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Rapper Notorious B.I.G. slain in Los Angeles

March 9, 1997

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Rapper Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down as he left a party early Sunday, police said, becoming the second high-profile gangsta rap artist slain in the last six months.

The rapper whose real name was Christopher Wallace was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, Police Officer Tommy Gallardo said.

Wallace, 24, was attending a party at the Petersen Automotive Museum in celebration of the 11th annual Soul Train Music Awards held on Friday night, witness Kevin Kim said outside the hospital, where dozens of friends and fans gathered to mourn.

Also known as Biggie Smalls, Wallace built his gangsta rap persona around authenticity, making much of his past as an ex-crack dealer from Bedford-Stuyvesant, one of Brooklyn’s toughest neighborhoods.

Kim said he and rapper Faith Evans, Wallace’s ex-wife, were in the museum parking lot when they heard gunshots and saw people running. Wallace was shot as he sat in his Chevy Suburban.

``Someone just rolled by and started shooting,″ Kim said.

Wallace was immediately driven in his own sport utility vehicle to the hospital. Detectives cordoned it off in the hospital parking lot and studied at least five bullet holes in the passenger’s side front door before impounding the vehicle.

In September, rapper Tupac Shakur was shot in a drive-by attack in Las Vegas as he rode in a car with Death Row Records president Marion ``Suge″ Knight. Shakur died six days later.

Wallace was considered a rival of Shakur, who had accused him of involvement in a 1994 robbery in which Shakur was shot several times and lost $40,000 in jewelry. Wallace was conspicuously absent from a high-profile ``rap summit″ in Harlem last fall that was called after Shakur’s slaying.

He was honored as rap artist of the year at the Billboard Awards in 1995; his single, ``One More Chance/Stay With Me,″ was named the best rap single that year after debuting at No. 5, tying Michael Jackson’s ``Scream/Childhood″ as the highest debuting single ever.

Wallace’s debut album, ``Ready to Die,″ went platinum, selling more than 1 million copies. He was also a guest rapper on Jackson’s ``HIStory _ Past, Present and Future Book 1″ album.

The rapper born in Brooklyn, had a history checkered with run-ins with police.

Last summer, he was arrested after police checking a parking complaint said they found marijuana and firearms at his Teaneck, N.J., home.

Just months earlier, he was charged with assault in New York after allegedly using a baseball bat to attack a pair of autograph seekers. Wallace pleaded guilty to criminal mischief and fourth-degree harassment and was sentenced to 100 hours of community service.

Last fall, he was charged with drug possession after Brooklyn police said they caught him smoking marijuana in a parked car.

In January, Wallace was ordered to pay $25,000 to a man beaten in May 1995 in a dispute over a canceled performance in Camden, N.J. The civil lawsuit followed his acquittal of robbery charges in the same incident.

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