Reel Reviews | Biggie: I Got A Story To Tell

by Tim Gordon

This documentary features rare footage filmed by Christopher Wallace’s best friend, Damion “D-Roc” Butler, and interviews with his closest friends and family, revealing a side of Biggie Smalls that the world never knew. Featuring in-depth interviews, Biggie: I Got A Story to Tell celebrates the life of The Notorious B.I.G. on his journey from hustler to rap king. Directed by Emmett Malloy and written by Sam Sweet, the documentary features Sean Combs, Faith Evans, Lil’ Cease, Voletta Wallace, and many others.

On March 9, 1997, Christopher Wallace, also known as the Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down while leaving a party in Los Angeles. Over time, B.I.G.’s legend has grown to mythical levels, resulting in a major motion picture, Notorious, and other honors. As we approach the anniversary of his death, which ironically the time he has passed equals the time he spent on this earth, one of his closest friends, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs has orchestrated the release of this new documentary, Biggie: I Got A Story to Tell.

While fans of Biggie are remarkably familiar with his story, this doc pulls back the curtain to give us a more intimate at the rap phenomenon and his humble beginnings. We hear from his closest friends, his relatives in Jamaica, and more importantly from his mother, Voletta. We learn of Christopher’s strict upbringing from his protective mother and his aspiration to begin writing rhymes early in his life. One of the best sequences shows the influence of jazz in his rhymes as he spits a bar while a jazz drummer matches his distinctive cadence. Despite that cool reveal, many of the revelations revealed in the film feel like they are for many who are not as familiar with B.I.G. but not too informative for long-time fans.

There are plenty of pictures, videos, and musings as well as thoughts from Biggie, himself, illustrating just how deep his loss was and still is currently felt from those closest to him.

“If I wasn’t in the rap game / I’d probably have a key, knee-deep in the crack game / Because the streets is a shortstop / Either you’re slingin’ crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot”

Later, his life in the drug game is highlighted by those closest to him. Instead of romanticizing the game, it serves as a means to an end for many enterprising young men. From his life in the streets to his meteoric rise and unfortunate fall, we are there with Biggie every step. Despite the documentary running a mere 77 minutes, as a huge fan of the man and his work, the story was bittersweet not for his loss as an artist, but as a father, a son, a friend and so many other things that he was and would never become.

While we find that Biggie indeed had a story to tell, we’re left with an emptiness that we didn’t get to see him evolve and share more sordid tales from the mind of this brilliant young man whose star shown white-hot yet was extinguished much too soon robbing those closest to him and as well as the fans of his unique voice. It seemed there was a period when Biggie surely seemed Ready to Die but for those who love him there will always be Life After Death for the legacy and life of Christopher Wallace.

Grade: B-

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