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It Was All a Dream: Biggie and the World That Made Him

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From a talented young journalist on the rise, a deeply reported, timely new biography of the Notorious B.I.G., publishing for what would have been his 50th birthday

The Notorious B.I.G. was one of the most charismatic and talented artists of the 1990s. Born Christopher Wallace and raised in Clinton Hill/Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, Biggie lived an almost archetypal rap life: young trouble, drug dealing, guns, prison, a giant hit record, the wealth and international superstardom that came with it, then an early violent death. Biggie released his first record, Ready to Die, in 1994, when he was only 22. Less than three years later, he was killed just days before the planned release of his second record Life After Death.
Journalist Justin Tinsley’s It Was All a Dream is a fresh, insightful telling of the life beyond the legend. It is based on extensive interviews with those who knew and loved Biggie, including neighbors, friends, DJs, party promoters, and journalists. And it places Biggie’s life in context, both within the history of rap but also the wider cultural and political forces that shaped him, including Caribbean immigration, the Reagan era disinvestment in public education, street life, the war on drugs, mass incarceration, and the booming, creative, and influential 1990s music industry. This is the story of where Biggie came from, the forces that shaped him, and the legacy he has left behind.

ISBN-13: 9781419750311

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: Abrams Press

Publication Date: 05-10-2022

Pages: 352

Product Dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Justin Tinsley is a senior sports and culture reporter with ESPN’s The Undefeated. In his six years with the company, Tinsley has written thought-provoking commentary and journalism on a range of subjects including Marvin Gaye, Malcom X, James Baldwin, Serena Williams, Kendrick Lamar, and Cardi B, with a focus on the intersection of sports, race, and culture. He is a regular panelist on ESPN’s daily sports debate talk show Around the Horn and is currently working on a multi-episode 30 for 30 podcast on the late rapper, entrepreneur, philanthropist and activist Nipsey Hussle, scheduled for a summer 2021 release. A graduate of Hampton University and Georgetown University, he lives in Washington, D.C.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

01 Goming to America 9

02 Voletta, Christopher, and Brooklyn 18

03 A Whole New World 35

04 Real Crack, Real Money 50

05 Life in the Game 68

06 The Tape and the Column 83

07 Harlem, the Mecca, and a Guy Named Puffy 96

08 The Decision: Streets or Rap? 114

09 Two Bubbling Superpowers 127

10 Fun Times and Big Problems 143

11 Matters of the Heart 160

12 Word on Road 169

13 Friend of Mine 181

14 The Chain Reaction 198

15 How Ya Livin', Biggie Smalls? 210

16 Growing Pains 227

17 All Eyez on Mayhem 253

18 Death, Near Death, and Rebirth 264

19 "I Want My Spot Back" 277

20 The Last Week 290

21 Long Kiss Goodnight 302

22 The Life After His Death 315

23 C.J's a Man Now 323

Acknowledgments 333