How The Notorious B.I.G.’s Mother Discovered He Was Selling Drugs
The new Netflix documentary Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell gives a more personal insight into who the talented rapper was from his closest friends and family members. Before his music career took off, Biggie sold drugs to support himself. His devoted mother found out by chance when cleaning his room.
The Notorious B.I.G.’s transition from Catholic school kid to a street hustler
Though he eventually became part of the drug-dealing world, the rapper grew up more privileged than most of his peers in his housing complex. The son of a Jamaican immigrant, Biggie’s mother worked diligently to provide her son a comfortable life, despite living in low-income housing in a rough neighborhood.
He attended Catholic school, was a stellar student, and talented in the arts. His mother was extremely strict, not allowing him to leave his stoop to play with neighborhood friends. She kept a close watch on her son. Biggie also had the mentorship of a musically inclined uncle and a neighbor who worked as a jazz musician.
Ultimately, his dream was to become an artist and create murals and billboards throughout the city and for television commercials. But, Biggie was intrigued by the lifestyle of local drug dealers. Out of a pure desire for financial freedom, he began selling drugs as a teenager.
At one point, he and his crew became the most popular and lucrative dealers in the neighborhood. In one televised interview in the documentary, Biggie reveals he made upwards of $7,000 weekly from dealing.
The rapper’s mother discovered his drug dealing by accident
Initially, Biggie’s mother, Voletta Wallace, was unaware of her son’s street activity. One of the reasons why is because Biggie worked overtime to keep what he was doing under wraps.
“Ms. Wallace worked every day, she worked a 9-5, she was a teacher,” Biggie’s friend Damien Butler explained. “Big basically had 9-5 to do wrong. The corner we stood on [to sell drugs] was the train station she got out of. We knew the time [she got off work]. You can look down Fulton Street right now and it’s a big clock in Brooklyn that has a clock on four sides. So, you’ll know when she’s getting off work.”
Biggie also lied to his mother about how he earned his money, telling her that he worked a normal job. She believed him. But one day, it all came crashing down when his mother assumed the drugs she found in his room was old food.
“We had crack on a plate. Big used to leave it in his room to dry near the window to hang out for a couple of hours to let it dry,” Butler said. “When we came back home, Ms. Wallace had cleaned his room and as soon as he came to the door she just screamed at him and was like ‘Why are you leaving these hard mashed potatoes on a plate ?’ She scrapped it in the garbage…it was drugs.”
Ms. Wallace was furious, going as far as kicking her son out. He promised he’d stop dealing, though he didn’t immediately. Luckily, music would provide him the opportunity to leave the drug dealing behind.