25 Essential The Notorious B.I.G. Songs
March 9, 1997 is a date that will forever be etched in the minds of rap fans worldwide as the day "the greatest rapper of all time" died (word to Canibus). In the early morning hours, The Notorious B.I.G. was murdered in Los Angeles in a drive-by shooting, ending one of the most historic runs in rap history prematurely. The rap star, who had attended a Soul Train Awards after-party at the Petersen Automotive Museum prior to the shooting, was shot four times while sitting in the back passenger seat of an SUV. Biggie was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 24 years old.
Christopher George Latore Wallace, born on May 21, 1972 , in Brooklyn, New York, was a lyrical terror since the public school era of his education, honing the craft that would take him and his mother out of their "one-room shack" as he tells it on his 1994 hit "Juicy" and into the lap of luxury as a youth. Without a wicked jump shot in his arsenal, the allure of the crack trade threatened to rob Biggie of his untapped potential but gave him first-hand knowledge of the commandments that he'd occasionally share in the form of a rhyme. DJs like Mister Cee and 50 Grand saw that the limit for this unknown prospect was sky-high. Eventually, B.I.G. caught the interest of Sean "Puffy" Combs, who took the rapper under his wing as the flagship artist of Bad Boy Records.
Ready to Die served as The Notorious B.I.G.'s landmark debut album in 1994 reestablished East Coast hip-hop's dominance, infiltrating the charts with hit singles like "Juicy," "Warning," and "Big Poppa." The effort also wowed critics and outclassed the competition on cuts like "Unbelievable" and the controversial salvo "Who Shot Ya." Biggie also showcased his ear and eye for talent with the formation of the rap collective Junior M.A.F.I.A., who released their platinum album, Conspiracy, in 1995. By the following year, Biggie was hailed as the undisputed King of New York, with a sophomore album, Life After Death, set to take his career to the stratosphere.
However, the opportunity for him to witness the seismic impact of the posthumously released Life After Death was stolen from him on the day he was killed, a tragedy that continues to haunt the rap world decades later since his murderer has never been apprehended. While no longer here in the physical, The Notorious B.I.G.'s spirit lives on through his music, his influence, and the timeless moments he was a part of during his time on earth.
To commemorate his life and celebrate his legacy, XXL highlights 25 of The Notorious B.I.G.'s greatest songs for your listening pleasure.