Family and friends of The Notorious B.I.G. gathered at an intimate lighting ceremony Friday (May 20) inside the iconic Empire State Building in the heart of New York City.

Voletta Wallace — Biggie’s mom — was among those in attendance who spoke. Lil’ Kim, the rapper’s former protégé, and love interest, also shared a few words about the legendary emcee.

While their love for B.I.G. was evident through their speeches, the two had differing views on whether the Empire State Building would have honored him in this way if he were still alive today.

“When I look at the Empire State Building and how strong it stands, I think about B.I.G. and how strong he stood at 6 feet something. That soft cushy belly and just a soft heart to go with it,” Lil’ Kim said. “He meant everything to me, anybody that knows me, knows that. I would’ve so loved for him to see this day. Because I feel like even if he was here this is something that still would’ve happened.”

“The love that everyone had for him. He was so fun, he was caring at the same time. I can see him right now doing the butterfly in his drawers,” she added.

Ms. Wallace thanked the team at the Empire State Building for putting the event together and said that she was a “proud mother.”

“Tonight is also a bittersweet night,” she said. “I would have loved for my son to be here to witness this. But then again, think about it. If he was here. I don’t think this would’ve happened. So, he’s not here. And I wish with all my heart that all of you and all of the friendly faces, all of the genuine love that’s being permeated throughout this room, throughout New York City, Brooklyn, and the world. I love my son. I will always say I’m a mother forever. I want to thank you all for coming up to be here to share the love – not only to spread love the Brooklyn way but to spread love worldwide.

Before the event ended, Ms. Wallace, Kim, Lil’ Cease, C.J. Wallace, and others flipped the switch to turn the lights on the NYC landmark.

On Saturday (May 21), what would have been Biggie’s 50th birthday, the Empire State Building will shine its world-famous tower lights in a dynamic red and white flashing light show, with a crown and the number “50” rotating in the building’s mast.

The Empire State Building Observatory Experience will also feature a life-size, photorealistic avatar of B.I.G. on the 80th Floor on Saturday. The avatar photo booth will be available for guest viewing and photographs from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Watch the ceremony in honor of B.I.G. below: