A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Music and lyrics can be used to express the personal and universal. Finding one's passion and talent in life, and how working hard to develop that talent can lead to success. An adult mentor can positively influence a young person's worldview. The importance of loyalty to friends.
Positive Role Models
While not a role model in the typical sense, Christopher Wallace used his words to express what he experienced on the streets of Brooklyn, applied his talents through hard work and dedication, and found a way out of what may have been a life of crime. As a teacher and immigrant from Jamaica, his mother did her best to provide for him. A jazz musician down the street took Wallace under his wing while he was a tween, and gave him advice and world-expanding inspiration that he'd later apply to his music.
Violence & Scariness
Archival news footage of drug-related killings in Brooklyn. Archival news footage of the killing of Christopher Wallace, with bullet holes in the vehicle he was riding in when he was shot and killed. Talk of the killing of Tupac Shakur. Suicide, gun violence in Wallace's lyrics.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
In home video footage, an enthusiastic fan of Wallace's shouts from outside the limo that she wants to "f--k" him.
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Constant profanity. "F--k," "motherf---er," "N" word frequently used. Also: "bulls--t," "s--t," "c--ksucker," "p---y," "ass," "bastard." Middle finger gesture.
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Products & Purchases
Movie discusses Wallace's influential albums and how they changed hip-hop.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Marijuana smoking, cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell is a 2021 documentary that celebrates the life and music of one of the true icons of hip-hop music. Expect a lot of profanity throughout, including "f--k," "motherf---er," and the "N" word. Much of the movie is taken from old home videos, and show The Notorious B.I.G., neé Chris Wallace, and friends smoking marijuana and drinking. Various tracks from Biggie's career are played throughout the movie, including songs that talk about gun violence, and one song in which Biggie raps about how his problems are driving him to consider suicide. Talk of crack cocaine dealing. Archival news footage shows coverage of homicides and drug-related violence in and around where Biggie grew up in Brooklyn. Archival news footage covers the killings of Biggie and Tupac Shakur. In home video footage, an enthusiastic fan of Wallace's shouts from outside the limo that she wants to "f--k" him. While not a positive role model in the traditional sense of the term, Chris Wallace, with the help of a local jazz musician who acted as his mentor, found a way, through hard work, to go beyond the tough streets where he grew up and developed a unique rap style and spoke honestly of the problems he faced in his life, inspiring millions. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
It's refreshing to see a music documentary on The Notorious B.I.G. that doesn't spend so much time on his demise. Instead, with Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell, the viewer sees a celebration of his life and art, one that seeks to find the truth behind the legends of this iconic and innovative hip-hop artist. Bookended by footage of his funeral, as thousands turned out in the streets of Brooklyn to celebrate his life and music, Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell intersperses home camera footage from friend and collaborator Damion "D-Roc" Butler and interviews with Biggie's (neé Chris Wallace's) mother, longtime friends, and musical collaborators. The portrait that emerges is of a gifted and charismatic young man who could've easily gone in the wrong direction through hustling crack cocaine on the rough streets around his neighborhood, but found through hip-hop music a way to express what he experienced, inspiring millions.
You don't have to be the biggest Notorious B.I.G., or even the biggest hip-hop, fan to enjoy this documentary. It's a fascinating story that seems to seamlessly weave Wallace's childhood, tween, and teen years with the home movie footage, interviews, and archival news footage from the late 1980s and early 1990s. And while time must be spent on the East Coast/West Coast rivalry and the events that transpired that lead to Wallace's untimely death, the movie often feels more like an unsentimental tribute and celebration of his life and music. Indeed, it's a documentary of an artist who found inspiration from his neighborhood, but also in visiting his mother's family in Jamaica and learning about Pablo Picasso and Max Roach from a jazz musician mentor who lived down the street. For fans and nonfans alike, it's one of the better music documentaries out there.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.