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Biggie Smalls, also known as Notorious B.I.G., was a revered hip-hop artist and face of East Coast gangsta rap. He was shot and killed on March 9, 1997.
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Born as Christopher Wallace on May 21, 1972 in Brooklyn, New York, Biggie Smalls, also known as Notorious B.I.G., became a drug dealer at a young age. He started experimenting with music as a teenager and, not long after, befriended Sean "Puffy" Combs. His 1994 debut album, Ready to Die, was a smash hit, and his long-running feud with fellow rapper, Tupac Shakur,
"Excellence is my presence. Never tense, never hesitant."
helped to shape his career. Biggie was killed in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997.
American hip-hop star Biggie Smalls was born as Christopher George Latore Wallace on May 21, 1972 in Brooklyn, New York, in the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. Biggie, or Notorious B.I.G, as he'd later become known, experienced a rough childhood—at an early age, he was surrounded by drug addicts and dealers. As a result, by his early teens, Biggie had joined the life that was all around him. "Hustlers were my heroes," he once said. "Everything happened on the strip I grew up in. It didn't matter where you went, it was all in your face."
At the age of 17, Biggie was arrested for selling crack, and spent nine months in a North Carolina prison before making bail. As he navigated his young, uncertain life, Biggie started making music. He hooked on with a crew called the "Old Gold Brothers," and began experimenting on his own.
Around his neighborhood, Biggie Smalls, as he called himself then, began building a reputation as a musician. After a tape of his landed in the hands of Mister Cee, a well-known DJ, Smalls was featured in the hip-hop publication, The Source.
The article was enough to catch the attention of Sean "Puffy" Combs, a young producer at Uptown Entertainment, a New York-based label specializing in hip-hop and rhythm and blues. When Combs split off from Uptown to start his own label, Bad Boy Entertainment, he brought Smalls with him.
Immediately, Notorious B.I.G., as he now called himself, got to work, appearing on a 1993 remix of Mary J. Blige's single, Real Love, and followed it up with a second Blige remix, What's the 411? His debut as a solo artist came with the single, Party and Bullshit, on the soundtrack to the film, Who's the Man? (1993)
In 1994, Notorious B.I.G. released his debut album, Ready to Die, which told the story of his life, from drug dealer to rapper. Backed with hits like Juicy and Big Poppa, the record went platinum and the young hip-hop artist became a full-fledged star.
That same year, The Source named Notorious B.I.G. Best New Artist, Best Live Performer, and Lyricist of the Year.
As his star power increased, Biggie did his best to share his prestige. He backed the work of several rappers that he'd originally performed with while starting out in Brooklyn, and took to the studio in support of other artists on Sean "Puffy" Combs's label. He also teamed up with such stars as Michael Jackson and R. Kelly. By the close of 1995, Biggie was one of music's best-selling and most sought after performers.
However, success and wealth hardly brought peace to Biggie's life.
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