INTERVIEW: T'yanna Wallace Talks Dad Biggie Smalls & Notoriouss Clothing
By Isha Thorpe
March 9, 2018
Born Christopher Wallace on May 21, 1972 in Brooklyn, New York; Biggie Smalls would grow up to be one of the most honored MCs to ever touch the mic. There are a number of reasons why Biggie was – and still is – so loved. His music touched people in a way that wasn’t done until he came through. Many would argue that no other artist who’s come after B.I.G. has affected the industry quite the same.
It wasn't just his lyrics that made him a star. But, with his effortless flow; Biggie was the truth and everyone who heard him spit realized this. Alongside his hip hop partner in crime, Puff Daddy, Biggie would climb the charts, sell out shows and make history without even realizing it, at the time.
Though Biggie was a superstar, he was also a loving father. Before he left the earth, he had two children, a daughter, T’yanna Wallace, and then a son, Christopher Jordan Wallace.
T’yanna is now a 24-year-old businesswoman and the owner of Notoriouss, which is a boutique clothing store in Brooklyn, New York. iHeartRadio visited the boutique and interviewed the eldest child of The Notorious B.I.G. about her brand, her thoughts about her late dad and more. The conversation was a lot of fun.
"I wanted to do something where I could keep his name alive..."
“I've always been into fashion since high school,” T’yanna exclusively told us. “So, I went to Penn. State. My major was business. And then around my sophomore year, I was like, ‘I really want to start a clothing line, and I really want to do something dedicated and kind of inspired by my dad. So, that's how the name Notoriouss came about, and that's how I kind of started doing my clothing line straight from college.”
Each and every item pays homage to her Pops, in one way or the other. From having his photo or lyrics on merch, Notoriouss clothing is all about B.I.G. T'yanna continued: “I just felt like I wanted to do something where I could continue his legacy, and I don't do music, so it wasn't going to be that. I wanted to do something where I could keep his name alive and also have me included in it.”
"Usually on March 9, which is the anniversary of my dad's death, I'll do like a collab with another artist, and we'll do a T-shirt together that usually has an image of my dad on it..."
Then, we asked the fashion designer about her favorite pieces in the line. “I feel like everything that I drop in the summer is always my favorite,” she said. “I'm a summer baby. I was born in August. So, I feel like when it's time to design for the summer, I'm just a creative bomb.”
T’yanna then began elaborating about her designs. “Each and every piece is designed by me,” she revealed. “I have other graphic designers that I have worked with. Usually on March 9, which is the anniversary of my dad's death, I'll do like a collab with another artist, and we'll do a T-shirt together that usually has an image of my dad on it, something that has to do with him. I've done about three of them, three or four. I've done them every year since I started my clothing line.”
Afterward, T’yanna starting speaking about what attracted her to New York’s, specifically Brooklyn’s style, since she was raised in the Poconos, but would visit NYC from time to time. During these visits, T'yanna realized that she loved the “new and hip and bright” sense that BK fashion had, which was a complete contrast from where she lived. That’s why Notoriouss is so hip hop influenced.
When explaining how she thinks her dad inspired hip hop style, T’yanna said: “I would say these big guys out here definitely got confidence from him. I don't care what none of them say. They can say they got it from they mama, but they got it from Biggie. He definitely gave people the confidence to wear high fashion brands like Versace.”
"I get a lot of weird questions. I think the number one weird question to me is, ‘Do you listen to Tupac?"
Later in the fun sit-down, we got more into Biggie as a parent. After iHeartRadio asked T’yanna when she realized that her dad was a big deal, she answered: “Probably all my life just because I never really ran into anyone that didn't know who my dad was. I never really ran into anyone that wasn't a fan of his music. So, I've always known that people like my dad, people love my dad. But, it became more obvious when I moved to Brooklyn, of course.”
Unfortunately, fans of Biggie can say some pretty odd things to her, once they learn who her Pops is. “I get a lot of weird questions,” T’yanna admitted. “I think the number one weird question to me is, ‘Do you listen to Tupac?’"
"I'm proud of him for leaving the legacy for himself at such a young age. I feel like that's really hard to do."
We couldn’t end the interview without asking the only daughter of B.I.G. what makes her most proud to be his child. She replied: “I'm proud of him for leaving the legacy for himself at such a young age. I feel like that's really hard to do. He was super, super young when he passed away. He was only 24. So, for it to be 20 years later since he passed away and to almost still be a household name is really amazing. So, I'm definitely proud of him for leaving that mark on the world.”
T’yanna wrapped up the cool convo by giving some closing remarks about her Notoriouss label. “I definitely want people to know that my brand is the new hip, young thing," she declared. "I think that it's really cool, I think it's fresh, I think all the people are going to love it. I think that people my age are gonna love it, and the people that are fans of my dad are also gonna love it. So, it's a really cool combination.”
Photos: Rachel Kaplan for iHeartRadio