A lot has been said about the late great Notorious B.I.G., a man whose life was as large as his frame and whose lyrical prowess is well-documented in hip-hop history books. But how well do you know Big Poppa? In commemoration of the 14th anniversary of Biggie's death, here are some interesting things you probably didn't know about the late icon.
10. He Had Several Stage Monikers: Artists typically go through a laundry list of monikers in the early stages of their careers. Christopher Wallace changed his name more times than Lil Kim changed her nose. Biggie started out as M.C. Quest, and later adopted Biggie Smalls after a character in the 1975 Sidney Poitier/Bill Cosby flick Let's Do It Again.
When another rapper claimed he had the name first, he became Notorious B.I.G. But he loves it when you call him Big Poppa.
9. His Jamaican Roots: Biggie's parents were Jamaican immigrants. His Jamaican heritage, punctuated by his mom's thick accent, was often a source of ridicule in his childhood. His father wasn't around to witness any of it - he left when Biggie was a 14-month baby.
8. His Pen Game: Contrary to popular belief, Biggie didn't always rhyme off the top. He kept a rhyme book handy at the beginning of his career. Shortly after signing a record deal with Bad Boy, Big Poppa ditched his notepad and retired his pen for the rest of his abbreviated career.
7. The Commission: Before his sudden death, Big envisioned a hip-hop supergroup dubbed The Commission. The crew would have comprised of B.I.G, Jay-Z and Charli Baltimore.
6. Turn Me Up: You always hear stories about music celebs making ridiculous studio demands: Bubbly delivered by angels, a blunt rolled by God himself. All Biggie wanted was for his mike levels to be turned all the way up. "That was his biggest complaint," says Easy Mo Bee, Biggie's longtime friend and collaborator.
5. Everyday Struggle: "I know how it feel to wake up fucked up/ Pockets broke as hell, another rock to sell": Like many of the songs on Ready to Die, the opening lines to "Everyday Struggle" betrayed a sense of hopelessness. The song was a semi-autobiographical narrative about Henney Loc, one of Big's neighborhood friends.
4. Mama's Boy: Big was ultimately a mama's boy. In the documentary Notorious B.I.G.: Bigger Than Life, his childhood friends recall an incident in which young Chris Wallace had an argument with his mother. She hung up the phone, picked up an hour later only to realize that Big had stayed on the phone the entire time. Biggie's words to Ms. Wallace: "I'm not putting down the phone until you tell me that you love me."
3. Side Hustle: While waiting for the ink to dry on his newly minted Bad Boy contract, the Black Frank White busied himself with an illegal side hustle. Big's other hustle almost derailed his music career before it started. Police raided his condo in Teaneck, N.J. in 1994 and found guns and weed. Big even admitted that pushing weight wasn't a permanent solution. "You cannot do that forever," Big said. "You will die or eventually go to jail."
2. The 10 Crack Commandments: Coogi sweaters and Gucci shades weren't the only thing Biggie popularized. He also became synonymous with his business advice on the 1997 mastercut "The 10 Crack Commandments." One of Biggie's most memorable anthems was actually inspired by an article in the 1994 issue of The Source.
1. Kick in the Door: Houston-born super-producer DJ Premier once found himself smack dab in the middle of a head-butting contest between Biggie and Jeru tha Damaja. On one side was Primo's friend Jeru tha Damaja who took jabs at Biggie on the Primo-laced "Ya Playin' Yaself" and "One Day" On the other was Big, who retaliated on "Kick in the Door," also produced by Primo.
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When it came time to record "Kick in the Door," Sean "Puffy" Combs made unflattering remarks about the beat. "Puff didn't like it and told me that I ain't hitting it like I used to," Primo told XXL in a 2010 interview. "Big called me the next day and told me to come to the studio. I was like, 'Sure but I have to make a new beat first.' He goes, 'Nah, I want the one you did.'
"I said, 'Puff don't like it.' He said, 'Fuck Puff. I'm going to kill it.'