Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs led a standing ovation for his late ‘friend, brother, and artist’ Biggie Smalls on what would have been his 45th birthday at Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards.
In 1993, the 47-year-old Bad Boy Records mogul signed the rap legend (born Christopher Wallace), who sold 25M records before being gunned down at the tender age of 24 in 1997.
‘It all started with the Notorious B.I.G.,’ said the three-time Grammy winner in a chic hat selected by stylist Derek S. Roche.
‘His Ready to Die album, his Life After Death album – classics. He changed the game of hip-hop forever. Biggie was the best rapper I ever had a chance to work with. Watching him and seeing him work is something that words can’t explain.’
The Harlem-born hip-hop star concluded: ‘Happy birthday, Biggie. B.I.G. forever!’
Diddy also gave a shout-out to Biggie’s mother Voletta Wallace and then brought his son, CJ Wallace, onstage the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
‘I know my father is looking down on all of us tonight and all of this love and support,’ the 20-year-old actor-rapper – whose mother is R&B belter Faith Evans – said.
‘My sister [T’yanna] and I will continue to carry on his name with tremendous pride and live my life by his words.’
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The ‘extra emotional’ Finna Get Loose rapper also flooded his 24.7M social media followers with never-before-seen posts honoring the Notorious B.I.G.
One grainy video showed a 17-year-old Biggie demonstrating his immense gift for freestyling on a street corner in his Brooklyn hometown of Bed Stuy.
Sunday marked the release of Invisible Bully’s 15-style Notorious B.I.G. Birthday collection of clothing available online and at 12AM:RUN in Las Vegas.
Diddy also unveiled the trailer for Daniel Kaufman’s documentary Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: The Bad Boy Story, which begins streaming June 25, 2017, on Apple Music.
The Howard University drop-out – who boasts an $820M fortune – plans on focusing on acting and retiring from music after the release and tour of his sixth studio album No Way Out 2.
However, Diddy – who has six children with three women – was without his on/off girlfriend of six years, Cassie Ventura.