Biggie Smalls would have turned 40 today
It's been 15 years since the Notorious B.I.G. was killed in Los Angeles. But in an era when deceased rappers can still headline major festivals (well, in Victorian parlor-trick form), it's always a good time to revisit the catalog and legacy of one of the finest to ever hold a mike. Especially on the anniversary of Biggie Small's birthday, as the MC born Christopher Wallace would have been 40 today.
With only two albums to his name (including one, "Life After Death," released posthumously), his catalog was short, and he didn't leave a vault of unreleased material. But his output and persona were impossibly impactful on rap and pop culture at large, and his slaying remains an emotional, debated case.
He made his on-record character, that of a cocky drug slinger who sees death at his Brooklyn doorstep, a monumental trope of hip-hop. And his flow was like a velvet glove over a coiled fist -- smooth delivery with serious precision.
Just watch this video of him performing on his hometown streets at 17 (17!) to hear just how early he figured out his talents, and lament the career we've missed out on since.
-- August Brown
Photo: Biggie Smalls. Credit: Los Angeles Times. Hat tip to the Awl for the video.