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Movie Review: Notorious

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I knew how “Notorious” would end, but I wanted to know about the man behind the music. Yes, I’ve watched “Behind the Music” on VH1 on Notorious B.I.G., but I wanted a more in depth look at the life and times of Notorious B.I.G.

Notorious opens up with the tragic night of Notorious B.I.G.’s death in Los Angeles and a montage of events leading up to it. I thought the editing was done well here. The montage was fast and quick.

The beginning takes us to Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1983 when Notorious B.I.G. was known as Christopher Wallace. Wallace was a bright student. Sitting on the steps of his apartment complex, he noticed kids wearing brand new shoes and “dookie” chains (thick gold chains that were worn by rappers from the ’80s).

Later, Wallace leaves the steps of his apartment complex and runs into his childhood friend, “D-Roc”, who shows Wallace how to sell drugs. I remember the cinematography was on point. It gave me the feeling that I was in Brooklyn, N.Y. The view was raw and definitely captured the moment. In a sense, those behind the scenes painted a picture of what Notorious B.I.G. was rapping about in his discography. In fact, his songs played throughout the movie. I remember the crowd reacting to each song and some danced in their seats.

The directors did a superb job highlighting Notorious B.I.G.’s path to stardom. From the times he spent on the street corners selling drugs and rapping to making a demo in his friend’s basement to his love triangles to his untimely death.

I found out how Wallace came up the names Notorious B.I.G. and Biggie Smalls. The names came from the basement of his friend’s house during a freestyle which later turned into a demo. That demo was the beginning of Wallace’s career.

“Notorious” showed us when he first met Sean “Diddy” Combs and how Combs made him stop selling drugs. It showed Combs firing from Uptown Records and the heartbreak of Notorious B.I.G. when he found out.

The relationship between Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur were a major focus in the movie. It showed Shakur as being a mentor to Notorious B.I.G. A miscommunication led to their downfall after neither had the opportunity to clear up the situation. The infamous “West Coast vs. East Coast” rivalry began and on the screen were actual magazine covers that promoted the rivalry.

I loved how the producers shed some light on how the Notorious B.I.G. overcame adversity during two performances. One took place at Howard University’s homecoming in 1992 and the other in Sacramento, Calif. during the infamous feud that took the lives of the Notorious B.I.G. and Shakur.

If there was one complaint about the movie that I have, it would be the lack of effort in Angela Bassett’s performance. Bassett could have done a better job with Voletta Wallace’s (Notorious B.I.G.’s mother) accent. There was no accent. Bassett could have been from anywhere. Voletta Wallace is from Jamaica. A New York accent would have worked too. Bassett had a lot of emotions. That was the only thing going for her.

Overall, I give “Notorious” two T-Wolf ears up.