The Notorious B.I.G.’s Hidden Talent Revealed in New Netflix Documentary

It’s been 24 years since the death of The Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie. Despite the amount of time that’s passed, his music remains significant and he’s credited with creating a different version of story-telling in hip-hop. According to his new Netflix documentary, I Got a Story to Tell, Biggie’s flow can be attributed to his hidden talent of being an R&B singer.

The Notorious B.I.G.
The Notorious B.I.G. performs at the International Amphitheatre 1995 | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Diddy reveals Biggie was a talented R&B singer

Despite being lauded as the greatest rapper of all time, friends and family of the slain rapper say he had singing chops. Biggie himself hinted to such throughout his short yet prolific career.

One clip in the documentary shows Biggie in a radio interview with Dog House. He admits that at his core, he’s not the biggest fan of hip hop music and prefers old-school rhythm and blues.

“I don’t really listen to too much hip hop,” he says. “I usually listen to slow songs – like The Stylistics.” 

Source: YouTube

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The scene then cuts to home video footage of Biggie and his friends in a parking lot. The rapper bursts out into song by Jodeci where he shows off his vocal chops. His label head and friend, Diddy, reveals that Biggie was a talented singer.

“The hidden secret is that Biggie was really an R&B writer, he was like an R&B singer,” Diddy explains. “That’s why you get the melodies [in his music]. It was rare that he would be rapping. He would always be singing somebody’s song. As a hip-hop historian being born when hip hop was invented, you always were able to hear some remnants of previous rap artists. This guy, I don’t know where he came from, but his cadence, his rhythms, with his sound, with his approach, with his confidence – you have no origins for what planet, what rap planet, this guy came from.”

As it turns out, Biggie’s love of R&B came from the music he listened to growing up. His mother was a huge fan of country-western and ballads. It’s also revealed in the documentary that Biggie could only fall asleep to the sound of country-western music. 

Biggie released two history-making hip-hop albums – one was before his death

The Brooklyn-born rapper died tragically at the age of 24. His first album, Ready to Die, was released when he was just 21-years-old. The debut peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard 200 chart. His lyrics were critically acclaimed, with many notating his story-telling ability.

The album spawned three singles: “Juicy,” “Big Poppa,” and “One More Chance.” “Big Poppa” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 1996 Grammy Awards.

Source: YouTube

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His follow-up album, Life After Death, was released just two weeks after his murder. At the time of its release, it made the largest jump to number one on the Billboard 200 chart in history, jumping from the 176th spot to number one in one week.

It received multiple Grammy Award nominations, including Best Rap Album, Best Rap Solo Performance for the lead single “Hypnotize”, and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for its second single “Mo Money Mo Problems.” Rolling Stone Magazine listed the albums as “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” in 2012.