Notoriously "B.I.G."

Movie title: Notorious (2009)
Grade: B- (3 stars)
Rated: R
Summation: The rise and fall of rap star Notorious B.I.G.
Spoilers ahead: No


I hate rap music. I despise it, loathe it with a passion. It puts a bad taste in my mouth. I hate all loud music and anything beat-y almost as much. Particularly, I hate any song about "hoes" and "bitches," and people who boast about the violence they inflict and how worthy they are of blow-jobs. I don't know what it is, but I hate seeing a bunch of convicted felons dance around with gold jewelry on, occasionally flapping their arms out from their sides, while know-nothing kids who watch from around the world by the millions think these clowns are cool for doing so.

Oh yeah... did I mention I hate rap? I think I did, but...well...just for the record, I'll say it once more: I hate rap, and usually all that is associated with it. For that reason, you should be surprised when I say I find Notorious a meaningful presentation. That admission says a lot coming from a dried-up naysayer like myself who would just as well say "it's all too black for me" and be done with it.

Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Christopher Wallace), the son of a Jamaican immigrant mother Voletta Wallace (Angela Bassett) and a runaway father, became known as a street rapper in his young days in Brooklyn, New York where his wild ways had him selling crack and butting heads with law enforcement. "God made me clean, but I knew I couldn't stay clean." B.I.G. said.

If, like me, you don't feel clean after hearing the ghetto morals and violent messages of street-hustling found in rap lyrics, just remember to give credit to what lies behind it--word-art. This stuff is clever! What is the focus of the music? It is the struggle to survive on the streets in a world where kids must often join a gang just to get a ride to school. That involves pain and struggle. Pain and struggle I can relate to.

Until his untimely death by assassination at the age of 24, B.I.G. had become a celebrated and quoted figure with his lyrics on the lips of youth all along the east and west coasts, much to the hatred of his rivals.

If you can endure rap stand-offs and some occasional melodrama, a moving story is to be found at the core. Notably strong performances stood out on the parts of Jamal Woolard as B.I.G. and Derek Luke as Sean "Puffy" Combs. Sweetly timed, the pace of the film stays nearly steady, though many scenes are cut to where insufficient drama (build-up) can't be extracted from them.

Having no interest or desire in the subject matter, I was surprised to find myself drawn in and entertained in my viewing experience. Think how it will be received by fans!



Director: George Tillman Jr.
Starring: Jamal Woolard "Christopher 'Biggie' Wallace," Mohamed Dione "Record Executive at Party," Derek Luke "Sean 'Puffy' Combs," Dennis L.A. White "Damion 'D-Roc' Butler," Marc John Jefferies "Lil Cease," Ginger Kroll "Debbie," Ricky Smith "Wally," Christopher Jordan Wallace "Biggie (age 8-13)"
Genre: Biography/Drama/Music


  1. I really enjoyed this film and agree with you 100%; I didn't think I would like it but was very pleased. Wonderful acting and film making make it enjoyable and emotional for anyone who watches it.


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