Notorious B.I.G. Murdered; Dead At 24

Victim of a drive-by.

In a scenario that is becoming disturbingly familiar, a platinum-selling

gangsta rapper was gunned down early Sunday morning (March 9). The Notorious

B.I.G., aka Biggie Smalls (Christopher Wallace), was shot and killed in a

gangland-style drive-by shooting a little after midnight as he was leaving a

Vibe-magazine-sponsored party at the Petersen Automotive Museum in celebration

of the 11th annual Soul Train Music Awards staged on Friday night in Los

Angeles.

The parked car the rapper was sitting in, a GMC Suburban, was

reportedly sprayed with at least five bullets by still-unnamed assailants

riding in what police described as a white car. No arrests were made at the

time of the shooting.

The rapper was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

in the same car and pronounced dead a short time later. A witness told

reporters he heard people screaming and saw the passengers of a dark green

vehicle, which was reportedly driving erratically just before the shooting,

jump out and jump back in before speeding away.

Wallace, 24, was a

Brooklyn-based rapper who "kept it real" by rapping about his former life as a

small-time crack dealer on the streets of Brooklyn's hard-scrabble

Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. His million-selling 1994 debut, Ready to

Die, and his 1995 Billboard Rapper of the Year Award established him as a

new leader of the New York rap school and his association with producer Sean

"Puffy" Combs and his Bad Boy label embroiled the rapper in what many later

called a simple hype war between the East and West Coast rap

establishments...



Wallace had a strange set of connections to the other

recent high-profile killing of a rap star, Tupac Shakur's drive-by death in Las

Vegas in September of 1996. The rappers were bitter enemies in life and Shakur

suggested on more than one occasion that Wallace and his crew were behind a

1994 robbery in which Shakur was shot several times and robbed of $40,000 in

jewelry in the lobby of a Manhattan recording studio, a charge Wallace

denied.

The rapper had a history of run-ins with the law, including an arrest

last summer for alleged weapons and marijuana possession, a June 1995

arrest for allegedly robbing a man and breaking his jaw and a March 1995

arrest for allegedly using a baseball bat to discourage aggressive

autograph seekers. Like Shakur at the time of his death, Wallace claimed

to be in the midst of turning over a new leaf after realizing

the error of his thug-life ways.

In an

article in today's (March 10) L.A. Times, writer Cheo Hodari Coker

writes of hanging with Wallace after the awards show on Friday night and seeing

the new tattoo on the 6-3, 380-pound rapper's forearm. It was a quotation for

"Psalm 27" that read:

"The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I

fear? The Lord is the truth of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? When the

wicked, even my enemies and foes, came upon me to bite my flesh, they stumbled

and fell . . ."

Coker wrote that when asked about Shakur's violent death on

Friday night, he was philosophical about the inherent dangers of living the

gangsta-rap life chronicled in his songs. "When you start making a whole lot of

money and you start living too fast, it's up to you to slow yourself down. You

can't be getting drunk, smoking two or three ounces of weed a day, and [having

sex] with all these different females. Something's bound to happen.

"I was

living like that for a second, but I had that car accident," Wallace said,

referring to a September 13, 1996 crash on the New Jersey turnpike in which his

left leg was broken in three places. "I was in the hospital for two and three

months and it gave me a lot of time to think about my life and where it was

headed. I said to myself, 'B.I.G., you're moving too fast. When you get back on

your feet, it's time for this [expletive] to change.' "

Wallace went on to

say that he was going to avoid those kinds of obstacle and use his talents and

"follow the righteous road." His sophomore album, Life After Death is

slated for release on March 25 and the first single, "Hypnotized," has already

been shipped to radio.