In a rather shortlived career that barely spanned up to five years, The Notorious B.I.G. revolutionized the world of rap with his unique style. Also popular as Biggie Smalls or Biggie, the Brooklyn native was remarked for drawing many fans with his unrivalled storytelling ability about the lifestyle of a hustler with his powerful baritone and effortless flow. His talent was overwhelming and also reflected on his debut album which dropped with a bang in 1994, turning the rapper into an international figure.
More than two decades after the death of Biggie Smalls, albums are still dropping in his name and his popularity shows no sign of waning. The rapper’s name came up during the nomination of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the 2020 set. This shows how strong a legacy he left in the industry and why he is regarded as the greatest that ever lived in different quarters.
Here is a look at his family life and how he lost his life at such a very young age.
His Family Background
Christopher George Latore Wallace, who came to be known as The Notorious BIG, was birthed on May 21, 1972, in Brooklyn, New York into the family of Voletta Wallace and Selwyn George Latorre, both of whom are of Jamaican origin. When he was only two, his father walked away from the family and so, Christopher was brought up as an only child by his mother, Voletta, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
While the rapper’s father was a welder and a local politician in Jamaica, his mother worked as a preschool teacher. Because she had to raise her kid all on her own, Mrs. Wallace was forced to shuffle two jobs. Since the death of Biggie, his mother has been involved in many things aside taking charge of his estate and founding the Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation. She has written a memoir; “Biggie: Voletta Wallace Remembers Her Son, Christopher Wallace, aka Notorious B.I.G.” which she penned in 2005. Also, in an attempt to keep the legacy of her son, she produced the biographical drama film Notorious together with Wayne Barrow in 2009.
His Marriage To Faith Evans And The Child He Got Out Of The Relationship
Biggie Smalls and wife Faith Evans Image SourceAs regards his personal life, The Notorious BIG was a married man. In 1994, he walked down the aisle with R&B singer and label mate on Bad Boy Records, Faith Evans.
Their relationship seemed to be on the fast lane as shortly after they met at a Bad Boy photoshoot, they decided they wanted to share the rest of their lives together, leading to their marriage. Unfortunately, the union was not one devoid of issues as Biggie Smalls was accused of infidelity, prompting his wife to separate from him.
On October 29, 1996, Evans gave birth to the only child of the couple, Christopher Jordan Wallace. The younger Wallace has today also chosen the path of showbiz, although as an actor. He is mostly recognized for playing his father in the aforementioned biopic, Notorious (2009). More so, he has made appearances in other movies, including Everything Must Go (2010) and Kicks (2016).
Three years before the birth of Christopher Jr., T’Yanna was birthed to the late legendary rapper by his longtime girlfriend and high school sweetheart, Jan Jackson. Born on August 8, 1993, T’Yanna has decided to become a fashion designer. She owns the Notorious Clothing.
Musical Beginnings And Breakthrough
From a very young age, The Notorious BIG had started living a rather dangerous lifestyle. Although he was beyond an average student when he attended Queen of All Saints Middle School and even took home several awards in English class, he would later find himself entangled in crime. However, that was after he went to Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School and then George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School from where he finally dropped out.
While he was still in school and excelling, Wallace chose to sell drugs and get involved in criminal activities until he dropped out when he was 17. A year later, he was arrested and sentenced to five years of probation for illegally possessing a weapon. This will catch up with him a year later as he got arrested for violating his probation. By 19, he was arrested again for dealing on crack cocaine for which he spent nine months in jail before making bail.
While in jail, The Notorious BIG honed his rap skills as he had previously rapped to entertain people in school and on the streets. Upon his release, he launched his career with a mixtape under the moniker Biggie Smalls. The mixtape was too good to be ignored by Sean Combs who decided to throw him a deal with Uptown with which he worked at the time.
Not long after that, Combs was shown the way out of Uptown and so, he decided to form his own record label; Bad Boy Records. As one would expect, he took Smalls with him but as a result of legal issues, the rapper now changed his name to The Notorious B.I.G, signalling the birth of a new thing in rap music.
In 1994, The Notorious B.I.G. released his debut album, Ready to Die to critical and commercial acclaim. Only two months after the album dropped, it nailed a gold certificate before stretching effortlessly into selling over four million copies. He later got a Grammy nomination for the single, “Big Poppa”.
How The Notorious BIG Was Assassinated
While his music career continued to soar, things were gradually turning sour in the background as one of his closest friends, Tupac Shakur got caught up in the East Coast Vs. West Coast feud.
In 1994, an attempt was made on the life of rival rapper and then-arch enemy, Tupac who was shot five times. Even before he was fully back to his feet, Pac made it clear that he believed Combs and Smalls were behind the attack.
Although efforts were made at settling the beef between the two rap giants, it all came to nought as they continued to release tracks dissing each other.
When Tupac released his track, “Hit Em’ Up” in which the West Coast rapper claimed to have slept with Biggie’s wife and said the East Coast rapper was marked, it was clear that the feud had taken another turn.
On September 7, 1996, the news broke that Pac had been shot dead. Again, fingers pointed at The Notorious BIG and Combs, both of whom denied having a hand in the tragic event. No one was arrested for the murder.
On March 9, 1997, an SUV drove right beside Smalls’ car and shots were fired at Biggie, the same way as Pac. The Notorious BIG died before the release of his second album, Life After Death which was set for release the same month.
Although no one was arrested for the death of both Pac and Biggie, their end saw to the demise of the West Coast Vs East Coast feud.