On the early morning of March 9th 1997, Christopher Wallace was driving back to his hotel following an after party hosted by Vibe Magazine for the 11th Annual Soul Train Music Awards in Los Angeles, California. He was riding in the front passanger seat and when his car stopped at a red light, a black Chevrolet Impala pulled up next to it. The window rolled down, and suddenly four bullets from a 9 mm blue-steel pistol hit Wallace directly in the chest. Half an hour later in the nearby Cedars-Sinai Hospital, Notorious BIG was pronounced dead.
Starting around the end of eighth grade and freshman year of high school, my taste for hip-hop music was already very well established. My love for Biggie Smalls developed alongside other artists like Eminem, D12, Dr. Dre, Mobb Depp, Method Man, 2pac, The Roots, and Jurassic 5, but for some reason I always insisted that Notorious BIG was my favorite. There was just something about his flow, his beats, his lyrics, and his personality that drew me to his music. And today, despite my eclectic taste in all different kinds of music and artists, he is still my favorite.
I think the world of hip-hop and music in general would be very different today if the rivalry between the east coast Bad Boy Records and the west coast Death Row Records had never resulted in the violent deaths of Christopher Wallace and Tupac Shakur – who are easily two of the greatest artists who ever lived, in my humble opinion. While the connection between the two murders was never proven, its a sad reality that the lives of two people full of creativity and musical genius were ended within a short seven months of each other.
Notorious BIG’s second record, ironically titled Life After Death and released fifteen days after his murder, is a true testament to the impact of his short-lived but incredibly talented career, because he really does have a life after his untimely death. Today, at this moment while I am writing this article, four out of the ten trending topics on Twitter are about Notorious BIG. Several of the Top 25 Most Played songs in my iTunes are his songs. His music is still constantly played at parties, his beats are constantly remixed and adapted, and his lyrics are constantly sampled and quoted.
As a tribute to the 24 years of Christopher Wallace’s short life, here are some of my favorite songs. Enjoy listening to them.
To end this tribute on a celebratory note, check out the best scene from Ten Things I Hate About You made possible by Notorious BIG’s music: