R.I.P. Notorious BIG

. Mar 9, 2008

Today, March 9th, marks the 11th anniversary of the death of Christopher Wallace, known to the world as Biggie, Notorious BIG, Biggie Smalls, Big Poppa, among others. A child of Brooklyn, a home to many influential hip artists, including Big Daddy Kane, Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, ODB, Biggie was no rookie to the hip hop game. Heavily influenced by the crack epidemic in his local surroundings, he became hooked to the crack game at an early age - supposedly at the age of twelve.

In spite of the social pressures surrounding him, Big was determined to make it known to the world how gifted he was lyrically. Before dropping his nationally-acclaimed Ready To Die, his voice became known while performing on such songs as Mary J. Blige's "Real Love" and Craig Mack's "Flava in Ya Ear (remix)." In a time when the rap game was dominated by West Coast music, Big's Ready to Die, according to Rolling Stone, "almost single-handedly... shifted the focus back to East Coast rap."

Ultimately, however, with "mo' money" came "mo' problems." It goes without saying that success, to a large extent, accentuates and pronounces the trivial matters of life. The height of the East Coast-West Coast feud was heavily tangible when Tupac claimed that Biggie's affiliates shot him in an NYC studio in '94, when Tupac claimed to have slept with Faith and Big acknowledged that fact on a Jay-Z record ("If Fay' had twins, she'd probably have two-Pac's/Get it? .. Tu-pac's"), and when Snoop Dogg shouted to a NYC crowd at the Source Awards that, "We ain't got no love for the East Coast." Especially more troublesome to this feud was the untimely death of Tupac Shakur, who was shot to death on September 7, 1996, an event that signaled a turn of events not only for Big but also for the hip hop community.

Shortly after Tupac's death, while Big was promoting his new album Life After Death, his life was cut short, as well, after having shown up for the 11th Annual Soul Train Music Awards in Los Angeles. To this day, his - and Tupac's - murder remain unsolved, although there are a variety of theories that contemplate what happened during that heart-wrenching night. Are the Crips to blame? Suge Knight? LAPD? One thing is for certain: the hip hop community and the world lost a very talented individual, whose skills perpetuate as inimitable, a style never to be imitated again, whose ability to compose multi-syllabic words in quick succession, while at the same time developing a complex story right before our ears, drew a crowd wherever he went and amassed a following for this highly-provocative and influential MC. He could put you in a great mood; on the other hand, his ability to describe vividly the everyday struggles of everyone, even at a very general level (despite the difficulty), made it quite effortlessly for people to relate. Truly one of a kind, Big will forever be missed. R.I.P.