Notorious B.I.G.’s ‘Ready to Die’ Gets a Deep Dive in ‘Birth of Biggie’ Mini-Documentary

Following its excellent Beastie Boys “Still Ill” mini-documentary, Amazon Music has released The Birth of Biggie: 25 Years of Ready to Die in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Notorious B.I.G.’s blockbuster 1994 debut album, “Ready To Die.”

While this mini-doc obviously doesn’t have the same level of access that its predecessor did — its subject died 22 years ago — it has a similar tight focus on a specific era and an emphasis on people who were actually with Big at the beginning of his professional career. In it, we hear from “Ready to Die” producers Easy Mo Bee and DJ Mister Cee, former Bad Boy/Arista Records promotion SVP Rob Stone (now co-CEO of Cornerstone Agency) and biographer Cheo Hodari Coker, as well as rare archival audio interviews with the late rapper himself. (While usual suspects like Diddy, Big’s mom and others are not featured in the doc, they’ve spoken their piece in several other documentaries and probably would not have had much new to say.)

Similar to the way the Beastie Boys doc focused on the group’s five-year creative peak, this one zooms in on the period between when Big was transitioning from underground buzz to being discovered by Diddy (a.k.a. Puff Daddy), which led to his record deal with Bad Boy, and the recording of the classic album that made his reputation as one of the greatest rappers of all time.

“When Puff heard me, he got me to the office,” Big says in the doc. “He was like, ‘Yo Money, this is a serious thing. You need to come up here. I’m really ready to sign you for some big money.’ Came down, let’s sign me, let’s put me to work.”

(Also in celebration of the album’s 25th anniversary, Rhino and GetOnDown.com are releasing a limited-edition boxed set that features every album track – plus two bonus tracks, “Who Shot Ya”?” and “Just Playing (Dreams)” – on nine 7” colored-vinyl singles.)

The producers and Coker also talk about the album’s deft balance of hard, hard street tracks and sweeter songs like “Juicy” and “Big Poppa,” as well as the true meaning behind its ominous title, “Ready to Die.”

There is also a companion long-form audio documentary of the same name, available only on Amazon Music and available to Prime members, which is a deeper dive with longer interviews. What are you waiting for? Check that out here and watch the video below.



Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Elite Season 2

    San Sebastian: Spain’s SVOD Players Debate Competition, Brand, Talent

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — Executives from HBO, Netflix, Amazon and Movistar+ and “Elite” co-creator Darío Madrona took to the stage to field questions on the Global Impact of Spanish Series. Here, briefly, are five takeaways: 1.Spain First Related Amazon Music Unveils HD: the ‘Highest Quality Audio’ for Streaming Spotify Dismisses Amazon’s High-Definition Audio: ‘It’s Not a [...]

  • Tinder - Swipe Night

    Tinder's Apocalyptic 'Swipe Night' Interactive Dating Show Sets Release Date

    Tinder next month will bow its first original entertainment content — “Swipe Night,” an interactive adventure series in which viewers are forced to make dating choices on humanity’s last night on Earth. Variety previously reported details of the location-based social network/dating app service’s foray into original content, which recently wrapped production in Mexico City and [...]

  • Editorial Use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    YouTube Rolls Back Verification Changes, Says Verified Creators Can Keep Their Badge

    A day after announcing significant changes to its verification program, YouTube announced Friday afternoon that it won’t be de-verifying existing creators after all. “We heard loud and clear how much the badge means to you,” said YouTube product manager Jonathan McPhie in a blog post. “Channels that already have the verification badge will now keep it [...]

  • BLive: BitTorrent Live Streaming App to

    BitTorrent to Launch Public Beta of New Live Streaming App

    BitTorrent is getting ready to open the floodgates for its new live streaming app, dubbed BitTorrent Live: The company plans to launch a BitTorrent Live Android app on various app stores as part of a public beta test late Friday, according to a spokesperson. BitTorrent Live, which is also known as BLive, is being described [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Stock Drops After CEO Acknowledges 'Tough Competition' Coming From Disney, Apple

    Netflix shares fell as much as 7% Friday to a nine-month low, coming after CEO Reed Hastings commented that the November launches of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus will introduce a “whole new world” of competition. Hastings, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference Friday in Cambridge, England, said, “While we’ve been competing with [...]

  • Facebook

    Facebook Suspends Tens of Thousands of Apps During Privacy Investigation

    Facebook has suspended tens of thousands of apps ever since it began investigating potential privacy abuses, the company said Friday. The apps in question had been built by around 400 developers, and a suspension doesn’t necessarily indicate actual privacy violations. Facebook began combing through millions of apps that made use of its platform after the [...]

  • tivo logo

    Tivo Plans to Launch Android TV Dongle, Tivo+ Curation App

    DVR maker Tivo is getting ready to release a new device that may not record television at all: The company plans to launch a $50 Roku-like TV dongle early next year, its new CEO Dave Shull revealed in a conversation with CNN this week. The new device will be powered by Google’s Android TV platform, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content