Biggie,, Biggie, can't you see....?

root - Posted on 24 June 2009

ReVieWsforTheReVolUtion reviews Notorius

by Marlon Crump

"Biggie Biggie Biggie can't you see."

"Sometimes your words just hypnotize me."

"And I just love your flashy ways."

"Guess that's why they broke, and you're so paid.

(Lyrics from legendary rapper, Christopher Wallace a.k.a, The Notorious B.I.G in his hit single "Hypnotize" from his 1997 album, "Life After Death."

The mid-1990s, found the entire rap and hip hop world being divided between the fame, rivalry, and media exploitation(s) of two leading legendary rap artists on two different coasts, with two rap names, two death similarities, both with one youth group of proteges, with one goal in mind:

Making it big. (No pun intended.)

They accomplished this goal (even after their untimely deaths.) by using their vibrant verbal ability into the art of rap.

One of those legendary rap artists was Christopher Wallace, a.k.a "Notorious B.I.G" also known as "Biggie Smalls." On Friday January 16th, 2009 found hip hop fans (including myself) storming to movie theaters, nationwide to catch the motion picture film premiere of "Notorious."

Notorious is about the life of Christopher Wallace and his road to becoming the legendary rapper, "Notorious B.I.G" a.k.a "Biggie Smalls."

It briefly narrates his childhood experience, his dis-interest from having any further interests of high school, his open arms to the drug dealing, the life leisures that motivated him, running from the common cop on the block, brief incarcerations, bearing a daughter, marriage, his ultimate rise to the top of rap fame in the rap game (industry), until his fall from grace into unknown gunfire, are all wrapped up into this film.

Violetta Wallace, (mother of Biggie Smalls) and Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs (founder of Bad Boy Records.) helped produced "Notorious" during its October 2007 casting call for the movie production.

"Do or die Bedsty."

Bedford-Stuyvesant is the section of Brooklyn, New York where Christopher Wallace (played by Jamal Woolard, a real life Brooklyn based rapper.) was born and raised. My ears snatched these words, as they boomed into movie audience, alongside of the sound quality of "surround sound" that deafened people's ears, in addition.

The movie begins with Biggie's death, on March 9th, 1997. Biggie, his friends, and other artists of the record company called Bad Boy, are planning to attend an after-party hosted by Vibe Magazine and Qwest Records, in Los Angeles. While the sounds of their happiness could be heard distinctively as they drive along an intersection, the sound of a car pulling up to Biggie's, with a gun, a single shot, then Biggie's head jerking sideways were heard up close.

Woolard narrates throughout the entire film, of his character portrayal's life story, beginning with Wallace's childhood, and the cruel comments made by a couple of girls at him because of his large weight size and unattractive looks. Though saddened by these remarks, Young Christopher Wallace (played by the actual real Christopher Wallace Jr, Biggie Smalls son.) turns his attention toward writing rap lyrics on his notepad, and practices rapping the lyrics, aloud.

"$100, is that all he's worth to you?" scowls Violetta Wallace, in a scene (played by actress, Angela Basset) to the father of their son. After the father leaves, Miss Wallace comforts Christopher and assures him that she would take care of him, no matter what.

The movie accelerates into scenes where Christopher longs for the finer things in life, as he began to view the world around him. Young men like him were wearing expensive clothing, coats, jewelry, shoes, etc, immediately enticed him into wanting to make big dollars, which found him on the neighborhood block selling drugs.

He ignores the pleas/warnings/face slaps from his mother to stop his criminal activity in the streets. In school, Christopher solves a seemingly-difficult algebra math problem, at the surprise of his teacher, then clowns him when he does a math problem of his own, on the blackboard.

After Christopher does a comparison between the difference between what he, a professional worker and than the other would make on their salary; Christopher subtracts the problem and gave his sarcastic thought to the answer: "I'd be making $4,000 more than his dumbass!" The classroom erupts in laughter, while the teacher erupted with anger telling Christopher to leave.

When Christopher gets busted, his mother refuses to bail him out of jail. Along with administering "tough love" she asks him to recite the Bible verse, "Yay though I walk through the shadow of death......" Those words seemed to echo at Christopher, causing him to read more verses to the Bible, as well as commit to improvements towards writing down his lyric skills as he lay in his jail cell.

