The Notorious B.I.G remains, for many, the best rapper that ever lived. The music world was forever shifted in 1997 when he was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting in LA. To this day, his murder remains unsolved, and many aspects of the rap icon’s identity remain a mystery. And today marks the 20th anniversary of his untimely death.
He is, as legendary selector Theo Parrish says in The Wire magazine, the master of “eloquent aggression.” But there’s plenty more to him than you might think. If you’re a Biggie Stan, you may know all of the below, but there’s definitely some surprises for even the biggest Big Poppa fans in the mix. Here are 20 facts you may not have known about Christopher Wallace.
1. You can actually hear the Notorious B.I.G. receiving oral sex on the album Ready to Die.
In a Huffington Post interview, P Diddy revealed that Biggie is actually getting head at the end of “Respect”. “In the interlude, is Big actually getting some head?” Diddy responds, “Yeah,” and laughs. He continued, “These are questions that nobody’s ever asked, and I think Big would be alright with it.”
2. He wasn’t the original Biggie Smalls
Calvin Lockhart, star of stage and screen, had the character name of Biggie Smalls in the 1975 film Let’s Do It Again. This was of course used by the late rapper as his own moniker.
3. He used to freestyle on the street before he blew up
4. Tupac reportedly bought Biggie his first Rolex
Everyone knows that Pac and Biggie used to be good friends before they ignited the rap feud which started the great East vs West Coast rap beef. But Pac also apparently bought Big his first Rolex – highlighting how tight they once were.
5. He was discovered by P Diddy in The Source
In March 1992, Wallace was featured in The Source‘s Unsigned Hype column dedicated to aspiring rappers, and made a recording off the back of this success .
6. The Source would later give his album Ready to Die a near perfect 4.5 mic score
Stating “Big weaves tales like a cinematographer,” The Source heaped praise on Biggie’s album, giving it a near-perfect rating.
7. Biggie was a notorious ghostwriter
Biggie ghost-wrote “Queen Bitch” for Lil’ Kim, making the ‘reference track’ to show Lil’ Kim how to find her flow. According to NME, quite a few of Lil’ Kim’s rhymes were ghostwritten by her former lover and mentor.
8. Faith Evans caught him in bed with Lil’ Kim
During an interview with Wendy Williams, Faith revealed Biggie’s infidelities and revealed the time she caught he and Lil’ Kim in bed.
9. He did a commercial for malt liquor company St Ides
10. Biggie was a “straight A student”
Alongside attending the same high school as Jay Z and Busta Rhymes and DMX no less. At one point, Biggie was a “straight A student,” according to The Huffington Post.
11. He distributed copies of Ready to Die from his house
Biggie distributed copies of Ready to Die on cassette at his house, which resulted in hundreds queuing up around the block. Busta Rhymes said, “I watched Biggie give away Ready to Die and thought he was crazy. From his house, dubbing the album on a double cassette deck and had a line in front of his crib on St. James like he was selling the best c*ke ever. That was like the most illest sh*t because it was his way of marketing himself.”
12. His parents were born in Jamaica
If you listen closely to some of Biggie’s lyrics, you’ll notice they’re laced with Caribbean patois, such as “bludclart crying,” and “lamb’s bread” instead of weed.
13. Michael Jackson used Biggie for a verse
Michael Jackson didn’t work with a lot of rappers, but he did request for a chance to work with Biggie for his 1995 track “This Time Around.”
14. Ready to Die was recorded in two parts
“Ready To Die,” “Gimme The Loot” and “Things Done Changed” were recorded in 1993, where Biggie was higher-pitched and sounding jumped-up and intense. He returned to the studio to record the second half of the album in 1994, possessing a slicker, more confident tone on tracks like “One More Chance.”
15. He has a collaboration with none other than Shaq
16. Cam’ron was signed rapping for Biggie whilst he was in bed with two girls
XXL today revealed that Cam’Ron was signed by rapping to Biggie in ridiculous circumstances, “He had broke his leg or something at the time, so he was in his bed with his leg broke with two girls in the bed and I just remember rapping for him for like 25 minutes straight and he was like, ‘You can stop now. You dope! I want to fuck with you.’”
17. Biggie loved pranking people
18. He was the master of ‘Sneak Dissing’
Before Drake became renowned for subliminal dissing, Biggie laid down the marker for how to go after rappers without calling them out explicitly. For instance, on “Kick In The Door,” Biggie repeatedly sneak disses Nas over and over – “Your reign on the top was short like leprechauns/As I crush so-called willies, thugs and rapper dons” – listen below.
19. Biggie is getting honoured with his own gallery showcase in Brooklyn to commemorate his death.
Art inspired by the Notorious B.I.G. will cover a gallery in his native Bed-Stuy. It is going up shortly to commemorate this landmark year.
20. Biggie was literally Ready to Die when recording the album
As a 22-year old former drug dealer, Biggie had a sick mother to look after and a baby daughter to feed – there was no guarantees that despite his record deal he was going to make it through 1994 alive – which explains his abject nihilism throughout the album.
In other music news, Drake’s ‘More Life’ will be dropping soon. Find out everything we know about the project right here.
- Cover Image: NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images