In 1997, the world mourned the loss of one of the great rapping legends, Christopher Wallace, more widely known by his stage names of “Biggie Smalls” or “the Notorious B.I.G.” at the young age of 24. This year, Biggie would have turned 50 on May 21st, and both the city of New York and his estate are “commemorating his birthday in a big way.”
On Friday, a ceremony will be held at the Empire State Building, and will be attended by his mother, Voletta Wallace, and children, Tyanna and CJ Wallace, along with other collaborators and friends including Lil Cease and Lil Kim. On the following day, the iconic building will have a spinning crown on the mast with the lights changed to white and red.
Also, the Barclay Center in Brooklyn is going to “feature a video montage of him on the sprawling oculus display above the” entrance of the venue.
Even NYC MTA is joining the celebrations, and on his actual birthday, if you venture out to one of these three subway stations, Atlantic Ave.-Barclays Center, Lafayette Ave., and Clinton-Washington Ave, near Biggie’s old Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood, you can snag limited edition MetroCards featuring his likeness.
At the Clinton-Washington Ave. station, art based on the classic Barron Claiborne photo, “King of New York” which depicts Biggie in the crown, will be featured, and if you scan a QR code, you’ll be granted “access to an Instagram filter about his life and legacy,” which some anticipate being “similar, perhaps, to the David Bowie-themed Broadway-Lafayette takeover in 2018.”
Each of the five boroughs will have murals of the rapper, painted by local artists, thanks in part to Amazon and the Beautify Earth movement nonprofit.
The city is continuing the celebrations into Black Music Month in June, and the Lincoln Center is hosting an orchestral tribute, which will be free to the public and available for livestream via the Twitch Channel on Amazon Music.
Fans will also be in for another treat on June 10th, when Bad Boy/Atlantic/Rhino Records releases “a vinyl version of Biggie’s diamond-certified Life After Death album. The Life After Death 25th Anniversary Super Deluxe box set consists of 8-LPs, a booklet with rare photos from the album cover shoot, liner notes by Sheldon Pearce, and exclusive reflections from members of the team who worked on the original album.” In addition, “upgraded versions of his video collection posted on his official YouTube channel.”
Biggie has also been transformed into action figures, with choices available in three different options, Funko Pop! Album, ReAction Figure, and Funko Vinyl Gold, and these are available for purchase at the Brooklyn Vegan store.
Moreover, The Christopher Wallace Estate, is launching “an official Biggie NFT [non-fungible token] collection” in partnership “with OneOf, a Web3 company with the support of music mogul Quincy Jones,” and some of the proceed’s portions “will be donated to The Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation.”
Voletta is thrilled about the celebrations, stating “We are excited about our partnership with OneOf and their expertise to memorialize my son Christopher with this first official NFT drop to give his fans an opportunity to participate in and honor their love of him and his music.”
OneOf’s Co-Founder and COO, Josh James released a statement, “We’re honored to work with The Christopher Wallace Estate to celebrate the incredible legacy of Biggie Smalls…Using NFT technology, Biggie’s legacy and his outsized impact on music and culture will be forever cemented on blockchain, to be honored and shared with fans around the world and for generations to come.”