During the heat of the '90s, Brooklyn-born Wallace revitalized the East Coast hip-hop scene at a time when the industry was dominated by West Coast rappers. The divide ultimately led to the famed costal duel between Wallace and Los Angeles-born rapper Tupac Shakur. Despite the growing hostility between the hip-hop stars, Wallace reinvigorated East Coast music with timeless hits such as "Big Poppa," "Juicy," and "Hypnotize. Wallace passed away at the age of 24 on March 9, in an unsolved, drive-by-shooting that has left deep-rooted conspiracies tied to the music industry. On the eve of his death anniversary, CR remembers the oft-disputed friend-turned-foe tale of Shakur and Wallace battling for hip-hop's throne. Wallace grew up in a Jamaican family in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. His mother worked two jobs in order to send him to private schools, where he won multiple awards in English. He earned the nickname "Big" from other students because of his larger-than-life appearance.
Who Was Biggie Smalls?
Christopher Wallace, a. He was the son of Jamaican parents, Voletta Wallace, a pre-school teacher, and George Latore, a welder and small-time politician. He was raised in the poor Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant.
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He was 24 years old when he was gunned down in in Los Angeles, a murder that has never been solved. Smalls was from New York and had almost single-handedly reinvented East Coast hip hop — overtaken in the early s by the West Coast "g-funk" sound of Dr. Dre and Death Row Records. With his clear, powerful baritone, effortless flow on the mic and willingness to address the vulnerability, as well as the harshness, of the hustler lifestyle, Smalls swung the spotlight back towards New York and his label home, Bad Boy Records. He styled himself as a gangster and although he was no angel, in reality he was more of a performer than a hardened criminal. In this regard, he was similar to Tupac Shakur , his one-time friend turned bitter rival — a contest that spiraled horrifyingly out of control leaving neither man alive to tell the tale.
Rooted in the New York rap scene and gangsta rap traditions, he is considered one of the greatest rappers of all time. His music was often semi-autobiographical, telling of hardship and criminality, but also of debauchery and celebration. His debut album Ready to Die was met with widespread critical acclaim, and included his signature songs " Juicy " and " Big Poppa ". The album made him the central figure in East Coast hip hop , and restored New York's visibility at a time when the West Coast hip hop scene was dominating hip hop music.