We gave it an A-
Christopher Wallace had many names: The Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls, Teflon Don, and Black Frank White were just a few of them. In this meticulously researched biography, Coker unearths the human being behind the multiple monikers and blustery braggadocio. The book traces his life from his sheltered, chubby childhood in Brooklyn to his drug-dealing adolescence to his short time atop the fractious hip-hop heap and, finally, to his sudden murder in 1997 at age 24 — including a detailed examination of the still-unsolved crime. There’s plenty of drugs, guns, beefs, and sex, as expected, but Coker also engages in a deft analysis of Biggie’s music and hip-hop’s real scandal-in-waiting, the shady economics of record labels. In Unbelievable, Biggie’s extra-large legend gets the intelligent, nuanced examination it deserves.