The Notorious B.I.G. Song That Was Inspired By a Real Crack Dealer

The Notorious B.I.G. often alluded to dealing drugs in his music, with some songs mentioning the hustle outright. His 1997 song “10 Crack Commandments” has been regarded as the best song about drug dealing of all time, as he outlines how to achieve success as a crack dealer. To create the song, Biggie drew on the firsthand experiences of a crack dealer themself.

The Notorious B.I.G. performing in a leather vest
The Notorious B.I.G. | Larry Busacca/Getty Images

The Notorious B.I.G.’s hit song ‘The 10 Crack Commandments’ was inspired by a real crack dealer

“10 Crack Commandments” appeared on Biggie’s 1997 album Life After Death, released just two weeks after the rapper’s death. The song is a step-by-step guide to being a successful drug dealer.

Biggie was reportedly inspired by an article in The Source magazine written by a drug dealer using the pseudonym KT. The July 1994 article, “On the Rocks: From 1984 to 1994, Ten Years of Crack,” included a small sidebar titled “A Crack Dealer’s Ten Crack Commandments” that outlined 10 critical rules to help dealers survive and thrive in the business. Biggie’s mom held the same issue of The Source in the music video for his iconic single “Juicy.”

The article commemorated a decade of the ruthless crack epidemic that decimated Black communities across the country in the 1980s and ’90s. Biggie’s “10 Crack Commandments,” like many other songs about crack in hip-hop during that time, was about selling drugs as a way to survive rather than doing them for recreation.

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Biggie was a crack dealer himself

Biggie wasn’t a crack dealer when he wrote “10 Crack Commandments,” but he was able to draw on his own firsthand experiences before his career as a rapper.

Biggie himself started selling crack on the streets of his home neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn when he was just 12 years old. He welcomed his daughter, T’yanna Wallace, in 1993 with his high school girlfriend, Jan Jackson. He continued to sell crack to support his family even after the release of his hit debut single “Party and Bulls—” that same year.

When his music career began to take off, his friend and collaborator Sean “Diddy” Combs presented him with an ultimatum. “I said [to Biggie], ‘There’s only one path for you as far as selling drugs, and that’s in jail or dead,’” Diddy said in the 2021 documentary Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell. “I was just like, ‘If you want to do [music], I need you to commit to this. You can’t do both.’ And he was like, ‘Nah, I’m coming with you.’”

The Notorious B.I.G. a.k.a. Biggie Smalls on the red carpet
The Notorious B.I.G. a.k.a. Biggie Smalls | Larry Busacca/WireImage

Biggie’s mother kicked him out of the house for selling drugs

Biggie lived with his mother Voletta Wallace as a teenager and kept his drug dealing hustle to himself, telling her instead that he had a normal job. But she discovered what was really happening when she was cleaning his room one day and found crack sitting on a plate in plain sight.

Wallace was furious at her son, going so far as to kick him out of the house. When remembering how she felt at the time in the Biggie documentary, she’s still angry about what he did. 

“That b—–d,” she said sternly. “I don’t know if a human being can be so mad at a dead person. I was mad at my son for that — that incident.”

“That was a big shocker,” she continued. “That means he brought it into my house. He disrespected my house. That wasn’t my son. That wasn’t the son I wanted.”