Born Christopher Wallace, the rapper formerly known as Biggie Smalls became the most famous act on Puff Daddy’s fledgling label, Bad Boy Records, laying the cornerstone of what would become an entertainment empire. Though this Brooklyn rap icon only released two albums (the classics Ready to Die and Life After Death) before his violent death on March 9, 1997, his undeniable genius as a lyricist and MC solidified his standing as one of the greatest rappers of all time. B.I.G. was married to R&B star Faith Evans and produced Junior M.A.F.I.A. a group of his friends from Brooklyn, which also included breakout star Lil' Kim.
Tupac Amaru Shakur (aka 2Pac) was born in Harlem, the son of two active members of the Black Panther Party. After a brief stay in Baltimore, Maryland, his family relocated to California when he was 16. Shakur began his rap career as a roadie and dancer with Oakland hip hop group Digital Underground. After the 1991 release of his debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, the sensitive provocateur’s rap career skyrocketed. He also garnered critical acclaim for riveting performances in films like Juice and Poetic Justice, in which he played a romantic lead opposite Janet Jackson. Despite repeated arrests, shootings and a prison sentence, Shakur was in the process of turning his life around when was killed at age 25 in a still-unsolved Las Vegas shooting. His legacy as a hip hop legend lives on.