Monday, March 9, 2009
12 Years Ago Today: Notorious B.I.G. shot and killed in Los Angeles
Christopher George Latore Wallace (May 21, 1972 – March 9, 1997), popularly known by Biggie Smalls (after a fictional gangster in the 1975 film 'Let's Do It Again'), and his primary stage name, The Notorious B.I.G., was an American rapper.
Raised in Brooklyn, New York, Wallace grew up during the peak years of the 1980s' crack epidemic and started dealing drugs at an early age. When Wallace released his debut album with the 1994 record 'Ready to Die', he was a central figure in the East Coast hip-hop scene and increased New York's visibility at a time when hip hop was mostly dominated by West Coast artists.
The following year, Wallace led his childhood friends to chart success through his protégé group, Junior M.A.F.I.A. While recording his second album, Wallace was heavily involved in the East Coast-West Coast hip hop feud, dominating the scene at the time.
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 fifteen days later, hit #1 on the U.S. album charts and was certified Diamond in 2000. Wallace was noted for his "loose, easy flow", dark semi-autobiographical lyrics and storytelling abilities. Since his death, a further three albums have been released. MTV ranked him at #3 on their list of The Greatest MCs of All Time. Because of his success and influence on music, he has become a cultural icon.
Wallace traveled to California in February 1997 to promote his upcoming album and record a music video for its lead single, "Hypnotize". On March 5, 1997 Wallace gave a radio interview with The Dog House on KYLD in San Francisco. In the interview he stated that he had hired security since he feared for his safety, but this was because he was a celebrity figure, not specifically a rapper. 'Life After Death' was scheduled for release on March 25, 1997.
On March 8, 1997, he presented an award to Toni Braxton at the 11th Annual 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 "Puffy" Combs and members of the Bloods and Crips gangs.
On March 9, 1997, at around 12:30 a.m., Wallace left with his entourage in two GMC Suburbans to return to his hotel after the Fire Department closed the party early due to overcrowding. Wallace traveled in the front passenger seat alongside his associates, Damion "D-Roc" Butler, Junior M.A.F.I.A. member Lil' Cease and driver, Gregory "G-Money" Young. Combs traveled in the other vehicle with three bodyguards. The two trucks were trailed by a Chevrolet Blazer carrying Bad Boy's director of security.
By 12:45 a.m. the streets were crowded with people leaving the event. Wallace's truck stopped at a red light 50 yards (46 m) from the museum. A black Chevy Impala pulled up alongside Wallace's truck. The driver of the Impala (an African-American male neatly dressed in a blue suit and bow tie) rolled down his window, drew a 9 mm blue-steel pistol and fired numerous rounds into the GMC Suburban; four bullets hit Wallace in the chest. Wallace was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center by his entourage but was pronounced dead at 1:15 a.m.
"I'll Be Missing You"
at 8:13 AM