Notorious B.I.G. in the Limelight in Metaverse VR Concert Experience

The virtual performance from a digital recreation of the late rapper was an impressive showcase of technology.

AccessTimeIconDec 19, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Dec 19, 2022 at 4:13 p.m. UTC
AccessTimeIconDec 19, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. UTCUpdated Dec 19, 2022 at 4:13 p.m. UTC
AccessTimeIconDec 19, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. UTCUpdated Dec 19, 2022 at 4:13 p.m. UTC

The spirit of Notorious B.I.G. was resurrected in the metaverse on Friday night, transporting thousands of attendees to a virtual recreation of 1990s Brooklyn, N.Y., for a performance that transcended space and time.

As a native New Yorker and old-school hip-hop fan, my heart swelled when a hyper-realistic digital form of the late rapper in a red velvet tracksuit appeared inside Meta Horizon Worlds, a virtual world experienced through the Meta Quest virtual reality (VR) headset. The immersive concert experience also included a narrative journey through Biggie's – who was born Christopher Wallace – early life and featured guest performances by Sean “Diddy” Combs, The Lox, Latto, Nardo Wick and Lil’ Cease.

The experience was simultaneously broadcast live on the Notorious B.I.G.'s Facebook page, which I was able to view from my laptop. In addition, I used a Meta Quest headset to enter Horizon Worlds to gain access to the full, sensory-laden experience.

In Horizon Worlds, there were about 120 floating avatars gathered in a lifelike concert venue, tuning in from their virtual reality headsets. It was incredible to experience 360 degrees of sights and sounds, though I found the quick movements and flashing lights to be slightly disorienting and was glad to have the ability to watch a recording of the performance, which has since racked up about 68,000 views.

The iteration of Notorious B.I.G. that performed was created by Hyperreal, a digital tech company that is powering "high fidelity, emotionally real digital twins" of celebrities, as well as creating immersive virtual environments using VFX technology. "We started Hyperreal to disrupt the industry and create a new business model for digital humans," said Remington Scott, CEO of Hyperreal, who has a long history of pioneering use cases for motion capture technology.

About 20 minutes into the experience, Notorious B.I.G. took to the virtual stage, performing classics including "Juicy," "Big Poppa" and "Warning." Audible cheers from the audience and a deluge of heart emojis sent in the Facebook chat highlighted the overwhelmingly positive reception to the performance.

Screenshot from The Notorious B.I.G Sky's the Limit: A VR Concert Experience (Meta Horizon Worlds)
Screenshot from The Notorious B.I.G Sky's the Limit: A VR Concert Experience (Meta Horizon Worlds)

The graphics were impressively realistic, though at times the movements of celebrity guests like Diddy felt static and misaligned, reminding viewers that they were, in fact, not real. Accompanied by a full band, the experience still felt rich and even small details like hand gestures, shadows and wrinkles on clothing were carefully considered.

Scott told CoinDesk that Hyperreal teamed up with Voletta Wallace, Biggie's mother, and others who oversee his estate to bring his likeness back to the stage. "We're creating a digital human that is not just a hologram," he said of what led them to virtually resurrect the artist, who was killed in Los Angeles in 1997 at the age of 24.

"For the last two years, we've been doing tests with the estate, seeing how [the digital Notorious B.I.G.] moves and performs and how real we could get the experience," he said.

Several celebrities, including Paul McCartney and Madison Beer, have used Hyperreal to turn their likeness into virtual characters and extend the parameters of their career as the world becomes increasingly digital. "We're building digital identities for celebrity talent that they own, they can monetize and they control the copyrights," Scott said. "They use these talents, these Hyperreal models, as an interoperable asset across all digital ecosystems."

Visual effects were also used to bring the late rapper Tupac on stage as a hologram at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2012, though some critics at the time called the performance "unnerving." In addition, Tupac's holographic appearance raised questions about the ethics of creating lifelike personas modeled after deceased celebrities.

Scott pushed back at criticism, saying that Hyperreal worked closely with Notorious B.I.G.'s estate and others that knew him intimately.

Ultimately, Scott said that the Meta Horizon Worlds concert experience allowed them to do things that would otherwise not be possible. "I think it's a fascinating concept," he said, "to be able to go back in time, using the metaverse as a time machine."

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

Rosie Perper

Rosie Perper was the Deputy Managing Editor for Web3 and Learn, focusing on the metaverse, NFTs, DAOs and emerging technology like VR/AR. She has previously worked across breaking news, global finance, tech, culture and business. She holds a small amount of BTC and ETH and several NFTs. Subscribe to her weekly newsletter, The Airdrop.

Read more about