Biography and Impact of the Notorious B.I.G

Notorious B.I.G.–The One Stirs Hip-Pop
Deriving from the chaotic society of the 1970s’ America, the Hip-Pop culture has been witnessing its thriving through time, emerging a lot of great artists in the world. At the beginning of the 1970s, there were various revolutionary events in American society, including the demonstrations against the Vietnam war, the African-American Civil Rights Movement, and the arising of funk music. Under such an environmental atmosphere, the Brooks area was quite a mess, with highways directly crossing the blocks, buildings standing in great density, and infrastructure construction staying backward. Thus, with those in middle-class moving out, more and more African Americans came and settled in this chaotic area, bringing a series of problems caused by poverty. The whole society was put in a worse situation, full of drug abuse, and high unemployment. As a result, when we take a look back to the earlier Hip-Pop works, it would not be hard to find out that most of the works contain the inner world of those in oppression at that time as well as reveal a society full of darkness and injustice. The derivation of Hip-Pop culture decides its role as to reveal the oppressive situation of African-Americans in history, making it impossible to separate Hip-Pop culture from social development. Hip-Pop culture, as a type in the musical world, keeps giving a hint to people, supporting those in difficult situations with its endowed strength. When it refers to the development of Hip-Pop culture, there are numerous giant artists worthy of mentioning about, of whom, Notorious B.I.G is seen as a typical figure due to his great contribution to the evolvement of Hip-Pop.

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Notorious B.I.G, earlier named Christopher Wallace, was born on May 21, 1972, in Brooklyn, New York, where the Hip-Pop began to thrive at that time as a new culture.[1] It is said that Notorious B.I.G named himself Biggie simply for the reason of being over-weighted. He is such an interesting person, though, with an appearance that has nothing to do with adoration. Raised in the poor and unsettled Brook area, Biggie dropped out of school at en age of seventeen and was once trapped in the illegal drug dealing for earning a living. The drug dealing, as confessed himself, was actually the only source of income at that time. Luckily, his gifted talents in music and rap shifted this awful condition soon after he spent the nine months in a bar and became an MC. Biggie’s earlier tapes obtained the attention of some great figures in the rap industry, especially represented by the famous Puffy. Noticing Biggie’s gifted talents, he signed Biggie to his new label, Bad Boy Records, which made a huge success in the field. After the success of the album titled “Ready to Die”, Biggie was awarded the name of MC at the 1995 Billboard Music Awards.  This album of Biggie really made a stir in the Hip-Pop world then, for being entitled as the top piece in the East Coast Hip-Pop industry. According to records, Ready to Die was ranked in the top 10 of Rolling Stone’s 100 Best Albums of The Nineties, as well as their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time[2].
Adoring Biggie’s talents and what he’d achieved in the field, Tupac Shakur of Death Row Records came to Biggie, offering some advice and supporting him. Unfortunately, the friendship failed to last after the accident happened while Biggie and Puffy were at a recording in Manhattan. These important figures in the rap field easily triggered a rivalry between the East Coast and the West Coast, specifically showing as Death Row Records versus Bad Boy Records, Marion ‘Suge’ Knight versus Puffy, and Tupac versus Biggie. Tupac soon got shot, leaving the rival situation unsettled. Biggie, driven by the held responsibility, decided to put an end to the rivalry, so he headed to the west coast to call it an end, yet ended being shot several times. Biggie died in 1997, the year when he was just 24 years old. It is easy to tell that Biggie is really an influential figure in the history of Hip-Pop culture. The death of Biggie brought immense sorrow to Hip-Pop, but his left overworks and spirits last long till today.
When we take a look back to his experience and influence, we may find out how Biggie succeeded in making himself an icon within Hip-Pop culture in history. Raising up in Brooklyn, an area full of violent crimes and drug dealing as well as newly coming-up artists in Hip-Pop culture, Biggie was yet more influenced by his Jamaican heritage, which laid a great foundation for his milky flows in certain language undertones. Jamaicans have had a great influence in the Hip-Pop culture, and the famous Clive Campbell is known as the founding father of Hip-Pop culture. Biggie, as such an icon, further attached more contributions to the Hip-Pop culture on behalf of Jamaican-born youth. At the end of the 20th century, with the development of technology and economy, New York, the place gathering most of the Hip-Pop artists, became typical of the city of the whole postindustrial America. During that period, it was the West Coast style gangsta rap that took the leading role in the industry of Hip-Pop, and New York City had failed to produce a multiplatinum star in many years. Under such a situation where the East Coast style gangsta rap took the disadvantage in the industry, Biggie released his album, Ready to Die, surprisingly shifting the musical dominance back to the East Coat gangsta rap almost in his single hand. It was an immense change and shocked the whole Hip-Pop industry. Biggie, a fairly new one in the industry, made his own way to pull back the musical dominance from the East Coast to the West Coast while for many years, hip-poppers in East Coast were left no choice but to accept that the kingdom of Hip-Pop industry had shifted to West Coast. Biggie was thought high for he “in just a few short years the Notorious B.I.G went from Brooklyn street hustler to the savior of East coast hip-hop[3].
As an important part of black street culture, Hip Hop music is a reflection of the character of many the genereal population. As mentioned above, in the development of Hip Hop, many gangs and branches were derived, and many social factors other than music also affected the division of these genres. Therefore, besides music, there are many social and emotional intersections in the relationship between the gangs. For example, the crip and the blood have been opposing each other[4]. At first, the business battles caused the two parties to slap with death and injury, and continued revenge. . Another example is 2PAC, a singer from the West Coast (rapper gang), who had a conflict with the East Coast singer Biggie. Later, 2PAC became more and more popular in the rap industry and began to regain the top spot in the sales of American Hip Hop records, which further aroused the jealousy of competitors on the East Coast such as Biggie and further intensified gang conflicts. 2PAC was attacked in 1994 with six shots. In September 1996, 2PAC was shot four times in Vegas, his lungs were punctured and he died of suffocation[5]. In 1997, Biggie was killed at a airport. The contradiction between the two and their gangs leads to a great wave of public opinion in American society.
Biggie was so talented that he never let his audiences down by continually presenting the Hip-Pop world works like, Kick in the Door”, “Ten Crack Commandments”, “Hypnotize” and “Mo Money, Mo Problems”, through which, he also made his own way in attempting to please audiences with such different preferences simultaneously and doing his job so brilliantly[6]. Biggie was born to be an icon in Hip-Pop culture, evidenced by his precise and unique opinion concerning the flow in a song. As Biggie once said, “Flow is like water. It’s like a current. It’s the fluidity of your words — and how and flows fast on it because it’s the structure of the words. Or you could take a fast beat and really screw it up and make it slow. Flow is a beautiful thing.” [7]After all, Biggie never forgot his pursuit in the flow. Unlike the other artists at that time and before, he always found a way to create a unique flow in a complete Biggie’s style, far beyond what the audiences could expect. His baritone flow, for instance, is on a rather unpredictable iambic pentameter. Audiences may easily find that most of his songs are added with flip and flow quite displaced and disordered comparing with those of others. As for the contents of his songs, comparing with Tupac’s, which contain obvious verbal activists against police brutality faced by African Americans at that time, pay more attention to his inner-world as a performer. As is shown in some quotes of his songs:
“I’m living every day like a hustle, another drug to juggle. Another day, another struggle.” (Every Day Struggle)
“I wonder if I died, would tears come to her eyes? Forgive me for my disrespect, forgive me for my lies.” (Suicidal Thoughts)
“Damn right I like the life I live, because I went from negative to positive.”(Juicy)
Till today, Biggie’s gifted skills in lyrics written and storytelling influence the Hip-Pop world. Artists in Hip-Pop of today are still amazed by his incredible rhymes with perfect and milky flow. To conclude Biggie’s contribution to Hip-Pop culture, it would be far from enough only to mention the awards given for his albums. Of course, most of his songs are so high-quality and influential that these works continue to affect millions of artists and audiences across the globe. However, the Hip-Pop world shall never forget that the album Ready to Die, to some extent, created a turning point under the situation where the musical dominance had been shifted to West Coast for years. Biggie, as a new-arising rapper, single-handedly changed the whole Hip-Pop industry at that time. When it comes to Biggie’s personal experience and charm, he is seen as a pedestal and icon in Hip-Pop culture since Biggie led a unique lifestyle in which there were drugs, cars, women, and many other things. Biggie made himself an unparalleled figure in Hip-pop by shifting his own life from a young-aged drug dealer to one of the most valued and influential rappers in the whole world. Hip-Pop fans blocked the streets of Brooklyn on the day when Biggie passed away to mourn and honor the loss of a giant in the world Hip-Pop culture. In short, though, his legendary life didn’t last long, yet leaving the Hip-Pop world a lifestyle and even a Hip-Pop spirit to linger on.

Brown, Jake. Ready to die: the story of Biggie Smalls, Notorious BIG, King of the world & New York City: fast money, Puff Daddy, faith and life after death: the unauthorized biography. Amber Books Publishing, 2004.
Kubrin, Charis E. “Gangstas, thugs, and hustlas: Identity and the code of the street in rap music.” Social problems 52.3 (2005): 360-378.
Lang, Holly. The Notorious BIG: A Biography. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007.
Patton, Desmond Upton, Robert D. Eschmann, and Dirk A. Butler. “Internet banging: New trends in social media, gang violence, masculinity and hip hop.” Computers in Human Behavior 29, no. 5 (2013): A54-A59.
Peterson, James. “Notorious BIG.” Icons of Hip Hop: An Encyclopedia of the Movement, Music, and Culture (2007): 417.
Stapleton, Katina R. “From the margins to mainstream: the political power of hip-hop.” Media, culture & society 20.2 (1998): 219-234.

[1] Lang, The Notorious BIG: A Biography,19
[2] Peterson, Notorious BIG. 417.
[3] Brown, Ready to die 92.
[4] Kubrin, Gangstas, 364
[5] Stapleton, From the margins to mainstream: the political power of hip-hop, 229.
[6] Patton, Internet banging, 55
[7] Peterson,Notorious BIG,417.