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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: A Tale of Two Biggies (Biggie Smalls Vs. Biggy Smallz)

Posted by Billyjam, August 19, 2014 09:43am | Post a Comment
The tale of two Biggies is the tale of two rappers with the same name, and with one of them having to change his rap name. It dates to back to the early to mid 1990's when legendary Brooklyn rapper Biggie Smalls of Puff Daddy's Bad Boy Records fame first arrived on the scene to some confusion among hip-hop fans at the time who were familiar with the other existing rapper named Biggy Smallz who was Thug Life and 2Pac affiliated. That Biggy started out a bit earlier in his rap career, beginning in 1991 at a young age.

Both rappers had drawn inspiration for their names from the 1975 movie Let's Do It Again and its character Biggie Smalls that was played by Calvin Lockhart. So by the time the Biggie born Christopher Wallace arrived on the rap map the other Biggy Smallz was already out there releasing hip-hop singles including 1993's "Cruisin" which, like 1994's "Nobody Rides For Free," was also produced by Johnny "J" who was also producing for 2Pac - an affiliation that he is best known for.  Reportedly it was Tupac Shakur who asked Christopher Wallace to change his name from Biggie Smalls to avoid confusion with his Thug Life buddy Biggy. Hence Christopher Wallace officially became The Notorious B.I.G. before releasing his major label debut. Although since some have suggested that it was not Pac's request for the name change but rather fear of legal copyright infringement from the producers of the Let's Do It Again movie that was the real reason for Wallace changing his name. 

Even though The Notorious B.I.G. was the name it said on his September 1994 debut album cover Ready to Die people still thought of him as Biggie Smalls.  And ultimately, through his hugely successful career, The Notorious B.I.G. Biggie totally eclipsed the other mostly forgotten Biggy in the hip-hop history books. And yesterday when I stumbled upon those two Biggy Smallz singles was reminded of how musically mediocre he was in comparison to the B.I.G. Beyond all of that, what is really eerie about this tale is that each of the parties are all long dead. As well as 2Pac both Biggies are too long deceased -  with Biggy Smallz reportedly dying in late 94 although I have been unable to confirm the cause of his death. Another interesting point about this tale of the two Biggies is that it was Biggy Smallz not Biggie Smalls that 2Pac shouted out in the song “God Bless the Dead” (2Pac Greatest Hits, 1998) by intro'ing the song saying "Rest in peace to my motherfucker Biggy Smallz." Naturally knowing how Pac and Biggie were famously feuding this led to further confusion, and also conspiracy further fueled by the fact that the song was recorded in late 1994 - two and a half years before The Notorious B.I.G. was killed.

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Hip Hop (93), Billy Jam (40), Hip-hop History (63), Hip-hop History Tuesdays (44), Hip-hop History Amoeblog (33), Rap (134), 2pac (36), Biggy Smallz (1), Biggie Smalls (3)