Twenty years ago today on September 13, 1994, the Notorious B.I.G. officially made his mark on music when he dropped his classic debut Ready To Die.
The LP blended rugged street tracks with smoothed-out crossover radio hits like "Juicy" and "Big Poppa." More than just a timeless project, Ready To Die birthed one of the greatest MCS of all-time. To celebrate we gathered 20 facts that you may not have known about the late and great Notorious B.I.G.
1. The Notorious B.I.G. Wasn't His First Rap Name
Before he became the Notorious B.I.G., the Brooklyn MC went by the name Biggie Smalls. The moniker was taken from Calvin Lockhart's character in Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier's 1975 film "Let's Do It Again." The rapper eventually changed his name to avoid legal complications.
2. Biggie And 2Pac Worked Together Before The Beef
Though their friendship eventual soured, B.I.G. and 'Pac were frequent collaborators. They worked together a few times like that time they got together on producer Eddie F.'s 1994 track "Let's Get It On" with Heavy D. and Grand Puba.
3. Big Didn't Write His Rhymes Down
The Ready to Die MC amazed his in-studio collaborators because he would compose his lyrics in his head, without pen or paper.
4. Diddy Discovered Big In The Source Magazine
Back in the day, landing in The Source's Unsigned Hype column was all a rapper needed to get his career started. After meeting with magazine editor Matty C. and seeing B.I.G. in the magazine Diddy was convinced that he was the future of rap.
5. "Kick In The Door" Was A Nas Dis Song
Biggie was a detailed wordsmith, but knew when to hold back. On "Kick in the Door" from his Life After Death album he threw a few shots at Nas (and Jeru the Damaja), though he never said names. God's Son would later confirm the sneak dis on "Last Real N---a Alive."
6. "Who Shot Ya?" Wasn't A 2Pac Dis
Yes, Tupac claimed Biggie set him up in the now-infamous 1994 Quad Studio shooting, so it would seem that Big's "Who Shot Ya" is a direct response, right? Well, not exactly. Through the years, Big and all those close to him have maintained that the classic track was not a 'Pac dis.
7. Big Secretly Married With Label Mate Faith Evans
The heart wants what the heart wants. After a whirlwind romance Big wed his Bad Boy label mate Faith Evans in August 1994. Diddy had no clue.
8. Big's Son CJ Played Him In 'Notorious'
Christopher Wallace, Jr. was only a few months old when his father was tragically gunned down, but the youngster would've made his dad proud playing the role of a young B.I.G. in the 2009 biopic "Notorious." He then went on to star alongside Will Ferrell in 2011's "Everything Must Go."
9. Bad Boy Wasn't The First Label to Sign B.I.G.
Before Diddy started Bad Boy he was a young exec at Uptown Records working on projects with Jodeci and Mary J. Blige. He then went on to sign Big and it was on Uptown where he dropped his first single "Party and Bullsh--."
10. Biggie Went To High School With Jay Z And Busta Rhymes
We're sure that George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School in Brooklyn, New York produced some great alumni, but for three of the greatest rappers ever to all attend the school at the same time is just mind-blowing.
11. Michael Jackson Called Big Poppa For A Verse
The King of Pop didn't work with a ton of rappers, but knew enough to tap the Notorious B.I.G. for his 1995 track "This Time Around."
12. Big Recorded A Song With Shaq Too, And It Was Good
Shaquille O'Neal was hit or miss with his rap career, but when he teamed with Big he scored big time. "You Can't Stop the Reign" was one of the more memorable features that Biggie has done throughout his career.
13. Biggie Recorded On Bad Boy But Headed His Own Label Too
Yes, Big was an artist on Diddy's Bad Boy Entertainment, but he started his own label Undeas, with his friend Lance Rivera back in 1993. Together they signed artists like Junior Mafia, Cam'ron and Charli Baltimore.
14. Biggie Would Battle On The Street Before He Made His First Record
The Notorious B.I.G. earned his rep on the street before he earned his rep on Billboard. When he was 17, Biggie battled Brooklyn street rapper Preem around the corner from his home on Fulton Street.
15. Big Once Ate Dinner At Sway's Grandmother's House
MTV News correspondent Sway Calloway has interviewed all of the greats and has developed some amazing relationships along the way. He has a ton of stories, like the time Biggie had dinner at his grandmother's house.
16. Ready To Die Got 4.5 Mics In The Source
Though Ready to Die is a now recognized as a classic, the original Source review rated it with 4.5 mics, leaving it just half-a-mic short of a perfect rating.
17. A Car Accident Caused Big To Walk With A Cane
While driving with his Junior Mafia protege Lil' Cease, the two got into a car accident that forced Big to walk with the cane that he uses in his 1997 video for "Hypnotize."
18. Big Once Recorded A Pepsi Commercial
Before Beyonce, Big was positioning himself to be a pitchman for Pepsi. He recorded this rhyme praising the popular soft drink, but it ultimately was left on the cutting room floor.
19. He Also Did A St. Ides Commercial
Biggie may have been too street for Pepsi, but he did drop a popular ad for the malt liquor company St. Ides.
20. Big Planned To Drop Life After Death On Halloween In 1996
Big's second LP Life After Death dropped on March 25, 1997, two weeks after he was murdered. Originally, he had hopped that it drop on October 31, 1996.