Before the opening credits, “Biggie: I Have a Story to Tell” already features images of mourners at the funeral of one of the best rappers of his generation. My initial concern was that we would then see another dissection of Christopher Wallace’s death, a dissection that has circulated as many conspiracy theories as JFK in recent years. Cleverly, Malloy eschews retreading on this ground and focuses on ascending Wallace from the streets of New York to the world’s biggest stages. To his credit, Malloy has landed time with most of the main actors in this story, including Combs, Evans, and Voletta Wallace, Christopher’s single mother and as formative an influence in his life as anyone.
He also relies heavily on archival footage of a young Wallace essentially becoming The Notorious BIG, performing shows as a young man and fighting while rapping on the streets. It’s amazing how much his gift was there at such a young age, and the doc’s highlight is when Malloy interconnects a jazz drummer with a Wallace rap to show how much he has been influenced by these. rhythms. I could just watch old BIG gig footage for 90 minutes, but Malloy makes the mistake of cutting it too often with talking head sound clips that don’t really say as much as the raw man talent that comes from. see play. It’s not an insult to any of these people, but their interviews have been over-cut into sound clips that seem superficial. We have a palpable feeling that they all really knew and loved Christopher, so why does so much of what they say seem too scripted?
“Biggie: I Have a Story to Tell” also suffers from the way it superficially touches on topics that have been explored more in depth in other projects. Take how much Wallace said everyone around him was family. He bragged about them in raps and probably would have turned them into stars. The idea that Junior MAFIA didn’t even know Biggie was referring to them the first time he mentioned his new name to the friends around him on stage is hysterical. He didn’t just want to be a star – he wanted to bring everyone he cared about with him on his rise. But “Biggie” is moving quickly before really digging into how the concept of community has influenced his personality and his art.
Ultimately, I wanted a rawer, more passionate version of “Biggie: I’ve Got a Story to Tell” that reflects its subject matter instead of the numbered nature of it. If there’s anyone who wasn’t in the numbers, it’s Biggie. But we already knew that.
Now available on Netflix.