Biggie Death Anniversary: Artists Remember Lauded MC 15 Years Later — Exclusive
It’s hard to imagine what hip-hop would be were it not for Biggie Smalls. No one could have predicted that a kid from Brooklyn, who labeled himself “Notorious,” would go on to change the very fabric of the culture, only to be taken down before his time. While the world will never know what he could have become, in his short career, the man, known to many as Big Poppa, Frank White or Christopher Wallace, turned the game on its side by way of his 1995 debut LP, ‘Ready to Die.’ The title alone foreshadowed what would later become his fate, but more than anything, it brought something to the table that had not previously been heard in the hip-hop world. ‘Ready to Die’ was raw, it was candid, it was violent, but above all else it was real, and it connected with the masses.
Biggie’s music crossed over into R&B and other genres while still staying true to its core fan base, ultimately laying the groundwork for the path followed by MCs like Jay-Z and Kanye West. Only 24 years old at the time of his death, Brooklyn’s finest and his involuntary involvement in the East Coast-West Coast beef ended up costing him his life. What started out as a rift between him and Tupac Shakur not only resulted in both of their murders, but left a wound from which hip-hop has yet to heal.
To mark the 15-year anniversary of the Notorious B.I.G.’s death, The BoomBox caught up with a diverse list of artists — 19 in all — to share their thoughts on the slain MC. From new and old R&B singers like SWV, Eric Benet and Elle Varner to veteran hip-hop figures including Too $hort, DJ Enuff and Pharrell Williams, everyone was touched by his legacy.