Christopher George Latore Wallace (May 21, 1972 – March 9, 1997), better known by his stage names The Notorious B.I.G., Biggie, or Biggie Smalls, was an American rapper. He is ranked by Billboard magazine as among the ten greatest rappers of all time.
Wallace was raised in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. When he released his debut album Ready to Die in 1994, he became a central figure in the East Coast hip hop scene and increased New York City's visibility in the genre at a time when West Coast hip hop was dominant in the mainstream. The following year, Wallace led his childhood friends to chart success through his protégé group, Junior M.A.F.I.A. While recording his second album, Wallace was heavily involved in the growing East Coast–West Coast hip hop feud.
On March 9, 1997, Wallace was killed by an unknown assailant in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles. His double-disc album Life After Death, released 16 days later, rose to No. 1 on the U.S. album charts and was certified Diamond in 2000 by the Recording Industry Association of America, one of the few hip hop albums to receive this certification. Wallace was noted for his "loose, easy flow", dark semi-autobiographical lyrics and storytelling abilities, sometimes changing his pitch on songs. Three more albums have been released since his death. He has certified sales of 17 million units in the United States.
Wallace traveled to California in February 1997 to promote his upcoming album and record a music video for its lead single, "Hypnotize". On March 5, 1997 he gave a radio interview with The Dog House on KYLD in San Francisco. In the interview he stated that he had hired security since he feared for his safety; this was because he was a celebrity figure in general, not because he was a rapper. Life After Death was scheduled for release on March 25, 1997. On January 8, 1997, Biggie Smalls and Sean "Puffy" Combs made a video for the song "What's Beef", directed by Dave Meyers. On March 8, 1997, he presented an award to Toni Braxton at the 11th Annual Soul Train Music Awards in Los Angeles and was booed by some of the audience. After the ceremony, Wallace attended an after party hosted by Vibe magazine and Qwest Records at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Other guests included Faith Evans, Aaliyah, Sean Combs and members of the Bloods and Crips gangs.
On March 9, 1997, at 12:30 a.m. (PST), Wallace left with his entourage in two GMC Yukons to return to his hotel after the Fire Department closed the party early due to overcrowding. Wallace traveled in the front passenger seat alongside his associates, Damion "D-Roc" Butler, Junior M.A.F.I.A. member Lil' Cease and driver, Gregory "G-Money" Young. Combs traveled in the other vehicle with three bodyguards. The two trucks were trailed by a Chevrolet Blazer carrying Bad Boy's director of security.
By 12:45 a.m. (PST), the streets were crowded with people leaving the event. Wallace's truck stopped at a red light 50 yards (46 m) from the museum. A black Chevy Impala pulled up alongside Wallace's truck. The driver of the Impala, an African American male dressed in a blue suit and bow tie, rolled down his window, drew a 9 mm blue-steel pistol and fired at the GMC Suburban; four bullets hit Wallace in the chest. Wallace's entourage rushed him to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, but he was pronounced dead at 1:15 a.m. (PST)