Before riding on speedboats, luxury cars and before his daughter got five karats put on her ear, Christopher Lee Wallace was in front of fashion photographer David McIntyre’s lens, in DUMBO, photographing the soon to be named “King of New York” for Interview Magazine. The photos show a pre-Ready to Die Biggie Smalls, before fame, beef and tragedy. Some photos were featured in the magazine, but most of them have never been seen, because McIntyre lost the negatives. As luck would have it, McIntyre just found the pictures recently, and is now trying to raise $28,000 to print these never before seen Biggie pictures for a photo exhibit in Brooklyn.
Finding something so rare, he could have just put them on the web, but instead he wanted to blow these photos up, extremely large, much like the persona of the man himself and place them in an exhibition. But, of course, there is one thing stopping him from doing so: money (shocker). So doing what the kids do nowadays, McIntyre went to Kickstarter to help fund his project called Biggie Smalls: The Man Who Would Be King.
You see kids, these photos of Biggie were taken in 1994, and before Flickr and Dropbox, you had to keep things around and remember where you put them. It took McIntyre 21 years to find the photographs and did so by luck—they were in the inside pocket of a jacket he was getting ready to deliver to Goodwill.
The goal of his Kickstarter is for McIntyre to have the funds to scan, print and transport the photos, as well as rent gallery space, send invites and more. He wants to show these photos and all of the detail that these photos possess in as large a gallery as possible, with a red carpet opening to go along with it. McIntyre told us over email he would love to host the event inside the Duggal Greenhouse inside the Navy Yard. “We could have 12 foot high prints. What a party, what a celebration it would be,” he told us.
McIntyre has other galleries in mind if not Duggal, all of them in Brooklyn (where it should be). If enough money is raised, McIntyre told us that he would “love to take this show on the road and share Biggie with his fans across America and perhaps beyond.” His overall goal is to have one of the photos added to The National Gallery, as he was shocked to learn that Biggie is not already there (Puffy and The RZA are already there, so why not Biggie?).
How do you lose iconic photos like one McIntyre described to DNA Info as Biggie standing with the Manhattan Bridge and the World Trade Center behind him?
McIntyre told us that he must have been wearing the jacket, “probably the most expensive jacket I’d ever bought, a Jean Paul Gaultier,” while printing the photos, but stained the jacket by splashing chemicals on it. Due to the stain, he stopped wearing the jacket, but didn’t want to just throw it out as it slipped further back into his closet. Despite having gone through with the jacket donation (after finding the negatives of course), McIntyre is “now searching online every day to see if I can find it to buy it back since it’s getting a lot of attention.”
Alls well that ends well though, so even if McIntyre doesn’t wind up with his jacket, we could still at least end up with a really cool Notorious B.IG. photo exhibit. That is if you show some love (it’s the Brooklyn way after all) and give some cash for a chance to see a rare moment in hip-hop history.