The Notorious B.I.G.’s influence lives on.
On Thursday, ASCAP honored the Brooklyn rap icon during the 30th annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
The late rapper, who was born Christopher Wallace and died in 1997, received the coveted Founders Award, which was accepted by his wife, Faith Evans, son C.J. Wallace, and daughter T’yanna.
Wayne Barrow and Mark Pitts, the rapper’s former manager and estate consultant, were also onstage with the family, while Biggie’s DJs, Clark Kent, and DJ Enuff, treated the crowd to a roaring music battle featuring his song catalog.
Sean “Diddy” Combs acknowledged Biggie’s influence with a heartfelt video message introducing his sons, Justin and Christian Combs, who presented the award. The rap mogul signed “the greatest rapper alive” to his Bad Boy Records imprint in 1992.
“When he performed, it was like watching a miracle, there was nobody else like him” Combs said. “He was my bother, my friend, and my inspiration. He’s the foundation of everything Bad Boy. He made me believe in the impossible and push the limits of what I was doing as an artist and a producer. He set new standards of greatness and raised the bar for everyone.”
C.J. accepted his father’s award with a moving speech where he thanked “Uncle Puff” (a.k.a Diddy) for “providing a platform for our dad’s lyrics and music to touch people across the globe.”
“Thanks, to the Bad Boy family and every producer and artist who has ever had the pleasure of working with our father and creating two of the greatest albums in music history, Ready to Die and Life After Death,” he said in reference to Biggie’s debut and sophomore albums.
The star-studded event celebrated songwriters and publishers of the most-performed ASCAP songs on the 2016 R&B/hip-hop, rap and gospel charts, including French Montana, Remy Ma, and Jeremih, along with production duo, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
The musical pair received the ASCAP Voice of Music Award, just one week after being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
“It’s great to be able to share this with my partner Terry,” Jam told ET before the awards ceremony. “It’s also an evening that recognizes songwriters, who don’t get enough recognition.”
“It may not be a great analogy but it’s like when you have a great meal and the chef takes the accolades,” he explained of why songwriters aren’t always recognized for their hard work. “In order for the food to get to the chef it has to come from the farmers. The songwriters are the farmers. There is no chef without the food, but nobody thinks about the farmers — that’s not a bad thing, but the chefs are the stars.”
As for Biggie’s “amazing” award, Jam was happy that the ASCAP spotlighted his “undeniable” impact on hip-hop.
“Somebody called me a ‘living legend,’ but the emphasis should be on the living part, not the legend part,” Jam explained. “We have a lot of legends that we’ve lost, Prodigy from Mobb Deep, I lost my friend Prince — we grew up together in Minneapolis — so I think it’s important to honor people while they’re here. If that can’t happen then the next best thing is to pay them their respect and make sure that we always remember them and their achievements, and that’s what ASCAP is doing.”