Sales of Biggie album explode on first day

March 25, 1997

Sales of Biggie album explode on first day

By LARRY McSHANE
Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) – Fans from coast to coast snapped up copies of The Notorious B.I.G.’s posthumous album Tuesday, with the rapper’s murder barely two weeks earlier fueling sales of the eerily-titled “Life After Death.”

“Death is a commodity, you know?” said Ramsey Jones, a clerk at Tower Records in Greenwich Village, where he couldn’t keep the CD on the shelf. “I have to keep stocking it every five minutes.”

At one point, the store sold 105 copies of the double-CD in a single hour, Jones said. Uptown at HMV Records, fans of the Brooklyn-born rapper were just as anxious for “Life After Death.”

“It’s flying out of here,” said manager George Romero. “… This album was going to be big already. After this (the shooting), forget it.”

The album itself was rife with violent images and sounds on tracks like “Somebody’s Gotta Die,” “Kick In the Door” and the chilling album closer “You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You).” Industry experts expect “Life After Death” to debut as the nation’s No. 1 record.

The record’s pull was as strong in the city where he died, Los Angeles, as it was in Biggie’s hometown of New York.

“It’s just the morbid curiosity of having his last album,” said Laurie Miller of the Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. The store sold 150 copies of “Life After Death” in a midnight sales promotion.

Whatever the reason, retailers were happy. “It’s absolutely fantastic,” said Jack Gattineille, manager of a Strawberries record store in downtown Boston. “It’s the No. 1 top sale.”

The Notorious B.I.G., born Christopher Wallace, was murdered in a still-unsolved drive-by shooting on March 9 following a Los Angeles music industry party. The 24-year-old had just completed work on the new album for Bad Boy Records.

Sales of his debut album, “Ready to Die,” more than tripled in the week after the rapper’s slaying. “Ready to Die” sold more than 10,000 copies nationwide after the slaying.

The equation of untimely deaths equaling big record sales was nothing new. Similar sales boosts followed the murder of Tupac Shakur and the suicide of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain.

Chaka Zulu, music director of Atlanta radio station WHTA-FM, said requests for music from the doomed rapper’s album were brisk on Tuesday.

“Definitely requested more today than any other,” he said. “The album is bangin’. I knew it was going to be hot.”

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