Much has been written and publicized about the death of rapper Christopher Wallace, more famously known as Notorious B.I.G. A quick internet or Google search will lead you to hundreds of articles covering the death of one of “gangsta rap’s” biggest stars.
But how much do you actually really know about the events leading up to the fatal shooting of Biggie Smalls in the early hours of March 9th, 1997? How did Notorious B.I.G. die? Let’s look at the last days, hours, and minutes of his life.
How Did Notorious B.I.G. Die?
Rapper Notorious B.I.G. died after being shot four times in a drive-by shooting a few meters from the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles’ Miracle Mile District on March 9th, 1997.
Having attended an industry party with other rap artists like Sean Combs (P.Diddy), Missy Elliot, and Aaliyah, Biggie was on his way back to his hotel with his entourage when he came to a regular stop at a red light.
A minute later, a dark Chevy Impala pulled up alongside the rapper in his Green GMC Suburban and opened fire on the vehicle.
Despite being rushed to nearby Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre for emergency surgery, Notorious B.I.G. succumbed to his catastrophic injuries and was pronounced dead at 1:15 am.
How old was Biggie when he died? Sadly, he was only 24 years old.
Rumors of a Hit
Biggie Smalls was by no means an angel.
Still, a widely-reported feud between East and West coast rap artists was thought to be the motive for his death, and it was rumored to be a revenge killing after the death of former friend-turned-rival Tupac Shakur only six months before the shooting.
Shakur, too, was said to be gunned down as a result of the feud, but this sparked Biggie and his entourage to try and repair the relationship between the East and West coast rappers and bring peace to the rap industry.
Biggie was interviewed numerous times while promoting his new album, Life After Death, and used these as a platform to express his sadness at Tupac’s death and how he wanted there to be peace between the groups.
Although no one has ever been charged with the death of Biggie, a former F.B.I. agent has come forward to say that he believes the murder was at the instruction of Biggie’s former business associate and rival Death Row Records founder Marion “Suge” Knight.
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Knight was under the impression that Biggie had something to do with Tupac’s death and hired a hit on Biggie to be carried out while the rapper was in L.A. to promote his new album.
Letting his guard down, Biggie thought it would be safe enough to attend the industry event at Petersen Automotive Museum, even though several known gang members had managed to infiltrate the guest list.
No one has ever come forward to claim responsibility for the shooting, and the case remains unsolved.
Notorious B.I.G. Death Scene: The Party At Petersen Automotive Museum
After spending a relatively quiet day with his agent at the Westwood Marquis Hotel on March 8th, Notorious B.I.G. headed out to the Petersen Automotive Museum to attend an industry party where he enjoyed a few drinks with friends and met new and upcoming artists like Aaliyah and Missy Elliot.
He was the man of the moment, and everyone was vying for his attention or just the chance to speak to the rap legend and praise him for his musical talents. The cherry on top was that his latest song, “Hypnotize,” was played every ten minutes to celebrate the release of his new album, Life After Death.
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Unfortunately, Biggie would never see his album released, as he was killed only hours later, just a few feet from the venue. The singer had an entourage that consisted of three security vehicles, with a number of friends and bodyguards making up the passengers.
Sean Combs, better known in the music world as Puffy or P. Diddy, was in the first car, while Biggie and three friends entered the second.
Biggie was seated in the front passenger seat of the green GMC Suburban when they set off and were stopped at a traffic light. At that point, an unknown African American man opened fire on the vehicle with an automatic pistol before speeding away.
Upon hearing the gunshots, Combs and a few others ran to the Suburban, where they found Biggie hunched over and bleeding. With the Cedars-Sinai hospital only a short distance away, the rapper was driven to the hospital and straight into emergency surgery.
It was, however, too late, and Notorious B.I.G. died from the four gunshots.
The immediate response to Biggie’s death was one of shock and anger.
Many believed that the shooting was a planned hit, and rumors of who was behind the shooting soon began to float around. At a time when Biggie, his family, and his record label were supposed to be celebrating the release of his new album, they were instead planning his funeral.
The death of Biggie hit hard for his mother, Violetta Wallace, as the twenty-four-year-old rap artist was her only child and had recently become a father again to son Christopher Wallace Jr.
Biggie left behind ex-wife Faith Evans, their two children, T’yanna and Christoper, and his beloved mother, Violetta.
Related: How Did Coolio Die?
Biggie Small’s Funeral
March 18th, 1997, was a dark day for the music world, as they laid Biggie Smalls to rest at an elaborate funeral at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel in Manhattan.
Attended by 350 mourners, attendees included rap greats Run-DMC, Busta Rhymes, Lil Kim, Mary J. Blige, and of course, close family and friends of the rapper.
Notorious B.I.G. was dressed in a white double-breasted formal suit and a “playa” hat. His coffin, made of Mahogany, was paraded through the streets of his hometown Brooklyn before being laid to rest.
Biggie’s mother, Violetta, spoke of her son as her biggest gift, while ex-wife and mother of his children Faith Evans sang a gospel song titled “Walk With Me, Lord.” The eulogy was performed by long-time friend and producer Sean Combs in a service that highlighted the good person that Biggie was.
Who Got Biggie’s Money?
At the time of his death, Biggie’s estate was worth $10 million, but thanks to record sales, film rights, and merchandise, his estate is said to be worth a whopping $160 million as of 2021.
His estate is managed by his mother, Violetta Wallace, and a team of lawyers, and the majority of his assets were bestowed upon his children.
Violetta ensures that the children are well taken care of and has also put money in a trust for the youngsters.
Biggie Smalls’ Last Words
It seems that everyone always wants to know what someone’s last words were, and in the case of Notorious B.I.G., his last words were somewhat of a foretelling of his future.
After leaving the industry party at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Biggie is said to have played his new song “Hypnotize” loudly through a car’s speakers, with the rapper singing along to the words “I spit phrases that’ll thrill you/You’re nobody until somebody kills you.”
If only he knew what was to come.
Biggie’s Final Album
Notorious B.I.G.s last album, Life After Death, was released two weeks after the rapper died and quickly became one of the best rap albums of all time.
The album hit number one on the Billboard Top 200 and US R&B/Hip Hop Charts. It sold over 10 million copies, reaching diamond status in the United States, platinum in the United Kingdom, and double platinum in Canada.
Life After Biggie
While Biggie is gone and buried, his legacy and his music live on in fans across the world. He will forever be remembered by his beloved fans as one of the best rappers of his time, and his music is still popular today.
Christopher Wallace, a somewhat troubled child from Brooklyn, was and still is one of the biggest rap stars to have graced the music industry, and his unique “gangsta rap” has hit home for many who experienced the same kind of life growing up.
Marion “Suge” Knight is currently in prison, serving a 28-year sentence for the 2015 hit-and-run accident that tragically claimed the life of an innocent bystander. He will be eligible for parole in 2034.
“Suge” has never claimed responsibility for Biggie’s murder, but there are many who believe he was the mastermind behind the shooting that claimed the life of Notorious B.I.G.
R.I.P. Biggie, and thanks for the incredible music that you gifted to the world.
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