On April 12, 1997, Life After Death hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album sales chart, skyrocketing from No. 176 in the course of a week—the biggest one-week leap ever in the chart's history.
Prompting the meteoric rise of the double-disc release, still the third best-selling rap album of all time with more than 10 million copies sold, was the arrival into the mainstream consciousness of the artist responsible, Notorious B.I.G., who had been murdered on March 9, 1997, at the age of 24, two weeks before Life After Death's release.
Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie Smalls and born Christopher George Latore Wallace at St. Mary's Hospital in Brooklyn, was already a hip-hop mega-star, his 1994 debut Ready to Die also cited as one of the most influential releases of its time, having shifted the epicenter of the rap world back to the East Coast—where it arguably stayed until alternative capitals of the hip-hop world started cropping up in other regions of the country in the late 1990s.