By Chris Crymes
Image courtesy of Netflix
Christopher Wallace, or better known as his stage persona: the Notorious B.I.G., might be the 90’s most recognizable figurehead So recognizable in fact, the rapper has almost become a superhero character, meaning most everyone can instantly recognize his voice and face. However, not nearly as many take the dive into the artist’s past behind his music. If you fall into that category, then “Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell” can provide some well done, heartfelt insight to the 90s-rap legend’s tragically short life and career.
This new Netflix original documentary’s strongest aspect is a boatload of unreleased footage from Damion, “D Roc,” Butler’s personal archives. Biggie’s lifelong friend, Butler had the ingenious insight to begin chronicling every possible moment with Wallace throughout their rise from selling hard drugs to stardom. These tapes’ scanlines, content and grit provided by the tapes’ scanlines enforce realness to the documentary.
These snapshots help transform Biggie’s life from legend to genuine, real-life tragedy. This realness comes in handy for those who have heard Wallace’s story before but never let it sink in.
Said feeling and emotion is fully brought home in the interviews. Personal friends like Sean, “P. Diddy,” Combs account their devoted connections to the concealed intelligence of the rapper. These interviews also include Wallace’s mother and others who have a deeply intimate memory of their time with Wallace, and these are some heart wrenchingly earnest accounts. As a fan of the man and his music, several of the final quotes and footage brought tears to my eyes, especially hearing his mother stoically remember riding through Brooklyn neighborhoods the day of her son’s funeral.
The only thing to complain about from the documentary is it doesn’t bring much new information to the table for Biggie historians. But Biggie is so shrouded in mystery; a straightforward celebration of the man can do wonders for the ever-expanding hip-hop community and inspire more back into rap’s hallowed origins.
This doc is a fantastic starting point for those soon-to-be fans, plus this is an incredibly well done chronicle for those who know most of the facts. The film blends crisp, digitally shot footage of the interviewees with the original VHS tape to create a visually interesting juxtaposition to easily transport you from present to past and vice versa.
If finding out the origin of a 9’s hip-hop icon, check out “Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell” on Netflix today.