Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell
Christopher Wallace had a story worth telling. Director Emmett Malloy knows this much about the Brooklynite who would become the Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie Smalls, but then so do the numerous other directors, studios and crews behind the countless other documentaries and films made about a life spanning just shy of 25 years, encompassing poverty, fame, fortune and, ultimately, tragedy. So what does Netflix’s version offer that’s different to its predecessors?
Bigger budget, certainly, and Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell also positions itself as the first estate-approved documentary of the superstar rapper. In spite of that endorsement (or maybe because of it), it doesn’t have much more to add to the rapper’s compelling story. Fans of the hip-hop legend will probably know everything relayed in the film, and find the countless interviews unenlightening. Some interviewees will be particularly familiar to viewers – P Diddy, for example, has spoken at length about both his working relationship and friendship with Biggie Smalls innumerable times. No new information can be extracted from this latest sit-down.
Hearing from Wallace’s family provides the documentary’s greatest insights and intrigue. Voletta Wallace, Wallace’s mother, is a particularly interesting prism through which to follow Christopher’s journey. She (quite obviously) has the most to say about Christopher the man, not just Biggie the rapper. Her interviews offer a genuine peek behind the braggadocio facade.
The streaming giant’s wealth of resources are not wasted here: the documentary has seemingly pulled together the remaining people familiar to Biggie, and Malloy utilises the interviews well, keeping them in tune with the narrative flow of the film, which takes viewers from its tragic end, zipping back to the very start and then going through Biggie’s ephemeral, explosive life. It’s an enthralling, immaculately-made documentary, only it tells a story many viewers may well have heard before.
Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell is released on Netflix on 1st March 2021.
Watch the trailer for Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell here: