‘Notorious’ Movie Review


Growing up, my favorite rapper was Notorious B.I.G. and I had a chance to relive his life story in this film. I’m glad the movie did not come out too much later than it did so as to keep memories of the rap giant relatively in perspective. Outside of some minor details, there wasn’t too much I didn’t already about his life and I was hoping some of the matters would have been probed in more detail. Otherwise, the film did a good job hitting many of the key points in B.I.G.’s life and the music was well placed throughout the movie.

Jamal Woolard did an exceptional job portraying B.I.G. including much of the rapper’s swagger and mannerisms. I had a tough time figuring out if Jamal’s rhymes were authentic or if he was just lip-syncing them – regardless, it looked fairly legit. I was also neat to note that B.I.G.’s actual son played young Biggy early on in the movie. The actress playing Faith Evans also did a great job and her close resemblance to the real deal definitely assisted in relating to the character. This is one element that hurt the portrayals of Puffy and Tupac as I had a tough time ‘believing’ each actor’s representation due to the dissimilarities in looks (I’ve always thought Kobe Bryant had a pretty close resemblance to Tupac).

As the movie went along, it was fairly obvious the story was biased towards B.I.G./East Coast and all matters related to his life (executive production efforts from Puff Daddy, B.I.G.’s mother and Faith Evans may have had something to do with that). Any foul play B.I.G. committed was spinned into a positive light and B.I.G. always seemed to come out in a compassionate manner. The feud with Tupac was even downplayed somewhat to make B.I.G. appear as the innocent victim. Although the facts have never been confirmed, it seemed a bit too simplistic for Bad Boy not to be involved in some way or another of Tupac’s robbery/shooting in NY. Its unfortunate we couldn’t gain any more details/insight on the true happenings of this event among others (murders, Pac/Faith).

I actually think the movie would have been more memorable with cuts to actual footage (outside of the funeral- which probably hit the spot for those who remember the scene). For example, the incident at the 1995 Source Awards would have been much more powerful if the viewer witnessed the real scene illustrating the build up of East/West coast tensions. Another knock I have of the film is the omission of some of the side characters in B.I.G.’s life. A colleague noted that Charlie Baltimore, who was romantically liked to B.I.G., was notably missing from the storyline (did I mention Faith was involved in Production?). I also thought some of the other Bad Boy members (112, Mase, Lox) along with Jay-Z should have been mentioned in some light, at least from the perspective of how B.I.G. positively influenced their music careers.

I would definitely recommend this to those who wish to gain a better understanding of the rapper’s life and for those who already have memories of the late rapper, it will be enjoyable to relive the moments that define the life of ‘Big Poppa’.

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