How The Notorious B.I.G. Turned Fear and Rage Into Genius

September 12, 2014 5:20 PM

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Twenty years ago, Christopher George Latore Wallace -- also known as The Notorious B.I.G; Big Poppa; Biggie -- made an indelible mark on the landscape of popular music with the release of his debut album, "Ready to Die." Biggie created a tour de force that is considered by many to be one of the greatest albums of all time. The 17-song opus was constructed on the sobering veracity of being young, black and bred in an unforgiving environment. Nevertheless, the album was not without its buoyancy, as the singles "Juicy" and "Big Poppa" were sluiced in a soulful-pop receptivity that appealed to broader audiences. These singles were sunny diversions from Biggie's sonic obscurity, thanks to an array of symphonic production and the marketing gifts of Sean "Puffy" Combs. "Ready to Die" is a multifaceted masterpiece, but its driving force is Biggie's supplication for America to recognize a young black man wrought with the fear and rage of existing in a life rooted in continuing stagnation.

The terrors that Biggie expressed through song were not unconventional; he served as an ambassador for a generation who were lineal descendants of the crack era. Biggie and his contemporaries were exhausted of their vexatious confines and were willing to capture a piece of the American dream by any ...

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