Today, Aug. 20, marks the birthday of Lil' Cease, a rapper who came into the spotlight after being taken under the wing of the legendary Notorious B.I.G. Cease is now 41 years old.

Born James Lloyd, Cease was raised in the same Brooklyn streets that cultivated B.I.G. Having known Big from an early enough age—Big used to buy Cease juice boxes when he was still hustling—Cease had a front row seat for Biggie's rise from a Fulton Street hustler named by the name of Fat Chris to the Notorious B.I.G., soon-to-be-rap-legend and torch-bearer for East Coast hip-hop.

After Big dropped off his classic Ready to Die album in September 1994, he began working alongside a then-unknown Lil' Kim, Lil' Cease, Bugsy, Capone, Chico, Nino Brown, MC Klepto, Mr. Bristal and Chico Del Vec. Together they formed Junior M.A.F.I.A. and aided by Biggie, who acted as a member of the clique, the group dropped off their debut album, Conspiracy, in 1995.

For his part in the group, Cease appeared on four tracks on Conspiracy, establishing himself is a quality mic presence on the project, which ultimately went gold.

Although Conspiracy wasn't the enormous success of Biggie's albums, it helped launch Lil' Kim and Cease, who both linked up on "Crush on You," which was the biggest single from Kim's debut album, Hard Core. Cease's verse on the track goes to this day, and it only served to propel him further into the spotlight.

In 1999, Cease himself took up the solo route, dropping his first and only solo LP, The Wonderful World of Cease A Leo. Loaded with features from Jay-Z, Puff Daddy, Lil' Kim, Busta Rhymes and more, the project debuted at No. 26 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

In the years that followed, Cease would intermittently release new music while acting as one of the best sources for amazing stories about the late B.I.G.

Happy Birthday, Lil' Cease, and here's to many more!

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