Publish date:
Updated on

Christopher Wallace—a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G.—is killed in Los Angeles

If all publicity is good publicity, then New York-based Bad Boy Entertainment and Los Angeles-based Death Row Records got better publicity than they ever could have purchased as a result of the feud that broke out between the two companies in the mid-1990s. As the artists associated with the two hip-hop record labels traded taunts and insults on their records and onstage, the hip-hop press covered every twist and turn, and soon the mainstream media were breathlessly declaring a so-called “bi-coastal rap war.” The rivalry was incredibly good for business. It propelled Sean “Puffy” Combs’s Bad Boy Entertainment and Marion “Suge” Knight’s Death Row Records into the spotlight, selling millions upon millions of both labels’ records in the process. But the “East Coast vs. West Coast” beef also took the lives of two of hip-hop’s biggest stars: Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace, a.k.a. “The Notorious B.I.G.” After dominating the hip-hop industry during years of record growth in the mid-1990s, that feud finally came to an end with the shooting death of Wallace on a crowded Los Angeles street on March 9, 1997.

Christopher Wallace was a Brooklyn-based rapper whose 1994 album, Ready to Die, was largely responsible for making Bad Boy Records a success. On the night he was killed, Wallace was riding in the passenger seat of a GMC Suburban when a Toyota Land Cruiser pulled up alongside him at corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue. The driver of the Land Cruiser opened fire on Wallace, fatally wounding him before speeding away. Dozens of eyewitness accounts allowed the Los Angeles Police Department to develop a detailed reconstruction of the shooting and a composite sketch of the gunman, but Wallace’s murder remains unsolved more than a decade later.

It was widely speculated that Wallace’s killing was in some way related to the similar killing of Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas some seven months earlier in similar physical circumstances. While no evidence has ever come to light of Wallace’s involvement in Shakur’s death, Shakur had publicly accused Wallace of involvement in a 1994 attempt on his life—an accusation that greatly escalated the East Coast-West Coast feud and made Wallace and Shakur into its most prominent participants.

In the months following Christopher Wallace’s death, the East Coast-West Coast feud may have faded away, but fan interest in its participants has not. Wallace’s second and most successful studio album, Life After Death, was released less than three weeks after he died, and “new” material by both Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. continues to be released posthumously more than 10 years after both artists’ passing.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!


U.S. forces land at Vera Cruz

During the Mexican-American War, U.S. forces under General Winfield Scott invade Mexico three miles south of Veracruz. Encountering little resistance from the Mexicans massed in the fortified city of Veracruz, by nightfall the last of Scott’s 10,000 men came ashore without the more

Pancho Villa raids U.S.

In the early morning of March 9, 1916, several hundred Mexican guerrillas under the command of Francisco “Pancho” Villa cross the U.S.-Mexican border and attack the small border town of Columbus, New Mexico. Seventeen Americans were killed in the raid, and the center of town was more

Battle of the Ironclads

During the American Civil War, the CSS Virginia, a captured and rebuilt Union steam frigate formerly known as the Merrimac, engages the USS Monitor in the first battle between iron-fortified naval vessels in history. The Confederate navy’s addition of iron plates to the captured more

China’s last emperor is Japanese puppet

Henry Pu Yi, who reigned as the last emperor of China from 1908 to 1912, becomes regent of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo, comprising the Rehe province of China and Manchuria. Enthroned as the emperor Hsian-T’ung at the age of three, he was forced to abdicate four years more

Firebombing of Tokyo

On this day, U.S. warplanes launch a new bombing offensive against Japan, dropping 2,000 tons of incendiary bombs on Tokyo over the course of the next 48 hours. Almost 16 square miles in and around the Japanese capital were incinerated, and between 80,000 and 130,000 Japanese more

Marines continue to land at Da Nang

The 3,500 Marines of the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade under Brig. Gen. Frederick J. Karch continue to land at Da Nang. The Marines had begun disembarking from the USS Henrico, Union, and Vancouver on March 8 and were the first U.S. combat troops in South Vietnam. Among the more

Bobby Fischer born

On this day in 1943, Bobby Fischer is born in Chicago, Illinois. Fischer went on to become the only American ever to win the chess world championship. He also became well-known for his strange behavior, which paranoia and anti-Semitic and anti-American rants, in spite of his more

Rapper Notorious B.I.G. is killed in Los Angeles

Christopher Wallace, a.k.a Biggie Smalls, a.k.a. the Notorious B.I.G., is shot to death at a stoplight in Los Angeles. The murder was thought to be the culmination of an ongoing feud between rap music artists from the East and West coasts. Just six months earlier, rapper Tupac more

Republican senators criticize Joseph McCarthy

Senate Republicans level criticism at fellow Republican Joseph McCarthy and take action to limit his power. The criticism and actions were indications that McCarthy’s glory days as the most famous investigator of communist activity in the United States were coming to an end. A more

U.S.S. Monitor battles C.S.S. Virginia

On this day in 1862, one of the most famous naval battles in American history occurs as two ironclads, the U.S.S.Monitor and the C.S.S. Virginia, fight to a draw off Hampton Roads, Virginia. The ships pounded each other all morning but their armor plates easily deflected the more