DVD Review: Notorious

In just a few short years, The Notorious B.I.G. rose from the streets of Brooklyn to become one of the most influential hip hop artists of all time. B.I.G. was a gifted storyteller; his narratives about violent life on the streets were told with a gritty, objective realism that won him enormous respect and credibility. His stories were universal and gave a voice to his generation.

Notorious is a biopic revolving around Christopher Wallace, a Catholic school boy turned drug dealer, who went on to be one of the most famous rappers of all time. The story, which is told in a tasteful way, chronicles his life from age 8, all the way to his tragic death in 1997. Notorious also explains how his close knit friendship with producer Sean “Puffy” Combs was established. You are shown how Tupac Shakur and Biggie started out as friends of sorts, who eventually have a bitter falling out, sadly over a misunderstanding. The two rap icons never got to sort things out before their deaths, due to a rush on gangster rap’s promotion of violence, and the “never back down” mentality.

Notorious BIG may have been one of the first few brilliant minds that pioneered what we know as gangster rap, but he won’t be the last. Hip hop is young and growing rapidly. One very cool thing about this movie is that they casted Biggie’s very own real life son to portray his late father at the ages of 8 – 13.

Being a fan of Notorious BIG’s music for many years now, I was excited to view this film. I was first interested in it about four years ago, when Sylvester Stallone was set to direct it. I think the idea of Rambo directing a movie about a rapper could have flustered me. That ended up not panning out, but probably for the better. The end result with 2008’s Notorious pleased me just fine. It covers all aspects of the Biggie story. It shows his early childhood. Then moves on to show him getting caught up in the drug game. Director Tillman also shed light on how the death of Tupac was not necessarily Biggie’s fault, even though the media took what they assumed and ran with it. To this day, the LAPD hasn’t washed it’s hands of partial guilt, involving the murders of two of the biggest rappers of all time. After seeing films like this and Changeling, it makes you wonder what else the police could be hiding.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film, even though it may not be for everyone.

Review by Charlie Giltenboth

Grade: B+
Official site: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/notorious/
Buy on Amazon: Notorious

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