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The Notorious B.I.G's mom speaks out

As B.I.G.’s posthumous album tops the charts, his No. 1 fan explains how she came to love hip-hop

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Notorious B.I.G.

Though she gave birth to the late rapper the Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie (real name, Christopher Wallace) in 1972 and served as executive producer for ”Born Again,” his posthumous album of unreleased tracks which just entered the Billboard 200 chart at No. 1, Voletta Wallace hasn’t always been a hip-hop fan. ”We don’t want to see someone with their shirt out of their pants and their pants down to the bottom of their butt,” says the former schoolteacher, who also used to take issue with the genre’s violence and profanity. But when she heard her son’s first single, she began a hip-hop conversion that culminated with her keeping it all in the family by overseeing the production of ”Born Again.” ”I recognized his talent the first time I really listened to ‘Juicy,”’ she says, ”and I said to myself, Damn, he’s good.”

”Born Again” was pieced together by putting Biggie’s previously recorded vocals over new musical tracks and adding guest raps by such hip-hop luminaries as Missy ”Misdemeanor” Elliott, Busta Rhymes, Eminem, and Snoop Dogg. The current single, ”Notorious B.I.G.,” samples Duran Duran’s ’87 hit ”Notorious” and features Puff Daddy and B.I.G.’s ex-girlfriend Lil’ Kim, with whom Mrs. Wallace still has a relationship. ”I love Kim,” she says, ”if only she’d keep her clothes on.”

By selling 495,005 copies in its debut week, ”Born Again” becomes the seventh posthumous album to reach Billboard’s top spot in the ’90s. Mrs. Wallace hopes that the album will expose more people to her son’s work, but she’s also up front about her financial motivation. ”I think it’s about time the family makes some money from Biggie,” she says. ”And if [his fans] have a piece of his art, they have a piece of his legacy.”