Biggie Smalls is a late American rapper, who despite having not had any new music since the 90s, is today still regarded as one of the greatest rappers of all time and the savior of East Coast hip-hop.
The Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie, as he is commonly referred to, was revered for his storytelling ability on the hustler’s lifestyle with his powerful baritone and an effortless flow.
Biggie Smalls was born Christopher George Latore Wallace to Voletta Wallace and Selwyn George Latore on May 21, 1972, in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where he was raised by just his mother after his father, who worked as a welder, abandoned the family when Biggie was just two years old.
Biggie was a bright student as a child. He attended Queen of All Saints Middle School, where he won several awards specifically in English class. It was also during this time that he got the nickname ‘Big’ which came about as a result of his size. He subsequently attended Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School before later transferring to George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School where coincidentally, future rappers like Jay-Z, DMX, and Busta Rhymes also went to at that time.
Wallace continued to excel in school but after beginning to sell drugs and get involved in a life of crime, he dropped out of school at the age of seventeen. By the time Biggie was 18, he was arrested and sentenced to five years’ probation for illegally possessing a weapon. The following year, he was arrested for violating his probation and the year after that, he was again arrested for dealing crack cocaine in North Carolina. This time, he spent nine months in jail before he was able to make bail.
While in jail, Biggie honed his rap skills as he had previously rapped to entertain people in school and on the streets. Upon release, he recorded a mixtape under the moniker Biggie Smalls, a name he got from the movie Let’s Do It Again (1975). Despite having no intention of seeking a record deal or pursuing a rap career, the mixtape made waves in the underground hip-hop scene and was heard by Sean Combs who worked as an A&R for Uptown Records at the time.
Combs signed Biggie to Uptown but after he got fired, he set up Bad Boy Records and the rapper followed him to the new label. Following a lawsuit, Biggie Smalls had to change his recording name to The Notorious B.I.G under which he released his first song as a solo artist titled, Party and Bullshit in 1993.
In September 1994, The Notorious B.I.G. released his debut album, Ready to Die to critical and commercial acclaim. The album was certified gold within two months of release before eventually selling over four million copies. The single, “Big Poppa” meanwhile earned him a Grammy nomination as he single-handedly put East Coast hip-hop back in focus and away from the West Coast gangster rap that had been dominating.
Between 1996 and 1997, Biggie Smalls recorded his second album titled Life After Death which was scheduled for release on March 25, 1997. On March 8, the rapper attended the Soul Train Awards from which he went for an after party. At around midnight, the party was shut down by the fire department and Biggie and his entourage left. On his way back to his hotel, he stopped at a red light and was shot four times. He was immediately rushed to a hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.
His album was however released as scheduled and went on to sell over 10 million copies by the year 2000.
Biggie Smalls’ Family – Mom, Wife, Son, Daughter
Biggie Smalls’ mother, Voletta Wallace, is of Jamaican origin. She was born in 1953 and worked as a preschool teacher when her son was still a child. After her son’s death, Mrs. Wallace took control of his estate and founded the Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation. She is currently said to have an estimated net worth of $40 million.
Biggie Smalls was married to R&B singer Faith Evans who was his label mate on Bad Boy Records. The couple met at a Bad Boy photoshoot and almost soon after got married on August 4, 1994. Their marriage was marred with infidelity on Biggie’s side, prompting Evans to separate from her husband.
During their time together, the couple had a son named Christopher Jordan Wallace on October 29, 1996. Wallace Jr. is today an actor who is best known for portraying his father in the biopic Notorious (2009), as well as for his appearances in movies like Everything Must Go (2010) and Kicks (2016).
Before Christopher, Biggie had a daughter named T’Yanna with his longtime girlfriend and high school sweetheart, Jan Jackson. T’Yanna, who was born on August 8, 1993, is today a fashion designer and owner of Notorious Clothing.
Height, Weight, and Other Facts
Birth Name: Christopher George Latore Wallace
Nick Name: The Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls, Biggie
Place of Birth: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States
Date of Birth: May 21, 1972
Height: 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m)
Weight: 300 to 380 lb (140–170 kg)