The late, great Notorious B.I.G. would’ve turned 41 on May 21 this year. His tragic death and infamous feud with fellow slain hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur sometimes overshadowed the greatness of his lyrical talents. No rapper has ever displayed the same combination of introspection, knack for vivid detail and macabre sense of humor as Biggie Smalls.
While he was known as “The King of New York” and often referred to himself as “Frank White” in homage to Christopher Walken’s notorious Big Apple kingpin from the movie of the same name, the most appropriate Biggie pseudonym is “Rap Alfred Hitchcock.” His storytelling and clarity of vision were the musical equivalent of the legendary filmmaker’s lens. He used both effortlessly and remarkably.
In celebration of Christopher Wallace’s birthday, here are 10 of his greatest lyrical performances.