Happy would-be 47th birthday, Biggie!

On May 21, 1972, Voletta Wallace gave birth to Christopher George Latore Wallace, the future Hip-Hop icon that we’d all go on to know and love by many aka’s — The Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls, Biggie or the undisputed King of New York are usually thrown around most frequently.

On what would’ve been his 47th birthday today, it’s not hard to imagine all the things the Brooklyn-born MC would’ve achieved had his life not been ended just two-and-a-half months short of his 25th birthday. However, what he was able to accomplish in just 24 years will always be considered astounding to say the least. Two multiplatinum albums — the latter, Life After Death, even went on to achieve Diamond certification — managing a successful crew of MCs with Junior M.A.F.I.A., jumpstarting the career of a pioneering female rap solo star with Lil’ Kim, making Bad Boy the Hip-Hop record label of the ’90s alongside Puff Daddy and ultimately putting on Brooklyn in a way that still resonates from Canarsie to his beginnings in Bed-Stuy.

Biggie had an amazing relationship with The Source during his lifetime, from that notorious shoutout on “Juicy” to appearing on our cover twice before he died and multiple times in the years that followed. Today we look back on our old pal B.I.G., who by now would’ve for sure been sitting comfortably on the throne as a Hip-Hop king alongside guys like Jay-Z, Nas and Dr. Dre to name a few.

Take a look at all the times The Notorious B.I.G. was “up in” The Source. We’re sure Ms. Wallace is still smiling:


Original “The Last Word” artwork by Andre LeRoy Davis for Biggie’s first cover of The Source (Issue #70; July ’95).


JULY 1995 – The Notorious B.I.G. lands his first cover of The Source and is officially deemed “The King of New York”

Looking larger than life and standing in-between the Twin Towers, making for a photo that has now become an eerie coincidence, Biggie was at the top of his game when this cover dropped in summer 1995. The “Young, Rich & Deadly” story was helmed by OG Source writer Bönz Malone with imagery spearheaded by equally legendary photographer Chi Modu, and it’s still an extremely proud moment for us as a brand and Hip-Hop culture in general.


The Source Issue #70 (July 1995)


APRIL 1997 – The Notorious B.I.G. lands his last cover of The Source while alive

Jeff “Chairman” Mao got one of the last interviews with Biggie before he was killed on March 9, 1997, making this cover story both a profound piece of rap history and a somber memory as well. The story focused on his place at the top of the rap world after helping to bring Hip-Hop mainstream, which at the time was both a gift and curse. Many felt that although he was giving the genre some well-deserved attention on a mass level, it still was at the expense of abandoning that core street element. Life After Death was going to be his answer to the haters by proving he could do it all, commercial and hood hits alike, and we just wish he’d lived to see it all come to fruition.


The Source Issue #91 (April 1997)


MAY 1997 – The Notorious B.I.G. covers The Source again, this time way more bittersweet.

Tribute covers will never truly be something to celebrate. Sure, paying homage and giving a recently-deceased person the attention they deserve is beautiful in its intentions, but it honestly just shouldn’t have gone down this way. From a well-deserved Five Mics review for Life After Death to an unforgettable Hip-Hop Quotable from “Kick In The Door,” the whole issue was in honor of a guy who was supposed to be our future. This one will forever be a sore spot for our staff and the Hip-Hop community overall.


The Source Issue #92 (May 1997)


JANUARY 2006 – The Notorious B.I.G. continues to lives on.

Anytime you start a new year, reflections of the past will always come rushing back. To jumpstart that year, we gave the cover to Biggie and three other rap icons we’d lost at that point, including 2Pac, Eazy-E and Big Pun. Stylized in the form of stained glass figures, each man paved a way for rap to become the juggernaut that it grew into by 2006. A fitting tribute, for sure.


The Source Issue #195 (January 2006)


FEBRUARY 2007 – Biggie’s presence is still felt 10 years after his passing for a special Collectors Edition Issue.

After losing this icon a full decade prior, The Source felt necessary to give him the ultimate honor with a full tribute issue dedicated to his memory and contributions to rap. Even though it’s been an additional 10 years or so since this issue dropped, the feeling remains the same: we’ll always love Big Poppa.


The Source Issue #207 (February 2007)


DECEMBER 2008 – Biggie’s life story hits the B.I.G. screen in our special Notorious biopic issue.

Biggie had become such an icon to the world by this point, even surpassing the realms of rap, that his life story was long overdue for a biographical film. Notorious was released by Fox Searchlight Pictures in January 2009, and this special Collectors Issue was there to editorialize the story with background info to the stories told throughout the film. Give this movie a watch today to see why his memory, just like he raps on “Nasty Boy,” goes on and on and on and…


The Source Issue #228 (December 2008)


Happy would-be birthday B.I.G.! Let us know what track you guys are spinning by hitting us on Facebook and Twitter!