honour of the impact that the original King of New York has had on the culture, we give you 10 facts about Biggie Small that you probably did not know. R.I.P Christopher Wallace.
1. Off the Top
These days every second rapper and their mamma claims to possess the ability to record lyrics and full songs/albums without writing a single word down. Though it’s possible that he was not the first human to ever do this, this ability was first brought to public attention by Notorious, who recorded all the lyrics on his first album Ready To Die purely from constructing raps in his head and then spitting them straight onto wax from pure memory.
2. B.I.G Poppa’s Big Poppa
Biggie had plans to open a restaurant that served soul food in his Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvestant. He was planning on naming it “Big Poppa’s.”
3. What’s in a Name?
The name Biggie Smalls came from a 1975 movie called “Let’s Do It Again.” In the movie, there were a group of gangsters lead by Biggie Smalls (Calvin Lockhart) who was hustling a boxer into thinking he was winning prize fights when he really wasn’t. When Christopher Wallace chose Biggie Smalls as a rap name, he was sued by Lockhart and forced to change the name to Notorious B.I.G.
4. Straight A’s
Biggie, Jay-Z and Busta Rhymes all attended the same school in downtown Brooklyn.
5. Unsigned HYPE
Biggie Smalls first became known to the hip hop world when he appeared in the ‘Unsigned Hype’ section of The Source magazine. At the time Thee Source was the largest distributed hip hop publication in the world. He then started to receive industry attention after featuring on Mary J. Blige’s ‘Real Love.’
6. Twin Towers
In 1995 Biggie debuted on the pop singles chart with the single ‘One More Chance’, tying Michael Jackson’s ‘Scream’ as the highest debut debuting single of all time (the previous record was held by Thhe Beatles). Biggie was then asked by the King of pop to collaborate, which they did on ‘This Time Around.’
7. Forever Schoolin’ Cats
B.I.G is an acronym that initially stood for ‘Business Before Game.’ But since his death the Christopher Wallace foundation have changed it to mean ‘Books Before Guns’, which they use a their ethos to help bring books and computers to disadvantaged schools in Atlanta, USA.
8. Diamonds Are Forever
Biggie Small’s 2nd album Life After Death is certified diamond. That means it has sold over 10 million copies, making him one of very, very few rappers in general and only East Coast rapper to reach diamond status.
Before Biggie was famous, him and Pac were friends. Tupac, whose first rap name was MC New York (where do you think that Kendrick Lamar ‘Makakveli’ line on Control came from?), would even let Biggie get on stage with him from time to time to help his talent get noticed.
10. “Team Supreme/ Stay so clean”
Big had his own clothing line called Brooklyn Mint Inc. He started it to cater to big built men such as himself, seeing as it was often difficult to find clothing he admired in his size.