Jim Smeal/WireImage, Gregg DeGuire/WireImage
Jim Smeal/WireImage, Gregg DeGuire/WireImage
The Notorious B.I.G.'s friend Sean "Diddy" Combs wants fans to help him celebrate his life on the 20th anniversary of his death.
Meanwhile, while the rapper's widow Faith Evans says in a new interview that she does not have closure, his voice will live on via a new record she is putting out to honor his legacy.
The Notorious B.I.G, also known as Biggie Smalls and whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was killed in a drive-by shooting age 24 as he left a music industry party at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997. The rapper's death remains one of the most high-profile killings in music history. His killer was never found.
"The fact that a tragic homicide did take place...until we find the people responsible for the murder of Biggie, this case will remain open," an LAPD spokesperson told E! News Thursday. "We ask that anyone who knows anything, please call and assist us in this investigation."
Many have speculated the shooting stemmed from a feud between the East and West Coast rap community. Diddy, then known as Puff Daddy, headed the New York-based record label Bad Boy Entertainment, to which Biggie was signed. He had also attended the party.
"Hey what's up everybody? Today is March 9 and 20 years ago today, we lost the greatest rapper of all time, the Notorious B.I.G," Diddy said on Instagram Thursday, alongside a video montage of Biggie rapping in his music videos and goofing around. "Today, we're gonna celebrate his life through his music and through his legacy."
"So check this out, this is what I want you to do: I want you to rap your favorite Biggie verse and post it with the hashtag #WeMissYouBIG and I'm gonna chop it up, edit it up, everything. We're gonna put out something special with all the fans and friends and family involved to celebrate the Notorious B.I.G.'s life," he said. "Hashtag #WeMissYouBIG. We definitely miss you."
He also recalled the first time he met Biggie. He brought the rapper to a Soul Food restaurant in Harlem to discuss music business.
"The first thing that I remember was how big and black he was," Diddy said, laughing. "I saw a picture but in person, this guy is really a big guy and he's really, really, really dark-skinned. Then I remember him sitting down and he really didn't have anyhting to say. So you have this big guy that has thsi in-your-face rap attitutude but was quiet
"This is the best Soul Food in the world. I asked him if he wanted to eat and he was like, nah—he didn't want to eat," Diddy said. "I realized that that's how big this moment was for him. This was really his dream. He couldn't even eat."
Biggie was survived by Evans and their baby son Christopher Jordan "CJ" Wallace, who is now 20. Two months after the rapper's death, she, Diddy and 112 released "I'll Be Missing You," which samples The Police's "Every Breath You Take," in his memory.
"Aside from the criminal case itself, I don't think that's so much as something to heal from," Evans said on The Breakfast Club radio show Thursday. "He's not here, so that's never going to change. The criminal case is something separate. I wouldn't say we have closure. We just decided not to continue paying money to make them admit that they know what happened, basically. No, I mean, there's no closure in that sense but we just have to move on and live with the great memories of Big that we have. That's really all we've been able to do."
"To be honest, it doesn't mean anything different 20 years later than it did five years ago, seven years ago...I wouldn't say it feels different though. I still feel like there's a huge part of my life that's gone. But the great thing about the person Big was is that 20 years later me, Cease, Nino, we all still laugh at the very same stuff. It's still just as funny and I don't know, it was just something about Big that everybody who got a chance to know him still feels the same way. It's always gonna always feel like he's still here."
She also recalled how Biggie felt about his rivalry with West Coast rapper Tupac Shakur, who was killed in a drive-by shooting six months before him.
"I always got the impression that Big was really hurt that he would be manipulated to feel that way about him," she said. "I think it was a manipulation only based on what Big always told me about him and Pac's friendship."
Evan has been working on a duets album featuring B.I.G's vocals. The record, The King & I, is due to drop on May 19, two days before what would have been his 45th birthday. It also features verses from the likes of Busta Rhymes, one of the rapper's good friends, and Lil' Kim, who had had an affair with him while he was married to Evans.
She was inspired by the late Natalie Cole's virtual duet of "Unforgettable" with her late father, Nat King Cole.
Evans said on The Breakfast Club she felt Biggie's presence while working on the album.
"I do joke with him sometimes," Evans said. "It wasn't emotional until that particular time when I just felt like, 'I think he's telling me he's proud.' I just was playing the music back for some people in the studio and everybody was just enjoying it and I just felt a tap on his shoulder and I was like, 'I think that was Big."