March 9, 1997: The Murder of Notorious B.I.G.


Christopher George Latore Wallace, best known as The Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls or Biggie, was an American rapper and songwriter. While recording his second album in 1996, he became involved in the east coast vs. west coast hip hop feud, and after Tupac Shakur's drive-by shooting death, rumors of his involvement began to circulate.

On March 9, 1997, he was murdered by a still unknown shooter in a drive-by while in LA, his second album Life After Death being released 2 weeks later, which reached number 1 on the Billboard 200.

3 additional albums have been released since his death, and to this day, he is known as one of the greatest rappers of all time.


Wallace was born in Brooklyn on May 21, 1972, to Jamaican immigrant parents. He was their only child. His mother, a preschool teacher, took additional jobs after his welder and politician father left the family when he was only 2 years old.

He did well in middle school, assuming the nickname "Big" because he was overweight by the time he was 10. He began dealing drugs when he was 12, and his mom didn't find out until much later due to her busy work schedule.

He got involved in rapping, and at his request, transferred high schools where future rappers such as DMX, Jay-Z and Busta Rhymes attended. Though he remained a good student, his mom said he developed a "smart-ass attitude" while attending school there, and he dropped out when he was 17.

After dropping out of high school, he became involved in crime. He was arrested in 1989 for weapons charges, 1990 for violating the probation from his first arrest, and 1991 for dealing crack cocaine.

After he got out of jail, he put out his first demo tape entitled Microphone Murder under the name Biggie Smalls, allegedly without the intent of it becoming popular or allowing him to get discovered, but it did. Sean "Puffy" Combs heard the tape and signed him to his label, Uptown Records, immediately. Combs was fired from Uptown soon after and started his own record company, Bad Boy Records, which Wallace signed to.

Around the same time in 1993, Wallace's ex-girlfriend gave birth to their child, T'yanna. He wanted her to excel in school, and continued dealing drugs to support her, but quit when Combs found out.

Now going by the Notorious B.I.G., he was gaining popularity following a feature on Mary J Blige's single Real Love and various other popular features.

He married Faith Evans in 1994 and came out with his first album Ready to Die the same year, which received extensive praise. He became friends with Tupac Shakur and Shaquielle O'Neal around the same time.

In 1995, his protege group Junior MAFIA, including Lil Kim and Lil Cease who went on to have successful solo careers, came out with their album Conspiracy.

He was becoming extremely successful at this time, and became involved in the rivalry between east and west coast hip hop scenes, which turned his friendship with Tupac into a feud. Tupac claimed that the founder of Uptown Records, Combs and Wallace had prior knowledge of an armed robbery that resulted in being shot 5 times and having thousands of dollars of jewelry stolen, but Wallace denied involvement.

Tupac was in jail for a period of time, and when he got out, he joined Death Row Records, a rival of Bad Boy Records, intensifying the feud.

In 1996, Wallace was arrested outside of a nightclub in Manhattan for chasing and threatening to kill 2 autograph-seeking fans, smashing their taxi's window in and punching one of the girls. He was arrested later the same year for drugs and weapons possession.

In the summer of 1996, Tupac released a diss track where he claimed to have had sex with Faith Evans, who Wallace was now estranged from. And, on September 7, 1996, Tupac was shot in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, and died from his injuries 6 days later. Given the very public feud between the 2 rappers, rumors of Wallace's involvement spread quickly. However, he called Evans crying the night he died, and she believed that their public "beef" was just for show and he didn't have any malice towards him. His producer said that he was in the studio recording the night of the shooting.

In October, Evans gave birth to she and Wallace's son Christopher "C.J" Wallace Jr. around the same time Wallace was having a "love affair" with Lil Kim.

During the recording of his second album, he got into a car accident after using a car with knowingly faulty breaks, leaving him in the hospital and temporarily confined to a wheelchair. In January of 1997, he had to pat out $41,000 after a friend of a concert promoter claimed Wallace beat him up.


In February of 1997, Wallace traveled to California to promote his new album Life After Death and to record a video for its lead single. He had a security detail and said he feared for his safety, but only because he was a notable celebrity and not because of the feud. (1)

On March 8, Wallace attended the Annual Soul Train Music Awards where he presented Toni Braxton with an award, where he got some boos in the audience. Nevertheless, he attended the after party, with guests such as Combs, Aailyah, and members of both the Crips and Bloods gangs.

The party was shut down by the fire department at around 12:30am for overcrowding, and Wallace and his entourage piled into the car to head to their hotel. He was in the passenger seat.

While stopped at a read light, the driver of a black Chevy Impala stopped next to them, wearing a blue suit and bow tie, rolled down his window and fired 4 times into their car, hitting Wallace. He was taken to the hospital immediately, but despite the doctors' best efforts, he was pronounced dead at 1:15am.

Immediately, his death was tied to Tupac's given the extremely similar nature of their deaths - 2 prominent, successful rappers both being shot in drive-bys by unidentified assailants. However, no one has ever been officially charged with either. (2)

Writer Randall Sullivan alleged that co-founder of Death Row Records and known Bloods affiliate conspired with a corrupt LAPD officer to kill Wallace, making both deaths look like part of the rivalry. Though the theory supposedly came from an informant, this has never been proven, along with the many other proposed theories.

Another theory came from retired LAPD officer Greg Kading, who worked on a gang task force and worked on Wallace's murder, thinks that gang member Wardell "Poochie" Fouse killed him. He died in 2003, but be believes he was hired to kill Wallace because Combs had ordered the hit on Tupac.

Many thousands of people attended Notorious B.I.G's funeral, including notable gests such as Lil Cease, Queen Latifah, Flava Flav, Mary J. Blige, Lil Kim, Run DMC, Busta Rhymes and Salt-N-Pepa. (1)

His album, Life After Death came out 16 days after his death, reaching number 1 on the Billboard 200. His lyrics have been sampled and quoted by many a R&B artist and rapper, and he is still known as one of the greatest rappers of all time today.




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