Today (May 21) marks the birth of one of hip-hop's most gifted MCs: the Notorious B.I.G. The Brooklyn native, had it not been for his tragic death on March 9, 1997, at the age of 24, would have been celebrating his 39th birthday most likely alongside his mother, Voletta Wallace and his two children, T'yanna and CJ.

While his passing was untimely, the mark he made in rap circles was not. His debut album, 'Ready to Die,' released in 1994, featured 19 tracks that depicted the life of a young black man from one of Brooklyn's toughest neighborhoods: Bedford-Stuyvesant. From the famed 'Juicy' track ("Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis/ When I was dead broke, man, I couldn't picture this") to the grittiness of 'Gimme the Loot' ("N----, you ain't got to explain s---/ I've been robbing motherf---ers since the slave ship"), he was unapologetic in his rhymes.

His sophomore release, which debuted several weeks after he was gunned down and was eerily titled 'Life After Death,' showcased more of his colorful storytelling and lyrical dexterity. Two discs were filled with songs like the Mase and Diddy-assisted 'Mo Money Mo Problems,' where Biggie detailed how living the life of a rich and famous rapper wasn't always that easy, and 'Sky's the Limit' featuring 112 saw him waxing poetic about reaching for a dream in the midst of a world filled with drugs and violence.

From his braggadocio raps to his way with the ladies -- Faith Evans, Lil' Kim, Charli Baltimore -- Notorious B.I.G. left a memorable impact on those who heard his rhyme schemes and were blessed to know him.

Watch Notorious B.I.G.'s 'Sky's the Limit'


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