Biggie's influence on the game is deeper than you think. More than just the G.O.A.T. on the mic, Big was the first to blatantly reach for the pop-chart ring without losing his curb appeal. He spit party and love raps over Diddy's pop loops and somehow made it sound rugged. Pretty much every commercial rap artist since — from Jay-Z to Rick Ross — is tracing his footsteps.
(Photo: Shawn Mortensen / Corbis Outline/As featured in Hip Hop: A Cultural Odyssey)