Illustrations: Michael Kennedy

The Legend Of The Biggie Belt

Twenty-three years ago, The Notorious B.I.G. left his 52-inch belt at ‘The Source’ magazine weeks before he died. Nine Keepers of the Belt kept it safe and secret. Why was this accessory so important?

Aliya S. King
Published in
19 min readMar 9, 2020


Update 6/7/22: Level has a new home. You can read this article and other new articles by visiting

II feel silly telling this story. I mean, it’s just a belt. But it matters to me.

The story begins in 1997 at The Source magazine.

And it starts with Rigo “Riggs” Morales.

Last week, Riggs was named senior VP, A&R and artist development at Atlantic Records. Over the past 20 years, Riggs has signed and guided dozens of platinum-selling acts, from Eminem to Wiz Khalifa and Janelle Monae.

He is an accomplished executive, respected by his peers and musicians. But 23 years ago, he was a writer and editor at The Source magazine. And he was over it.

Rigo “Riggs” Morales

After a few years at the red-hot center of hip-hop journalism, he felt like he wasn’t getting the right support. Or the right promotions. Months later with a new title — associate music editor — he made it clear that he wanted to be the music editor, which was the number two job at the magazine. Instead, he was given yet another new title: senior associate music editor. “You know what that stands for right,” he said to a coworker. “It spells out S.A.M.E. New title. Same responsibilities.”

Riggs was ready to go. He was close to everyone in the office and had started his career as an intern at the magazine. But he still knew he had gone as far as he was willing to go. The announcement was made that he was leaving, and some of his fellow writers were stunned. Riggs was an institution. He shrugged when people asked questions. “It’s just time,” he would say.

Riggs had an actual office, a rarity for most of The Source employees. When you walked in, there was a left turn to the subdued advertising and marketing side of the office, where…



Aliya S. King
Writer for

Aliya S. King is an author, freelance writer and editor.