The Notorious B.I.G.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Biggie Smalls was dealing drugs by the time he was 12 and was constantly in trouble with the police. But he developed a rap act to perform on the streets, and his edgy, brutal rhymes and free-flowing delivery came to define the genre, representing East Coast hip hop in its bitter feud with its West Coast counterpart. Spotted by Sean "Puffy" Combs, he released his debut album Ready To Die in 1994; a hardcore autobiographical record in which he referred to himself as Frank White, a fictional drug baron in the 1990 movie King Of New York. The name Biggie Smalls was a reference to his intimidating height and size, but he amended it to The Notorious B.I.G. for recording purposes. His remix of Mary J. Blige's single Real Love, marriage to singer Faith Evans and debut hit single Juicy/Unbelievable won him more acclaim and by the end of 1995 he was America's best-selling rapper. However, this led to a war of words with his great West Coast rival Tupac Shakur, who was murdered in 1996. Six months later, shortly before the release of his second album Life After Death, Biggie was killed in a drive-by shooting.
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