Christopher George Latore Wallace was pronounced dead March 9, 1997. Better known by his stage names The Notorious B.I.G., Biggie or Biggie Smalls was raised in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. When he released his debut album Ready to Die in 1994,
On March 9, 1997, Wallace was killed by an unknown assailant in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles. His double-disc set Life After Death, released 16 days later, rose to No. 1 on the U.S. album charts and was certified Diamond in 2000, one of the few hip hop albums to receive this certification.
Born in St. Mary’s Hospital on May 21, 1972, Wallace grew up in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, New York City on 226 St. James Place near the border of Bedford-Stuyvesant. He was the only child of Voletta Wallace, a Jamaican preschool teacher, and Selwyn George Latore, a welder and small-time Jamaican politician.
Wallace began rapping when he was a teenager. He entertained people on the streets and performed with local groups the Old Gold Brothers and the Techniques. In March 1992, Wallace was featured in The Source ’s Unsigned Hype column, dedicated to aspiring rappers, and was invited to produce a recording with other unsigned artists in a move that was reportedly uncommon at the time. The demo tape was heard by Uptown Records A&R and record producer Sean Combs, who arranged for a meeting with Wallace. He was signed to Uptown immediately and made an appearance on label mates,Heavy D & the Boyz.
On August 4, 1994, Wallace married Faith Evans after they met at a Bad Boy photo shoot. Four days later, Wallace had his first pop chart success as a solo artist with double A-side, “Juicy/Unbelievable”, which reached No. 27 as the lead single to his debut album. Ready to Die was released on September 13, 1994, and reached No. 13 on the Billboard 200 chart, eventually being certified four times Platinum. Busta Rhymes claimed to have seen Wallace giving out free copies of Ready to Die from his home, which Rhymes reasoned as “his way of marketing himself.
In his year of success, Wallace became involved in a rivalry between the East and West Coast hip hop scenes with Shakur, now his former friend. In an interview with Vibe in April 1995, while serving time in Clinton Correctional Facility, Shakur accused Uptown Records’ founder Andre Harrell, Sean Combs, and Wallace of having prior knowledge of a robbery that resulted in him being shot five times and losing thousands of dollars worth of jewelry on the night of November 30, 1994.
Wallace traveled to Los Angeles in February 1997, to promote his upcoming second studio album and film a music video for its lead single, “Hypnotize”. The album, Life After Death, was scheduled for release on March 25, 1997.
On March 8, 1997, he presented an award to Toni Braxton at the 1997 Soul Train Music Awards in Los Angeles and was booed by some of the audience. After the ceremony, Wallace attended an after party hosted by Vibe magazine and Qwest Records at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Other guests included Faith Evans, Aaliyah, Sean Combs, and members of the Bloods and Crips gangs. Wallace left in an GMC Suburban SUV.
A dark colored Chevrolet Impala SS pulled up alongside Wallace’s SUV. The driver of the Impala, a black male dressed in a blue suit and bow tie, rolled down his window, drew a 9mm blue-steel pistol and fired at the SUV. Four bullets hit Wallace.
Wallace’s entourage rushed him to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where doctors performed an emergency thoracotomy, but he was pronounced dead at 1:15 a.m. 6 months after Tupac Shakur was killed.