Christopher finds himself in a rap confrontation competition with a well-known neighborhood rapper. Proving that he was worthy of being the future "Greatest Rapper of all time" Christopher's words swiftly spit out like rapid ammo from an AK-47, resulting in his opponent's rap beat defeat much to the delight of the onlookers on the street.

After a second arrest occurrence for illegal possession of a firearm, Christopher is arrested along with his friend, D-Roc. D-Roc takes the blame for Christopher because he sees his ability to one day become successful. "If you make it, we ALL make it!"

Notorious shows the women in Biggie's life. Jan, mother of Christopher's first child, T'yanna his sexual relationship and verbal assaults to rapper and female vocal artist of Bad Boy Records, Lil Kim (played by Naturi Naughton), and his marriage to R&B singer Faith Evans.

"Don't chase the paper, chase the dream!"
(Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs to Biggie."

Notorious mildly shows the intimate relationship between Christopher Wallace and Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs (played by Derek Luke). Their first encounter begins with a bit of uncertainty because Combs is concerned about Christopher's "steady income", and how he gets it.

Despite the barriers that gets thrown in their face, such as Combs getting fired from Uptown Records A&R, Christopher's mom diagnosed with breast cancer, and his depression; they both finally make the big time after Combs establishes his own record label, which came to be Bad Boy Records, along with the big success of Biggie's "Ready to Die" album, where he quickly shot to the top of the music charts, and appeared on many big named magazines publications.

It is here where Christopher Wallace truly becomes the Notorious B.I.G, a.k.a Biggie Smalls to the world.

As I continued watching the film, the most anticipated scene I awaited in Notorious arrived: Biggie Smalls and his friendship-turned-rivalry with another legendary rapper, Tupac Shakur!

I think that it was here when I believe people's excitement began to rise onto movie theaters everywhere, and not just in the movie theater that I was in, in anticipation of this film's depiction of the feud between these legendary rap artists that fueled the"East Coast vs West Coast" rap war phenomenon.

Those that might have been sleeping, going back and forth to the bathroom, or making out with their girlfriend became immediately attentive in this scene and the ones that followed, throughout the film.

Even just from the film's depiction of Biggie and Pac's relationship and rivalries on the big screen, raised some emotions for survivors, members, and observers of the "East Coast vs West Coast" rap war, which died (or at least died) down down when its rap lyric leaders died.

Tupac Shakur a.k.a 2Pac (played by Anthony Mackie) is already well-known in the rap and movie industry. For a few short scenes, and occasions, Shakur and Biggie talk about how much admirations they have for each others success. It was almost hard to believe how these two rap titans would become mortal enemies.

Although Tupac believed and contended even to his death that Biggie and Puff Daddy had prior knowledge as to the information of the man that robbed and shot him, as he entered the lobby of Quad Recording Studios, in Manhattan, New York; Biggie and Puffy always denied Pac's accusations.

From the "Notorious" version of that event, Biggie questions Tupac of how well he knew of the man that was hanging around him, who wore army fatigue. Tupac said he was cool, but Biggie felt otherwise.

I felt the surround sound in the movie grow louder indicating something intense was getting ready to happen in the next scene, where Pac was shot in the 1994 New York robbery shooting.

Lil Cease, Biggie's cousin (member of Bad Boy's Junior M.A.F.I.A and Biggie's protege rap youth group.) happily greets Pac from the rooftops, and Pac returns the same love.

The scenes of Lil Cease going back downstairs via elevator, hearing shots ring out, having a gun and and an angry voice instructing him to get back on the elevator, Biggie being informed of the commotion by Lil Cease, Biggie grabbing his gun to investigate, N.Y.P.D Police members appear brandishing their own firearms, became the emotional embodiment for everyone worldwide that loved Tupac in what took place next.

"Which one of ya'll motherf@#%% shot me?! Ya'll motherf!@# set me up!!" Tupac screams, as he struggled from his bullet-wounds to get to his feet, and as he struggled to light his cigarette in front of a crowd of onlookers. Puffy comes to his aid, but Pac screams at him to get away from him.

