20 years ago today, we lost one of the most influential and talented rappers that has ever gripped a microphone, Christopher Wallace AKA The Notorious B.I.G. Wallace recorded a successful demo tape under the name Biggie Smalls which was received the attention of NY based DJ Mister Cee, this led to appearing on The Source in their Unsigned Hype column. Sean Combs (later known as Puff Daddy, Diddy, and 10 other ridiculous nicknames) was impressed by the tape and Biggie was signed to the newly minted Bad Boy Records in 1992. After a few appearances on soundtracks (Who’s The Man) and remixes, including Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love remix”, B.I.G. released his debut album in Ready To Die in 1994 (check out our Best Of 1994 Hip Hop Playlist). The album was responsible for shifting the focus in the hip hop landscape back to NY, in a period where the West Coast dominated radio due to the success of Death Row Records. Ready To Die became a hip hop classic and one of the most influential albums of all time.

In 1995, Biggie became wrapped up in a bitter rivalry that with Tupac Shakur, which eventually led to the murder of both hip hop artists. Despite his troubles in the West Coast, Wallace traveled to Los Angeles in 1997 to promote his 2nd album, the double-disc Life After Death, and film a video for it’s first single “Hypnotize”. On March 9th, Wallace was victim of a brutal drive by which cost him his life, 6 months later after 2pac had shared a similar faith. Sixteen days after his death, Biggie gave hip hop another classic and Life After Death was released, debuting #1 on the Billboard charts. Several posthumous albums were released such as Born Again and Duets: The Final Chapter, but none match the energy that Biggie brought with his first 2 releases. The Notorious B.I.G. only recorded two albums while he was alive but left behind a legacy that influenced some of today’s top artists and timeless music that is considered classic almost 2 decades after his death.

Celebrate Biggie’s life today by playing some of his best tracks, and like Canibus said, never forget that “greatest rapper of all time died on March 9th”.