The Notorious B.I.G. Is Still The Greatest Rapper Of All Time

The Notorious BIG, also known as Biggie Smalls and born Christopher Wallace, was shot and killed 20 years ago today.

Biggie, who was 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighed almost 300 pounds, emerged during what many might refer to as the golden era of hip-hop, and his influence on the musical genre is unparalleled.

His talent, both in terms of writing lyrics and freestyling, is indisputable.

Two decades after his death, he is still the greatest rapper of all time.

The man was a magician with words. Words were his weapon, and his salvation.

Through his incredible music, Biggie told vivid tales of life on the tough streets of Brooklyn, offering an intimate view into a gruesome and unforgiving world many have no familiarity with.

Biggie was selling crack in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn as early as 15.

He felt trapped by that life, but music offered him an escape route.

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Biggie's rags-to-riches story was quintessentially American, and continues to fill people with hope.

"Juicy," one of his most recognizable tracks, is about overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles -- oppression, poverty, racism, violence, crime and crippling self-doubt -- and finally making it big.

This song captures the true spirit of hip-hop: a beautiful blend of story-telling, poetry, music, hope, humor and swagger.

The Notorious B.I.G. on YouTube

While many try to dismiss hip-hop as a musical genre that condones depravity, it's actually a celebration of progress and perseverance; "Juicy" is a prime example of that.

In fact, researchers at Cambridge University found that hip-hop is extremely effective in combatting depression, bipolar disorder and addiction, largely due to its overall positive narrative and the fact many artists tell stories of overcoming immense hurdles to find success.

Hip-hop helps induce "positive visual imagery."

In other words, amid bipolar episodes or periods of depression, hip-hop can help people envision a brighter future.

As Dr. Akeem Sule, a psychiatrist who conducted the study alongside neuroscientist Dr. Becky Inkster, put it,

Biggie's music was fundamentally about "breaking free," and his songs continue to inspire new generations of rappers while providing endless enjoyment, and sometimes even healing, for countless listeners.

The Notorious B.I.G. on YouTube

Biggie called himself the "King of New York," and it's hard to disagree.

In 2017, Biggie's music is still invading every corner of America's biggest city.

There are murals paying tribute to him throughout Brooklyn and beyond, and his appeal spans across generations.

Biggie's timelessness, and the contagious positivity of his music, is precisely why he remains the greatest of all time.