How Notorious B.I.G. Change Hip-Hop Forever
You have to admit, when you think “unique rap flows,” Notorious B.I.G. has to place in the top 3.
Christopher Wallace, later known as Biggie Smalls or Notorious B.I.G. was taken from us way too early, similar to his friend/rival Tupac Shakur. And though many people compare the two together in the era of the battle of rap, and in the history of Death Row Records, there is a reason why Biggie made his impact on Hip-Hop.
Contrary to some of the artists before him, his baritone flow wasn’t always on the predictable iambic pentameter that you’d expect. Many of his wordplays would flip and flow but seem slightly displaced, embroidering that style as his, and his alone.
The mountain of a man, as it was often referenced, was said to sell drugs, starting at age 12 – a fact that he eluded to in his raps. He didn’t have a desire to go into rap music – but according to texts including Biography, he felt “It was fun just hearing myself on tape over beats.”
He had a high-profile once he began to be a signed artist, especially paired with his relationship with Puff Daddy. But while Tupac was known for his verbal activist against police brutality, Biggie was known as a performer – especially in his biggest cited album known to date, Ready To Die from 1994.
Posthumously, his album Ready To Die has been hailed as the cornerstone marker for the East Cost Rap Scene and thrived while he was alive, going gold within 2 months, and later going double platinum by the following year, according to Biography. It ranks in the top 10 of Rolling Stone‘s 100 Best Albums Of The Nineties, as well as their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
The interesting thing about both Biggie and Tupac is that they both seemed to know death was coming for them and prophesized this fact in their music. The track “Who Shot Ya?” seemed to predict Biggie’s fate, as well as Tupac’s. Once Pac was murdered in September of 1996, many believed that the beef between East and West coasts caused the feud.
Biggie was gunned down March 9 in 1997, and his album Life After Death was released 2 weeks later, with the album image showing Notorious leaning against a hearse. 20 years later, people still are questioning the death of Biggie, and Billboard‘s write up on Ready To Die says a poignant thing about the “Suicidal Thoughts” rapper, that with glorifying the “gangsta lifestyle,” that “Even when he’s celebrating, he’s looking over his shoulder.”
That eerie precursor for his death skyrocketed both albums, proving that Biggie’s life was glorified much more after death, but like many creative geniuses, he battled demons, sometimes ones that people didn’t see. From the technical aspect, the full embodiment of the lifestyle that Biggie lived, with drugs, cars, women, and more left him ranked on the pedestal as the OG gangsta of Rap Music, and is still celebrated 20 years after his death.
Amy Cooper is the type of journalist that when asked “What do you bring to the table,” she replies “I am the table.