Big news broke just before last weekend that The Notorious B.I.G. surpassed 6 billion - yes, with a B! - music streams around the world. That's no small feat, but we'd expect nothing less from the late Brooklyn legend, whose story and art continues to captivate new fans every day (see the new documentary for proof).
In honor of this major milestone, we thought we'd look at five of his most-streamed songs. Most of them are the hits you'll know, but there might be a surprise in here or two!
"That Brooklyn bullshit, we on it..." Life After Death's lead single, built off a riff from Herb Alpert's chart-topping "Rise," was one of the year's biggest summer jams, brimming with Biggie boasts in that inimitable as only he could spit them. As a No. 1 hit, it's no surprise to hear it's still got legs, well past half a billion on Spotify alone.
The song that started it all is Biggie's second-most popular streaming tune. It's the ultimate rags to riches story: Brooklyn ferocity from streetcorners to suites, over a monster beat built from Mtume's classic "Juicy Fruit." It's almost a surprise that this isn't his top-played track - but maybe that's just our bias kicking in.
Big knew how to love 'em, and this classic flip of an immortal bedroom jam (The Isley Brothers' "Between the Sheets") became his first platinum single, reaching No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and solidifying Ready to Die as a generation-defining classic.
"Old Thing Back"
The surest sign of Big's worldwide reach is this surprising track: a summery production from a Norwegian DJ named Matoma, built off a track called "Want That Old Thing Back," which was itself built from classic cut "One More Chance" and originally released on Biggie's Greatest Hits in 2007 with guest vocals from Ja Rule and Ralph Tresvant. This surprise Hype Machine hit was officially released in 2015 and remains one of the rapper's most popular streaming features.
"Mo Money, Mo Problems"
Biggie doesn't show up until the last verse of Life After Death's second chart-topper (built off Diana Ross' triumphant "I'm Coming Out," and indeed, it was initially slated to go to either Ma$e or Puff Daddy's upcoming albums. Co-producer Stevie J told XXL about the moment that changed. "Ma$e came to me in the studio one day with this 'I’m Coming Out' sample," he said. "So we laid the track first but nobody knew who was gonna get it. And then when Big came with the “B-I-G P-O-P-P-A!” What!? That was Big’s joint. Everybody felt that." Hundreds of millions of plays later, everybody still does.