For over a decade, Keithroy Yearwood has been the unknown subject of Hip Hop trivia. People always wondered who the infant on the cover of Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready To Die album cover was, and the New York Daily News tracked down the now 18-year-old Yearwood to get the back-story on how he ended up as a part of Hip Hop lore.
“When I first found out about it, it wasn’t a big deal to me,” Yearwood told the Daily News. “Now, of course, it’s a big deal to me,”
During the initial years after the album was released, many speculated that the infant on the cover was indeed the Notorious B.I.G. But both B.I.G. himself and Sean Combs shot down those rumors. Later, Combs would reveal to RapRadar.com that the baby on the cover did indeed come from a casting agency. Ready To Die went on to sell 3.3 million copies, and Yearwood even became the subject of other emcees rhymes who referenced Biggie’s debut. The album cover sparked a small feud between Notorious B.I.G., Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, who initially felt Ready To Die copied the artwork from Nas’ Illmatic.
Nas—whose debut also featured artwork of him as an infant—addressed the issue on the song “Last Real Nigga Alive” saying the following:
“B.I.G. was ahead of his time / Him and Raekwon my niggas / But dig it / They couldn’t get along / That’s when Ghostface set it on the purple tape / Bad Boy biting Nas album cover wait / B.I.G. told me Rae was stealing my slang / And Rae told me out in Shaolin B.I.G. would do the same thing / But I borrowed from both them niggas…”
The 1997 murder of Notorious B.I.G. put the issue to rest, as Rae and Ghost have been included with Biggie on posthumous projects. And for his part, Yearwood, who only made $150 from his toddler modeling job only wants one thing.
“I just want people to know that’s me,” Yearwood added. “The truth is finally coming out.”