This past Saturday, Christopher Wallace, aka The Notorious B.I.G., would have turned 50 years old. Among the many, many celebrations of the Brooklyn rapper’s life and legacy over the weekend was a Twitter Spaces event hosted by Tidal. Thousands of listeners tuned in to hear B.I.G.’s contemporaries, friends, and peers share their stories and remember the giant-sized footprints he left on hip-hop despite his short reign.
One of those peers was Jay-Z, who said that a void was left behind by the deaths of Biggie and his friend-turned-rival Tupac. “That’s a big void,” he admitted, before allowing, “Others stepped in to fill it as well, not just myself.”
Jay received praise from Sean “Diddy” Combs, Biggie’s benefactor as the founder of Bad Boy Records, who told him, “You filled them shoes, though. You came in and we definitely give thanks. You definitely came, and I just know how much Big really looked up to Jay. They looked up to each other. That is crazy you had to step into the shoes of two people. That’s all it was was those two people. They had things on lock.”
He continued, pointing out how, before the two titans’ deaths, Jay was still something of a neophyte, having only released one album, Reasonable Doubt, in 1996. Unfortunately, by the time he’d released its follow-up, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, both Tupac and Big had been gunned down. “Hov was coming,” Diddy explained to the Spaces listeners, “but it was like these two cats was just so big… I think Hov kept the art of it going and took where they was at and took it even higher.”
In addition to the celebration on Twitter, Big’s birthday was honored by the city of New York with commemorative MetroCards, a series of murals throughout the city, and a crown atop the Empire State Building.