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Notorious B. I. G.  

Robert Farrell

hip-hop artist and performer. Born Christopher George Latore Wallace, the Notorious B.I.G. released only two full-length albums during his lifetime. His work under the names “Biggie Smalls” and “Notorious B.I.G.,” guided by the producer Sean Combs, had a lasting stylistic influence on late-twentieth- and early-twenty-first-century rap music. With the aid of Combs's shrewd executive productions and canny sense for hit making, Wallace's recordings blended street-level gangsta raps with a pop sensibility, a formula similar to that of the West Coast rappers Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg.

The son of a Jamaican immigrant, Volleta Wallace, and a Jamaican father, George Letore Wallace was born and raised in Brooklyn New York His parents soon separated leaving Wallace to be raised by his mother in the Clinton Hill Bedford Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn Wallace was doted on by his mother who after attaining her GED went on to ...


Notorious B. I. G. (“Biggie Smalls”)  

Andrew Du Bois

Notorious B.I.G. was born Christopher Wallace in New York City. His debut album, Ready to Die, appeared on Sean “P. Diddy” Combs's Bad Boy Entertainment music label in 1995. The record was a critical and commercial success, exhibiting the rapper's lyrical talents through a series of taut, first-person narratives chronicling life as a hustler on the streets of New York's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. The grim humor of B.I.G.'s lyrics emphasized the claustrophobia of his ghetto universe. On “Warning,” he raps, “There's gonna be a lot of slow singing / and flower bringing / If my burglar alarm starts ringing.” Songs like “Suicidal Thoughts” and “Things Done Changed” helped create one of “gangsta rap's” most sophisticated personas, a strange brew of subdued self-loathing and energetic violence. In B.I.G.'s world, the sexual boasting typical of Rap and Hip-Hop became an occasion for self parody as on Me Interlude ...


Shakur, Tupac  

Alonford James Robinson

Tupac Shakur was one of the most influential and controversial voices to emerge from Hip-Hop's much maligned club of so-called gangster rappers. Criticized for their violent lyrics and misogynistic claims, gangster rappers became symbols of the best and worst of American musical creativity. Over a six-year period in the early 1990s Shakur became the voice for a generation of young, often frustrated, African Americans.

Through his music and his life Shakur embodied many of the harsh realities of ghetto life His raps addressed the difficulties of being young black and poor in the United States and as a promising actor he captured those realities on the screen True to the thuggish lifestyle that he rapped about Shakur was arrested and served time in jail on more than one occasion and often foreshadowed his own death in his songs and videos Shakur s predictions of his violent death came true ...


Shakur, Tupac  

Akil Houston

rapper, actor, poet, and activist. Born Lesane Parish Crooks in East Harlem, New York, Tupac Amaru Shakur was the son of Afeni Shakur (born Alice Faye Williams), a Black Panther acquitted of a hundred counts of conspiracy against the government a month before Tupac's birth, and William Garland. His mother initially gave him his name Crooks to obscure his connection to her, but she changed it to Tupac Amaru Shakur a few months later, after her marriage to Mutulu Shakur. Tupac's godparents were the well-known Black Panthers Assata Shakur and Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt. With his family so active in the Black Panther Party, Tupac was surrounded by a political atmosphere in which he developed a sense of awareness and self-expression. In 1984 his family moved to Baltimore where Shakur enrolled at the Baltimore School for the Arts there he studied drama ballet and dance and ...


Shakur, Tupac Amaru  

Marcyliena Morgan

rapper, was born Lesane Parish Crooks in New York City to Afeni Shakur (born Alice Faye Williams), a Black Panther, and Billy Garland, who had very little contact with his son. Tupac was named after the last Inca chief, Tupac Amaru—Tupac meaning “he who shines” and Amaru meaning “large serpent,” often translated as “shining serpent”; Shakur is Arabic for “thankful to God.” Raised by their mother, with some help from their stepfather, Jeral Wayne Williams (also known as Mutulu Shakur), Tupac and his sister, Sekyiwa, had to learn to cope with their mother's drug addiction, abandonment by their father, and scrutiny from law enforcement. The family was often destitute and moved numerous times throughout Tupac's childhood.

Although Shakur s family life was often in disarray his mother encouraged him to develop his interests in the arts and he continued his creative arts education even ...