The Notorious BIG, 25 years after his death, will be resurrected as a “true-to-life, hyperrealistic” avatar in a virtual-reality concert coming exclusively to Meta’s VR and Facebook platforms.
Produced in collaboration with the Notorious BIG Estate, the concert will feature Biggie’s avatar performing classics from his catalog and leading fans on a VR experience in Meta Horizon Worlds in a virtual recreation of ’90s Brooklyn called “The Brook.” The Notorious BIG, whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was murdered in 1997 at the age of 24.
Meta’s VR concert is billed as a celebration of Biggie’s 50th birthday year. “The Notorious BIG Sky’s The Limit: A VR Concert Experience” will premiere Dec. 16 exclusively in the Venues section of Meta Horizon Worlds (and in Meta Quest TV) accessible with a Meta Quest 2 or Meta Quest Pro virtual-reality headset. The VR event page is at this link. If you don’t have a Quest VR device, you can watch the 2D version of the concert on the official Notorious BIG Facebook page.
Voletta Wallace, Biggie’s mother, said in a statement, “Having the ability to create a variance of new opportunity to showcase my son Christopher’s music through the advancement of technology is hard for me to grasp at times. However, I’ve found so much excitement in the process of developing his avatar, understanding the value added for fans to experience him in ways unattainable until now. Thank you to all who have contributed to bringing this project to fruition.”
In the VR experience, audiences will follow a day in Biggie’s life through a narrative journey written and voiced by writer and music journalist Touré. The concert will also feature guest performances by Sean “Diddy” Combs, The Lox, Latto, Nardo Wick and Lil’ Cease, as well as a special set from DJ Clark Kent.
Mark Pitts, Biggie’s manager and president of RCA Records, said, “It’s amazing to create new content for BIG The world was robbed of an opportunity to watch Biggie grow and evolve as an artist. The wonder of Web3 is that it gives us an opportunity to celebrate his music with visuals that Biggie never got to make.”
For Meta, it’s the latest VR entertainment investment by the internet giant to try to realize CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of the “metaverse” as the purported successor to today’s social networks. Other recent Meta-funded projects have included “Eli Roth’s Haunted House: Trick-VR-Treat,” starring Vanessa Hudgens, and a VR experience in Horizon Worlds based on Jordan Peele’s “Nope.”
The concert is being produced by Gunpowder & Sky, whose CEO Van Toffler formed the production company after nearly three decades at MTV. Elliot Osagie, founder of Willingie, spearheaded the technology development of Biggie’s avatar with VFX director Remington Scott, CEO of Hyperreal. They also received the support of WME, which represents the Notorious BIG Estate, for the project.
“Biggie’s music has been streamed over 11 billion times worldwide and 6.5 billion in the US alone, but because of his untimely death there just wasn’t enough content to support the overwhelming demand for his music,” Osagie said. “This is why I originated the idea and came up with the decision to create a digital avatar.”
Toffler commented, “Biggie’s untimely death, similar to that of Kurt Cobain and Tupac, was a seminal moment in my previous gig at MTV. So, having the opportunity to be part of his rebirth in the virtual world — coupling the latest avatar and motion-capture technologies with the best music and storytelling — is a dream come to life. Biggie’s impact on music and culture will never have an expiration date.”
Watch the teaser for Meta’s Notorious BIG VR concert: