Mother of slain rapper promotes book, duet album

December 18, 2005|By ERIC R. DANTON | ERIC R. DANTON,HARTFORD COURANT

For a long time after the death of her son, Voletta Wallace lost her identity.

"I didn't even know if I had a name," she says. "I was just Biggie's mom."

Biggie, of course, was Notorious B.I.G., the iconic rapper killed in Los Angeles in a 1997 shooting incident that has never been solved. Now, more than eight years later, Wallace has reclaimed herself with a book, Biggie: Voletta Wallace Remembers Her Son, Christopher Wallace, aka Notorious B.I.G., and a promotional tour for a new album of duets featuring Biggie juxtaposed with a slew of the rap world's biggest stars.

The album, Duets: The Final Chapter, falls somewhere between a batch of new songs and a collection of remixes. With one exception -- "Whatchu Want," with Jay-Z -- the songs feature vocal snippets of B.I.G. taken from elsewhere, put to new music and paired with collaborators such as Eminem, Missy Elliott, Faith Evans and two late performers, Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur.

"They graced it with pleasure," Wallace says of collaborators on the album, which comes out Tuesday.

"I've always wanted my son to do something with Bob Marley," says Wallace, who was born and raised in Jamaica and played Marley records around the house when Christopher was a child.

Death also connects B.I.G. with Shakur, who was gunned down in Las Vegas six months before Biggie was killed.

Biggie's mom, though, hopes there's already been a final chapter for the sort of hip-hop feuds that turned lethal.

"Make music -- that's what you're capable of doing," she says. "Life is too short. Enjoy it."

Eric R. Danton writes for the Hartford Courant.

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