Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G. Review

Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G. - Poster

It’s been twenty long years since we lost The Notorious B.I.G. To this day, his presence still looms large over the entire hip-hop landscape. Although there have been several documentaries and a film (Notorious) about his life,  there really hasn’t been an authorized documentary about the legendary rapper… Until now. But does Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G. provide fans with the intimate inside look that they’ve been yearning for?

Yes, it does. With a delightful mix of archival footage, interviews, and songs from his catalog, Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G. is the definitive documentary about The Notorious B.I.G.

Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G. - Christopher Wallace

Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G. provides details and depth on the life of an artist whose story hasn’t been as explored as other musicians. Even though it does take a while to find its legs at the beginning of the film. There are several scenes, although interesting, that run a little longer than it should. However, once it reaches the point of the East Coast/West Coast feud then that’s where the documentary really takes off. After all, the key to any successful documentary is to educate the audience on things they might not know about.

For the most part, Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G. is successful in that department. We’ve seen several films cover Biggie’s early days. Yet it’s this film that gives audiences a different perspective on the public rivalry between Death Row and Bad Boy Records.

As someone who grew up on the West Coast, the entire Death Row squad were the good guys. However, this documentary gives us West Coasters an idea of what the war was like through Biggie’s eyes. Needless to say, it’s surprising to see that the beef between these two record giants primarily coming from the Death Row side.

Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G. - The Notorious B.I.G.. and 2Pac

Ultimately, it’s kind of heartbreaking to see a gentle soul like Biggie die in the way that he did. I have a tremendous respect for how he wanted to defuse the war before things turn ugly. In addition, it also sheds light on 2Pac’s shady actions against him as well. For this reason, it makes me dislike 2Pac a little bit but makes me like Biggie significantly more.

Not to mention, the stories from Biggie’s friends and family are simply just fascinating to listen to. You get a sense of the kind of funny, gentle, and supportive person he really was. Also, the interviews from Biggie’s closest friends and family provide the documentary with some deeply personal stories. Additionally, rap legends such as DJ 50 Grand, Mister Cee, Nas, and Jay-Z deconstruct Biggie’s rap career. Then there’s Voletta Wallace, Biggie Smalls’ loving mother. Whenever she speaks, you can tell that she’s such an intelligent woman.

In spite of the educational aspect of Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G., the documentary feels a little bland. Especially when you compare it to Allen Hughes’ The Defiant Ones—a documentary that’s full of attitude. Sure, The Life of Notorious B.I.G. has motion graphics that animates Biggie’s lyrics but there’s a swagger that seems to be missing from this documentary. For a documentary about The Notorious B.I.G. then there should be a certain bravado to it.

Overall, Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G. is an intimate look into the life of one of hip-hop’s biggest legends. Audiences will learn a lot about the life and impact of The Notorious B.I.G. You wouldn’t want to watch any other Biggie documentary.

Rating: 4/5 atoms

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1159 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.