Parents' Guide to

Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Comprehensive docu has lots of language, drug use.

Movie R 2021 97 minutes
Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell Poster Image

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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.

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