Month Day
March 09

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!


Germany declares war on Portugal

On this day in 1916, Germany declares war on Portugal, who earlier that year honored its alliance with Great Britain by seizing German ships anchored in Lisbon’s harbor. Portugal became a republic in 1910 after a revolution led by the country’s military toppled King Manuel II 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

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

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

Spanish siege of Pensacola begins

After successfully capturing British positions in Louisiana and Mississippi, Spanish General Bernardo de Galvez, commander of the Spanish forces in North America, turns his attention to the British-occupied city of Pensacola, Florida, on this day in 1781. General Galvez and a more

Eisenhower criticizes McCarthy

On this day in 1954, President Eisenhower writes a letter to his friend, Paul Helms, in which he privately criticizes Senator Joseph McCarthy’s approach to rooting out communists in the federal government. Two days earlier, former presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson had more