Earlier today I took some time to check out the newly released movie about the great rapper, Notorious B.I.G. For those that aren’t familiar, Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls was a rapper that came to glory in the late 90’s and was killed at the age of 24 in 1997. He was the protege of Diddy (who was Puffy or Puff Daddy back then) and one of the early artists signed to Bad Boy Records.
Notorious starts in the 80’s with Christopher Wallace (Biggie Smalls) as a kid in elementary school in the Bed stuy area of Brooklyn, NY. He is attending a private school and you can tell that his mom placed a lot of emphasis on education. The movie moves through his life and shows how he was lured into the street life becoming a drug dealer while in elementary school. By the time he was 17, he was making lots of money and living the high life. The movie goes on to chronicle how he was introduced to Diddy, who was working at Uptown Records at the time, and subsequently became known as one of the greatest rappers of all time at the ripe old age of 24.
I have never been a hard core hip hop fan. In fact, I gave away my copy of Biggie’s first album, Ready to Die, because I just wasn’t feeling it at the time. I do still have the copy of his second project, Life After Death, that I liked a lot more. In spite of me not being a hard core hip hop fan, I do work in the music industry and I have a lot of respect for hip hop. I am a fan of the way that some rappers are able to use words to create a picture. Biggie was very good at doing that. Initially he created vivid pictures of his life growing up in Brooklyn and being on the block. As he grew, he began to paint pictures of his life as a superstar recording artist, living the good life. I appreciate him for that.
The movie was really good. I think the actors all held their own and the guy playing Biggie, Jamal Woolard, really morphed into the late rapper. I could tell he really studied his movements, rap style, voice and even his different personas. As an artist, Christopher Wallace had to wear different faces. Jamal was able to successfully move between Christopher Wallace, Biggie Smalls and Notorious B.I.G. There were even times when I felt like I was looking at Biggie himself but not in an eerie way. Jamal did a wonderful tribute to a guy that was extremely multifaceted.
Some people saw Biggie as simply a drug dealer turned rapper but he was also a man, son, father and friend. I think the movie humanized him. It did a great job of showing the different aspects of him as a person and making him more real. Before I saw the movie, I only saw him as a superstar that was taken away before he got to truly realize his talents and abilities. Now that I’ve seen the movie, I can better empathize with his family and friends. I got to a glimpse into his relationship with Diddy (Puffy) and how close they truly were as well as his tumultuous relationships with Faith and Lil Kim.
I recommend this movie to anyone. If you are a fan of hip hop, I definitely think you should check this out. If you are curious about the music industry and how things can go sometimes, you should check it out. In a nutshell, I give this movie four out of five stars. I wish the movie had focused on at least one of his relationships more and gone more into it. From what I saw, Biggie was fiercely loyal and loved hard. I would have liked to see that explored with at least one of the people closest to him. Overall, it was a good movie. Go check it out.