Hip-hop's ten most impactful deaths

Today marks the anniversary of the day that the world lost the greatest rapper of all time. Christopher Wallace's untimely death on March 9, 1997, had a significant impact on the rap game. If Biggie had lived, for instance, his presence would have essentially erased the need for Jay-Z. Unstoppable as it was, Jay-Z's breakout single "Hard Knock Life" was lent gravitas by the invocation of the recently (very recently) deceased Biggie Smalls. Say what you want, Jay-Z stepped in to fill a void when we were all hurting.

Biggie's passing also paved the way for Puffy to sell twenty million copies of "I'll Be Missing You" worldwide. Bad Boy's most successful year was the year preceding Biggie's death. But within one year, Britney, Christina and Justin ruled the charts, and Puffy was forced to diversify and create the blueprint of multiple revenue streams (clothing lines, fragrances, restaurants, etc.) to keep his empire afloat.

Many rappers (ahem, Master P) followed suit. To this day, invoking Biggie's themes and world outlook are still big (no pun intended) business. Nasir Jones notwithstanding, nobody cares that Jay's best lines are borrowed from Biggie. Thinking about Big made us reflect on other iconic members of the hip-hop nation that we've lost over the years. Click through for a rundown of the top ten most impactful deaths in hip-hop.


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