NYC to celebrate Biggie Smalls’ 50th birthday with Empire State Building tribute, special MetroCards

May 18, 2022

Image courtesy of Marc A. Hermann / MTA on Flickr

One of hip-hop’s most influential artists will be paid tribute by his hometown this weekend. On May 21, the Empire State Building will turn its lighting to red and white, with a crown spinning atop its mast, in honor of the late rapper Notorious B.I.G., who would have turned 50 on Saturday. In Brooklyn, videos of Biggie Smalls, born Christopher Wallace, will be shown at the Barclays Center entrance and special MetroCards featuring the icon will be sold at three nearby subway stations, Variety reports.

On May 20, the Empire State Building will host an honorary ceremony including some of the most important people who helped him achieve success, including his mother Voletta Wallace, his children, close friends, and other collaborators and hip-hop artists.

Celebrations will continue at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center with a video montage of some of Biggie’s best-known songs on a large screen that hangs above the arena’s entrance. The arena is located close to the Brooklyn native’s home neighborhood of Clinton Hill.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will be offering a special edition MetroCard on the 21st featuring B.I.G. at the Lafayette Avenue, Clinton – Washington Avenue, and Atlantic Avenue – Barclays Center subway stations.

According to the MTA, the MetroCards will feature a portrait of Notorious B.I.G. on the reverse side and will be available for purchase starting at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 21. The cards will only be available at vending machines and will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Amazon Music and its catalog music brand [RE]DISCOVER will be hosting a takeover of the Clinton – Washington Avenue in celebration of the rapper’s birthday, presenting art based on the legendary image of Biggie wearing a crown. Visitors will be able to scan a QR code that gives them access to an exclusive Instagram filter that celebrates Biggie’s legacy. Amazon is also working alongside the non-profit Beautify Earth to reveal new murals of Biggie created by New York City artists across every borough.

On June 10, Lincoln Center, in partnership with Bad Boy / Atlantic / Rhino Records and the Christopher Wallace Estate, will be putting on an orchestral tribute to Biggie. The event will be conducted by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and feature appearances by The Originals, along with several special guests.

Also on June 10, Bad Boy / Atlantic / Rhino Records will be releasing a vinyl copy of Biggie’s diamond-certified, Grammy-nominated second album, “Life After Death.” The special, 25th-anniversary release includes 8 vinyl albums, a booklet containing photographs from the album cover photoshoot, and words from those who worked on the original album in the studio.


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