Perhaps the most authentic and greatest rapper of all time, The Notorious B.I.G. was the living personification of the rough and tough Brooklyn Streets of the 90s.
He died at the young age of 24 in the famous drive-by shooting that resulted from the East coast and West coast feud that fueled the careers of both Biggie and Tupac and ultimately got them both killed.
In the short time span that was his life, Biggie Smalls left a massive impact on the world, and only his debut album Ready to Die had been released at the time of his death, his influence continues to be felt in hip-hop music today.
Christopher George Lattore Wallace, or The Notorious B.I.G. had a natural inclination for the streets, cutting his teeth selling crack at just 12 years old.
He quickly became “Notorious” for this around the Bed-Stuy neighborhood where he lived, and eventually, in 1990 the police nabbed him with drug and weapons charges and he had to serve 9 months in prison.
Before his prison sentence, Biggie had already started rapping, but it wasn’t something that he took very seriously at the time. He was more concerned with selling crack than with rapping, yet he had an undeniable knack for lyricism and could easily spit hard right off the dome.
The rapping came naturally to him, likely as a result of his being raised on the streets. He was as real as they come, and everybody knew it right away.
Since The Notorous B.I.G. came up during a time before technology really took over the world, there isn’t much photo or video documentation of his teenage years.
There is, however, one very famous clip from 1989 where Biggie freestyles on a street corner and completely blows away everybody watching, even us watching nearly 25 years after the fact. He just has such an effortless flow, never once losing his stream of consciousness even while the crowd around him grows increasingly excited.
In 2009, the clip was recreated verbatim by director George Tillman Jr. in the biopic Notorious, which dramatizes the life and times of Christopher Wallace a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G. In Notorious, the scene is almost identical, except instead of just being a day in the life moment, the scene in the movie shows Biggie taking on an old head and schooling him at his own game.
Rapper Birdman plays the part, and funnily enough his career truly did start to decline after his Notorious cameo, but that’s neither here nor there.
Watch the grainy 1989 Biggie Smalls freestyle below, and watch the dramatized version from the 2009 film Notorious below that.