The Notorious B.I.G. Essentials
The Notorious B.I.G. was a wholly original rap stylist that paired a punishing, pugilistic flow with an acute sensitivity to language, granting lyrical virtuosity to gigantic, end-of-the-world anthems like “Kick In the Door” or “Who Shot Ya.” His rhymes read like a true crime novel soundtracked by Puffy-driven slabs of heavyweight breaks and crowd-pleasing samples from sources like Diana Ross (“Mo Money Mo Problems”), David Bowie (“Been Around the World”), and the Isley Brothers (“Big Poppa”). Like a tragic hero from a gangster flick, Biggie vividly articulated the game's intense pleasures and pain with stinging attention to detail. Jay Z, Cam'ron, and Lil Kim all benefited from Biggie's influence (and generous cosign), yet he will forever be linked to one rival, Tupac Shakur, in a beef to end all rap beefs. Known to his mother as Christopher Wallace, Biggie died on March 9, 1997, at the age of 24, just 16 days before the release of his second album, Life After Death. Brooklyn's finest claims an indelible seat among the greatest MCs of all time. And if you don't know, now ya know.