23 Lyrical Tributes to Notorious B.I.G. on the 20th Anniversary of Rapper's Death
A slew of artists have paid tribute to Biggie, who died on March 9, 1997, at age 24, in their songs.
Twenty years ago today, on March 9, 1997, the world lost one of the greatest rappers of all time in The Notorious B.I.G. Though he died at the almost impossibly young age of 24, the MC who came live from Bedford-Stuyvesant left a lasting mark on the rap game with two iconic, landmark albums — his 1994 debut Ready to Die and his double-album follow-up, Life After Death, ironically released two weeks after his own death — as well as the crew project Conspiracy with his group Junior M.A.F.I.A.
Over the course of his short time in the spotlight, Biggie helped cement the careers of Puff Daddy, Craig Mack and Jay Z, shepherded the introduction of Lil Kim, Mase, The LOX and his wife, Faith Evans, and delivered on iconic collaborations with the likes of Method Man ("The What"), Bone Thugs-N-Harmony ("Notorious Thugs") and Jay ("Brooklyn's Finest"), along the way proving over and over again that he was one of rap's most vivid and dexterous storytellers.
So it's no surprise that, over the course of the 20 years since his untimely passing, Christopher Wallace's name pops up in dozens of rappers' lyrics, whether they're comparing themselves to one of the greatest to ever do it or shouting out a legend. Here, Billboard has compiled a list of songs by Big's collaborators and admirers alike, all of which pay tribute to the rap phenomenon himself.
"I'll Be Missing You," Puff Daddy feat. Faith Evans and 112
"Seems like yesterday we used to rock the show / I laced the track, you locked the flow / So far from hangin' on the block for dough / Notorious, they got to know / That life ain't always what it seem to be / Words can't express what you mean to me / Even though you're gone, we still a team / Through your family, I'll fulfill your dream"
"Letter to B.I.G.," Jadakiss feat. Faith Evans
"Dear Christopher Frank White Wallace / Yeah, it's your boy 'Kiss, I just want to holla / In your memory I keep the Coogi in my closet / Kangol on the rack, a fresh pair of Wallies"
"Meanwhile I'ma keep it so on my lil plans / And you might bump into a few of my lil mans / Up there steppin' with God / Down here, Mister Cee in BK is still reppin' you hard / T'yanna so pretty, CJ turned into lil Biggie / Just a little lighter but so witty / On your born day, we get the highest / Groovy still the best with the garments, he keep me the flyest"
"Doing It Way Big," Lil Kim
"Anything we do we do it B.I.G. / Every move we make is always B.I.G. / And the No. 1 rule, think B.I.G. / And the best rapper's still B.I.G."
"Too Soon," Joell Ortiz
"I remember how I felt when your tape dropped / Like how the hell I can't find a song that ain't hot? / Strong voice, your delivery is unmatched / Your metaphors made it sure that you run rap / Gucci sweater with the Kangol hats / When you was clubbin' lumberjack with the hat to match / When you was thuggin', to this day I listen back to your tracks"
"Brooklyn's Own," Joey Bada$$
"Look at all the lives that we lost 'cause we fear love / To the unknown and Biggie's dream getting teared up"
"We'll Always Love Big Poppa," The LOX
Styles P: "Frank White lyrically, moved n—as spiritually / Made you wanna get a cup, fill it up with Hennessy / Front in the club and light a dutch where the women be / If you seen the show then I know you felt the energy"
Jadakiss: "It make me look back to where he took rap / Dude brought the East back, y'all better believe that / He never had a warning, one more chance"
Sheek Louch: "Nearly broke down four times writin' this verse / Filled with wild madness and sadness, it hurts / But ain't no need to cry, 'cause right now where you at / Is more laced than any place a millionaire lived at"
"Second Round K.O.," Canibus
"That shit was the worst rhyme I ever heard in my life / ‘Cause the greatest rapper of all time died on March 9th / God bless his soul, rest in peace, kid / It's because of him now at least I know what beef is"
"The City Is Mine," Jay Z feat. Blackstreet
"I'm the focal, point like Biggie in his prime / On the low, though, shh, the city is mine"
"B.K. Anthem, "Foxy Brown
"I grew up in the thoroughest borough, B.K. / Where B.I.G. had everybody rockin D.K."
"What More Can I Say," Jay Z
"I'm not a biter, I'm a writer for myself and others / I say a B.I.G. verse, I'm only bigging up my brother / Bigging up my borough, I'm big enough to do it / I'm that thorough, plus I know my own flow is foolish"
"Non-Fiction," Rapsody feat. Ab-Soul and Raheem DeVaughn
"Rap back like the NATO, connect with gods / 'Cause my odds of being large weighed out like Chris / Yo, Biggie the goal, I'm really the mold / Of what you really want to be if you hadn't of sold"
"Till I Collapse," Eminem feat. Nate Dogg
"I'm at the end of my wits with half the sh-t that gets in / I got a list, here's the order of my list that it's in / It goes Reggie, Jay Z, 2Pac and Biggie / André from OutKast, Jada, Kurupt, Nas and then me"
"Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)," Jay Z
"Let's stick up the world and split it 50-50 / Let's take the dough and stay real jiggy / And sip the Cris' and get pissy-pissy / Flow infinitely like the memory of my n—a Biggie"
"My Life," The Game feat. Lil Wayne
"Suicide, I'm from a windy city like Do or Die / From a block close to where Biggie was crucified / That was Brooklyn's Jesus shot for no f—in' reason / And you wonder why Kanye wears Jesus pieces?"
"I am the dragon, Maserati / Pumpin’ Biggie, the great legend, blastin' / I’m after the actress who played Faith Evans"
"Size 'Em Up," Big L
"A lot of cats be frontin,' mad singles with a $50 on top / L tryna have the city on lock / Peace to Biggie and 'Pac 'cause they really were hot / Rap game heavy hitters, it's a shame they no longer with us"
"Worst Enemy," Gucci Mane
"First 2Pac died then Biggie died and that greatly impacted me / Then history repeated itself through me and I make history"
"Evil Twin," Eminem
"Flipped rap on its ear like I dropped corn / F— top five, bitch, I'm top four / And that includes Biggie and 'Pac, whore / And I got an evil twin, so who the f— do you think that third and that fourth spot's for?"
"Golden Era," PRhyme feat. Joey Bada$$
Joey Bada$$: "I'm too real and too gritty, I feel / Ready to kill, ready to die / R.I.P to Biggie, rep BK, Bed-Stuy / Bring your honey to this beehive"
"Rare Portraits," Talib Kweli
"What's up Alyasha / This is OG Brooklyn sh-t, not for impostors / Pour out a shot of vodka for them / Big L, Big Poppa, Big Pun, 2Pac"
"The Glory," Kanye West
"I hear people compare themselves to big a lot / You know B.I.G. and 'Pac, you know to get it hot / I guess after I live I wanna be compared to B.I.G / Any one: Big Pun, Big L or Notorious"
"Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See," Busta Rhymes
"Oh shit, my whole clique victorious / Taking no prisoners n—as is straight up warriors / While you feeling that I know you be feeling so glorious / Then I blitz and reminisce on my n—a Notorious"
"Last of a Dying Breed," Jeezy feat. Young Buck, Trick Daddy and Ill Will
"I'm from even where the dead die / But tryna do it Big like that kid from Bed-Stuy"
This story first appeared on Billboard.com. Click here to see my lyrical tributes to Notorious B.I.G.