It was at this moment where the rap war of "East Coast vs West Coast"is born. One thing that I noticed from this entire situation was that corporate mainstream media IMMEDIATELY seized the advantage to perpetuate the so-called "Black on Black." (A derogatory term by media in defining the homicidal deaths between young African Descent men.)

Rather than give exposure to the onetime friendship of these two talented rap artists and performers; corporate media hyped, elevated, and exploited the rivalry to further encourage even more violence in communities of color, by a way of competition.

Media furthermore blatantly refused to view and acknowledge them as two multi-talented artists with a feud, to justify its negative definition of rap/hip hop as being nothing more than "gangsta rap" in their campaign to destroy a cultural art.

From that time on, from the 1994 Tupac shooting, his release from jail on a sexual assault conviction after being bailed out by Death Row Records co-founder, Marian "Suge" Knight (played by Sean Ringgold), Pac and Biggie were verbally vicious at each other throats, by ways of hit song singles, music events, and even television onstage appearances. (One of those was the 1995 Source Awards.)

"So I f@#$$ your bitch
You fat mutha-@@#$ {Take Money}

West Side

Bad Boy Killers {Take Money}

You know who the realist is
Ni@@# we bring it to {Take Money}

[ha ha, that's alright]"


Lyrics from 2Pac's hit single, "Hit Em Up!" This song attacks Biggie, and Bad Boy. Pac boasts that he had a sexual intimate encounter with Biggie's wife, Faith Evans.

"Who shot ya?"

West coast mother@#$s...

West coast mother@#$%s... hah!

As we proceed, to give you what you need

As we proceed
to give you what you need

Get live mother@#$%s

9 to 5 mother!@#$#$s

Get money mother@#$%s"

Lyrics from hit single by Biggie Smalls, "Who shot ya?" from his 1994 album, "Ready to Die." 2Pac, Suge Knight, and many fans believe this was a subliminal diss (attack) by Biggie following the 1994 New York shooting, but Biggie and Puffy deny these allegations.

Notorious began to come to a close with the shooting deaths of 2Pac on September 7th, 1996 and the death of Biggie Smalls, six months later on March 9th, 1997. Biggie finds hardship in dealing with the shocking death of 2Pac, his dying relationship with his friend, Lil Kim and wife Faith Evans.

"I'm going, going.

Back, back

to Cali, Cali."

Lyrics From the Biggie Smalls hit single, "Going back to Cali" off of his 1997 album, "Life After Death."

Just the way "Notorious" started, is the way it ended. Though Biggie found himself in a car accident, life flashbacks, telling his daughter to never let a man disrespect her by calling her a "bitch" or his ignoring the constant death threats he received, or the pleas from his own mother to not to go to Los Angeles; Biggie was determined to move forward with his rap career.

Biggie says "We're in L.A, I want to give it all back, and "I felt that on this night, God was giving me a clean slate."All I could hear was that same surround sound level quality in the movie that alerted you when something bad was going to happened.

In the remarkable similar scenario as his hip hop rival 2Pac had encountered just six months before, Biggie is tragically felled by bullets, unknown, probably never even hearing the first shot.

All could be heard next, is the distinct yells, pleas, and cries for help as his friends of Bad Boy rush him to a nearby hospital, and the sound of his signature dark brimmed top hat hitting that dark deserted intersection of L.A.

After Puff Daddy asks Violetta Wallace if there was anything he could ever do for her during Biggie's funeral, her eyes met his, still clouded with her tears.

"I just want to take my son home."

In that, she returned his body to his birthplace where she and her son were quickly greeted with a hero's welcome. The sounds of "Hypnotize" could be heard among the deafening cheers of the massive fans that suffocated her and her son, Biggie Smalls.

Notorious is not only just a film about a legendary rapper, but it is also a film that exposes struggles for every young man of color everywhere to climb out of poverty, and many wanting to be rich.

It reveals their struggles to be seen and heard while trying to earn a shot in the hip hop spotlight, the extra-barriers and hurdles thrown their way, their combat against the coverages perpetuated by media's racist stereotypes, their engaging or resisting temptations that will corrupt their careers, and their prayer to Almighty God that they live to continue on with their work.


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