The Notorious B.I.G. killed in drive-by shooting
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The stickers on the Notorious B.I.G.’s bullet-riddled Suburban read ``Think B.I.G. March 25, 1997″ _ a promotion for his upcoming album ``Life After Death... ’Til Death Do Us Part″ and a presage to the rapper’s demise.
The Notorious B.I.G., who went from a Brooklyn crack dealer to a platinum-selling gangsta rapper, was killed Sunday outside a party celebrating the 11th annual Soul Train Music Awards.
The 24-year-old rap star, whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was gunned down while sitting in his parked GMC Suburban. He was rushed in the same sports utility vehicle to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Wallace, also known as Biggie Smalls, was the second major rap star to die in a drive-by shooting in less than a year. Tupac Shakur was killed in Las Vegas in September.
The party was sponsored by VIBE magazine and attended by its founder Quincy Jones, publicist Arnold Robinson confirmed. Jones did not immediately return calls Sunday, but Robinson said the well-known composer and producer was stunned by Wallace’s death.
Wallace’s estranged wife, Faith Evans, and dozens of party-goers, security guards and parking attendants witnessed the shooting. But authorities said late Sunday they had no description of the gunman and that witnesses were afraid to talk to police.
``It’s frustrating,″ said Detective Raymond Futami, one of almost a dozen investigators assigned to the case. `` I’m sure there’s a little bit of an intimidation factor ... because of the reputation of some of the people who are involved in this case.″
Wallace built his gangsta rap persona around authenticity, making much of his past as a crack cocaine dealer in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, one of New York City’s toughest neighborhoods.
The 6-foot, 300-pounds-plus rapper worked with Bad Boy Entertainment, run by East Coast producer Sean ``Puffy″ Combs. His ``Ready to Die″ debut recording went platinum.
``We are overwhelmed with grief by the death of a great artist, a family member and our friend, the Notorious B.I.G.,″ a company release said.
The shooting came six months after Shakur was shot in a Sept. 7 drive-by attack in Las Vegas as he rode in a car with Death Row Records president Marion ``Suge″ Knight. Shakur died six days later.
Wallace was considered a Shakur rival. Shakur once accused him of involvement in a 1994 robbery when Shakur was shot several times and lost $40,000 in jewelry.
Wallace, who denied any involvement, was absent from a high-profile ``rap summit″ in Harlem last fall called to ease tensions between West Coast and East Coast rappers after Shakur’s slaying.
Terri Baker, Wallace’s entertainment lawyer, would not comment on speculation about rivalry among rap groups.
``I don’t understand why everyone is focusing on the negative. The man was the most loyal, sweetest person, with a gigantic heart, full of love for people,″ Baker said.
Wallace most recently lived in Teaneck, N.J., in a gated community where most residents were reluctant to comment on his death.
The rapper had brushes with the law in both New Jersey and New York, including an arrest in Teaneck last summer for alleged weapons and marijuana possession. Neighbors had complained about continuous traffic at the house.
He was arrested in June 1995 for allegedly robbing a man and breaking his jaw in Camden, N.J. In March 1995, he was arrested in New York after allegedly using a baseball bat to deter autograph seekers.
Wallace was honored as rap artist of the year at the Billboard Awards in 1995 and was cited for rap single of the year for ``One More Chance.″