LOS ANGELES, March 9 -- East Coast 'gangsta' rapper Notorious B.I.G., whose real name was Christopher Wallace, has died in a Los Angeles hospital from multiple gunshot wounds following a drive-by shooting. He was 24.
Wallace was shot several times as he sat in his car early Sunday morning following a party for the Soul Train Music Awards. He was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Fans in Brooklyn were shocked by his death. A statement from local radio station Hot97 said Wallace had 'a warmth and sincerity that never let his superstar status make him untouchable.' Wallace, also known as the rapper Big-E-Small, won the best rap song award at last year's Soul Train Music Awards. He was also named Rapper of the Year in 1995, when his debut album 'Ready to Die' went platinum. Notorious B.I.G., who made it known he started out as a crack dealer in Brooklyn, was about to release a double album ironically titled, 'Life After Death: 'Til Death Do Us Part.' Officials from his record company, Bad Boy Entertainment, say they are 'overwhelmed by the death of a great artist, a family member and friend.' Wallace lived in Teaneck, N.J., where he was arrested last summer for drug and weapons possession. He was also arrested last fall in Brooklyn for allegedly smoking marijuana in a car, and was facing assault charges for a baseball bat beating of a fan. Wallace's shooting death was similar to the recent killing of his fierce West Coast rival, Tupac Shakur, who was shot to death in Las Vegas seven months ago when gunmen drove up beside him and opened fire. The slain rapper leaves behind a 4-year-old daughter and a newborn son. ---
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