The rap world paid tribute Thursday to one of its defining figures, The Notorious B.I.G., 20 years after he died in a still murky shooting.
Diddy, a fellow New York rapper who was one of the slain rapper’s proteges, marked the anniversary with an Instagram call for fans to recite their favorite Notorious B.I.G. verses and post the cover versions online.
Diddy wrote that the artist — also known as Biggie Smalls or, after the title of one of his songs, Big Poppa — was “the greatest rapper of all time.”
He described his first meeting with Biggie at a soul food restaurant in Harlem, saying, “The first thing I remember was how big and black he was,” in contrast to many of the rappers who had gone mainstream by the 1990s.
Among the artists who posted tributes was the rising Canadian rapper Belly who gave his rendition of the opening verses of Biggie’s “It Was All a Dream.”
Biggie, whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was shot in an SUV as he visited Los Angeles on March 9, 1997, with his murder remaining officially unsolved.
Speculation immediately rose that his death was linked to a feud between East Coast and West Coast rappers that had been simmering for years, although some music historians say the coastal rift was exaggerated for commercial reasons.
His death came less than a year after Tupac Shakur, the legendary rapper from the Los Angeles scene, was himself gunned down in Las Vegas.
In a grim anniversary tie-in, a memorabilia dealer has put on sale the cars in which Tupac and Biggie were shot. In a sign that they rival each other even in death, each car is for sale for the same price — $1.5 million.
The dealer, Moments in Time, said that a family had bought the SUV in which Biggie was killed and did not know of its history until a detective informed them in 2005 that it may be needed for the investigation.
The GMC Suburban is still running well and has 114,000 miles (183,000 kilometers) on it, the family said.
Diddy, also known a Puff Daddy, in 1997 released a chart-topping tribute song after Biggie’s death, “I’ll Be Missing You,” which features his widow Faith Evans and samples from “Every Breath You Take” by The Police.