Raleigh: Ryan’s town, and Biggie’s, too

biggieOne of my favorite little details in “Losering” is, admittedly, one of the least consequential to be found anywhere in the book. It comes at the end of the chapter about Ryan’s early-1990s arrival in Raleigh from Jacksonville, and it takes note of another recent arrival who also spent a few years in Raleigh shortly before going off to get famous. That was Christopher Wallace, better-known as Biggie Smalls — the rapper Notorious B.I.G., who died 20 years ago this week.

Ryan got in a little trouble with the law back then, but nothing too serious. As for Wallace, who had come South from Brooklyn to try and stay out of trouble, he was arrested for possession of cocaine and marijuana with intent to sell; he copped a guilty plea in exchange for probation and a suspended sentence before moving on. By the time Biggie was murdered in a 1997 drive-by shooting, a few months shy of his 25th birthday, he was among the biggest rappers in the world. You can see a remembrance of his Raleigh days here. Some years ago, I went and looked up Wallace’s arrest report, hoping it might include a mugshot. But if ever a mugshot existed, it was long gone by then.

Of course, none of this is to suggest that Ryan and Biggie hung out together in Raleigh, or even met; there is no evidence they ever did. Nevertheless, I found it kind of fascinating that they were both knocking around the same off-the-beaten-path town back then, under similar hardscrabble circumstances. So this is how Chapter 2 of “Losering” concludes:

Like Adams, Wallace wasn’t shy about telling people he was going to be famous someday. But history does not record whether or not Ryan and Biggie ever crossed paths in Raleigh during their prefame days.

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