On what would have been his 50th birthday, The Notorious BIG will be crowned with a title his fans always knew he held: King of New York.
In honor of the legendary rapper, born Christopher Wallace, the Empire State Building will light up in red and white, with an illuminated wreath spinning around its center on May 21. In Brooklyn, the entrance to the Barclays Center will display a video montage of some of Wallace’s records, and the MTA will release three special-edition MetroCards featuring Biggie Smalls, which will be available at three subway stations near his former neighborhood of Bedford. -Stuyvesant.
The night before, May 20, members of Wallace’s family, close friends and collaborators — including Lil’ Cease and Lil Kim — will attend a ceremony honoring the late rapper, who was murdered on March 9, 1997.
At just 24, Wallace was returning home after attending Vibe magazine’s Soul Train Awards after-party in Los Angeles when his driver stopped at a red light and a gunman in another car opened fire, shooting the rapper four times. His murder came just six months after West Coast rival Tupac Shakur was killed in Las Vegas.
Although there has been speculation that Wallace’s death was orchestrated in part by Death Row Records founder Marion “Suge” Knight following the death of her artist Shakur, none of the murders of the men has been resolved.
Wallace’s death came just two weeks before his second and final album Life after death came out, which would go on to receive a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album, as well as nods for “Hypnotize” and “Mo Money Mo Problems” for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. In commemoration of the album’s 25th anniversary, Bad Boy Records, Atlantic Records and Rhino Records will release a special vinyl edition of Life after death June 10.