Entertainment & Arts

Two decades after his death, Notorious B.I.G. remembered as a storyteller, a dreamer and a son of Brooklyn

The Notorious B.I.G.
The Notorious B.I.G. in his L.A. hotel room on Feb.25, 1997. He was killed 10 days later.
(Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times)

On the 20th anniversary of the Notorious B.I.G.’s death, Sean “Diddy” Combs led a remembrance on social media in the form of two videos describing the artists’ first meeting — one that resulted in Biggie, a.k.a. Christopher Wallace, being signed to Bad Boy Records, which released B.I.G.’s debut album, “Ready to Die.”

“First thing I could remember was how big and black he was,” Diddy said, recalling their sit-down at a soul food place. He’d seen a picture of Biggie, he said, “but in person this guy is really a big guy ... and he's really, really, really dark-skinned. … This is during a time when ... dark skin wasn't in.”

FLASHBACK: See the L.A. Times’ front page the day after B.I.G. was killed

Combs was surprised that B.I.G. wasn’t interested in ordering food at a restaurant Diddy described as some people’s only reason to go to New York. That, the Bad Boy founder said, was when he realized, “This was really his dream — he couldn't even eat.”

Faith Evans, Biggie’s widow, said on “The Breakfast Club” morning radio show Thursday that she hasn't been able to find closure since her husband’s 1997 murder — the criminal case hasn’t been solved — but has decided to “move on and live with the great memories of B.I.G. that we have.” (See how The Times covered the story here.)

On social media, Evans was heavily promoting her upcoming album, “The King & I,” which features duets by her and Biggie. (She told “The Breakfast Club” the project was originally supposed to come out last year.)

Elsewhere on social media, “Hamilton” mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda explained B.I.G.’s role in his smash Broadway show, and Nas, Cypress Hill, Busta Rhymes and La La Anthony marked the day.

Missy Elliott got specific about why Biggie was different, Maxwell shared how he had learned of the rapper’s death and the Roots’ Questlove announced special plans for a tribute Thursday night at New York’s Brooklyn Bowl.

The New York Nets, who call Brooklyn home, will honor their native son on Sunday during their game against the New York Knicks at Barclays Center, the local NBC affiliate reported. The rapper’s kids and his mom, Voletta Wallace, will be there; a pop-up shop will feature Biggie-themed merchandise and his music will be played throughout the evening.

The Nets also plan to renovate the gym at the Brooklyn middle school attended by a young Chris Wallace.

Finally, the Notorious B.I.G. got a New York City-style shout-out in Times Square.