NEW York City’s most revered hip-hop artist Notorious B.I.G. was shot dead in 1997 – but his memory lives on in his music.
His beef with Tupac and fiery rhetoric catapulted him into the annals of hip-hop – here’s everything you need to know about the late American rapper.
Who was Notorious B.I.G?
Christopher Wallace was born in Brooklyn, New York, on May 21, 1972.
Better known as his stage names The Notorious B.I.G. and Biggie Smalls, Christopher is still ranked as one of the most influential rappers of all time.
Notorious B.I.G. released his debut album, Ready to Die, in 1994 – and soon became a central figure on the East Coast hip hop scene.
At the time, West Coast hip hop was still dominant in the mainstream charts.
Notorious B.I.G. became heavily involved in a East Coast-West Coast hip hop feud. Tupac Shakur was also a key player, on the West Coast side.
Notorious B.I.G. married R&B singer Faith Evans in August 1994, just weeks after meeting at a Bad Boy photo shoot.
The turbulent marriage was cut short less than three years later, when Notorious B.I.G. was shot in a drive-by shooting.
A tribute single called I’ll Be Missing You – released in 1997 by Puff Daddy, 112 and Faith – won a Grammy award.
When did Notorious B.I.G. die?
Notorious B.I.G. was shot dead in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997.
Spookily his next album, called Life After Death, was scheduled to be released on March 25.
He was only 24 years old when he was killed and the murder is still unsolved.
The driver of a dark Chevrolet Impala SS, dressed in a suit and bow tie, pulled up alongside Notorious B.I.G’s SUV at a red traffic light at 12.45am and began shooting at the rapper’s car.
Notorious B.I.G. was shot four times, and died in hospital at 1.15am.
Just six months earlier, Tupac had been killed in very similar circumstances.
What happened to Notorious B.I.G’s car?
The car in which Notorious B.I.G. was fatally shot was put up for auction, with seller of the BMW SUV supposedly seeking £1.25 million.
The vehicle was originally purchased at auction by an unknown woman in October 1997.
She was unaware of its dark history, and had been using it to drive her family of six around.
After Biggie’s death, police replaced the bullet holes on the passenger side before selling the vehicle.
How is his death connected to P. Diddy?
New revelations and witness statements state P. Diddy was the original target of the shooter and Biggie may have been killed by mistake.
Leaked FBI documents reveal Sean “Puffy” Combs aka P. Diddy had received multiple death threats and his security guard confronted a man who had approached Combs’ car just moments before the shooting.
Both rappers had been waiting for cars to pick them up outside the Peterson Automotive Museum in LA after an after-party.
The pair both got into the front passenger’s seats of their respective green SUVs.
Combs’ security guard told his driver to run a red light rather than stopping at a junction, knowing they wouldn’t have been safe to sit at the lights.
Biggie’s driver however didn’t follow suit and they sat at the lights for around a minute.
The fact that it took a minute for the shooter to make the hit indicates they were hesitant, perhaps due to identity confusion.
Those close to Biggie say if someone had wanted to take him out they could have done it much more easily at any other time as he often went out in public without security, to go for food, the cinema or even to the mall.
Was the murder orchestrated by the LAPD?
Philip Carson claims to have evidence against two “dirty” cops and the LAPD could now face a $500million lawsuit.
He says bosses shut down his investigation, but when he retired in 2016 he took almost 3,000 pages of case documents with him.
Carson gave his evidence to filmmakers and a film about the case called City of Lies starring Johnny Depp is being released shortly.
He said: “LAPD, all the way to the very very f***ing top, knew exactly what was going on.”
Carson believes that Marion “Suge” Knight, the former CEO of Death Row Records who signed rappers including Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac, employed the LAPD cops and ordered them to arrange Wallace’s murder.
How is his death connected to Tupac?
In June 1996, Tupac released a song called Hit ‘Em Up – claiming he had had sex with Faith, who was pregnant with Notorious B.I.G’s second child at the time.
Just three months later, Tupac was shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, on September 7.
He died in hospital on September 13 – and it wasn’t long before people started accusing Notorious B.I.G. of having something to do with it.
Both murders remain unsolved, and shrouded in conspiracy theories.
How did Notorious B.I.G’s name live on after death?
Notorious B.I.G’s double-disc album was released 16 days after his death – and rose straight to No1 in the US album charts.
It only reached 23 in the UK Album charts.
Life After Death was certified as Diamond in 2000, one of the only hip hop albums to receive this certification.
Two more albums have been released since his death, and Notorious B.I.G. has 17 million sales in the US.
Duets – The Final Chapter reached No13 in the UK Album charts in 2005.
He even had a UK No1 single in 2006 – nine years after his death – with Nasty Girl.
Two months after he was shot dead he had a UK No10 single with Hypnotize, followed by Mo MOney Mo Problems, which reached No6 in August 1997.