Rapper was gunned down in LA 15 years ago today (March 9)
The hip-hop star, whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was shot and killed in Los Angeles on March 9 in 1997 aged 24. The murder case is still unsolved – as is that of his fellow rapper Tupcac Shakur, who was gunned down in Las Vegas six months previously in September 1996.
Professor Green paid his respects to Smalls, writing on his Twitter:
The greatest rapper of all time died on March 9th. RIP BIG.
His message was later retweeted by Example, while US basketball player LeBron James, emcee Mia X, The View‘s Kyle Falconer and streaming service Spotify also paid tribute on the social networking site.
Wallace was born on May 21, 1972 and grew up in Brooklyn. He released his debut album ‘Ready To Die’ in 1994 after coming to the attention of Sean Combs, aka P Diddy, and married singer Faith Evans in 1995.
For much of his career, he was involved in a prominent feud with rapper Tupac Shakur after his one-time friend accused Smalls and Combs of being involved in an incident in which he was shot and robbed in November 1994. The pair’s bad blood continued throughout the East Coast/West Coast hip-hop feud of the mid ’90s, encompassing Shakur’s memorable 1996 diss track ‘Hit ‘Em Up’, in which he insinuated he’d been sexually involved with Evans who, at that point, was estranged from Wallace.
Several rumours suggested that Wallace was involved in the death of Shakur in September 1996, but the rapper denied the claims and they were never substantiated. Wallace was then murdered himself in the early hours of March 1997 after a party in LA. There have been several theories put forward about his death, including suggestions that his murder was a retaliation for Shakur’s killing, but both cases remain unsolved.
Smalls’ second album, ‘Life After Death’, was released shortly after he was killed and claimed the Number One spot in the US album charts. Since then, he has released two posthumous albums, 1999’s ‘Born Again’ and 2005’s ‘Duets: The Final Chapter’, while a biopic of his life, Notorious, was released in 2009.