Life After Death, the Notorious B.I.G.’s super-sized, sophomore album dropped 20 years ago on March 25, 1997. In the weeks and months leading up to that date, the buzz for the record took on a life of its own. It quickly became one of the most hotly anticipated releases that year and one of the most buzzed-about records in the history of rap. Sadly, the man behind the mic wasn’t around to celebrate when it finally arrived in stores. Sixteen days earlier, on March 9th, Christopher Wallace was gunned down while sitting at a stoplight in an SUV at the corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Halifax Avenue in Los Angeles. He was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, but there was nothing the doctors could do. Biggie was gone.
Because of the incredible circumstances surrounding Life After Death at the time it dropped, not to mention it’s prophetic title and somber cover image, there’s a sense of grim finality that has engulfed the project in the minds of fans and casual observers alike. Make no mistake though, Life After Death was never intended to be a farewell or a final statement. Instead, it was meant to mark the next chapter in the life and career of “The King of New York.”
“I call the album Life After Death because when I was writing stuff like ‘[expletive] the world, [expletive] my Mom and my girl’ on Ready To Die, I was dead, yo,” Biggie explained to the Los Angeles Times in 1997. “There was nothing but anger coming out.” Everything had flipped since then. A future that once seemed so bleak, now had vibrancy. “I wanna see my kids graduate,” he told the paper. “I want to go to my daughter’s wedding and my son’s wedding, and I want to watch them get old. You’re not going to get to see that if you’re out there wilding.”