This documentary, "I Got A Story To Tell" kind of came out of nowhere. It was announced a few months back, the trailer dropped a few weeks ago, and it came out last week.
Pat blogged about it when the trailer dropped, and questioned if it'd be a bunch of recycled footage and the same storyline. Luckily for all of us, it was not. Not even close.
I'm a hugely bias Notorious B.I.G. fan. I think he's the greatest rapper that ever lived.
I've listened to everything (I thought) that was ever put out by him officially and unofficially thousands upon thousands of times.
I've watched everything I could possibly get my hands on regarding the conspiracy to murder him. From the well-produced and distributed stuff like Murder Rap
ALL the Greg Kading stuff-
Even the really bad stuff like -
and even the laughable Johnny Depp and guy from Westworld remakes-
Haters would call me obsessed.
So when news of this new one, with never before seen material dropping, I was admittedly very giddy about it.
And it didn't disappoint.
I treated myself to a nice penne alla arrabbiata from Volare (best in the US), a nice bottle of wine, with an edible for dessert and settled in for the 90-minute doc.
It was fucking fantastic.
The footage comes in the form of official interviews for the film, or 100% from B.I.G.s right-hand man D Roc who was a childhood friend of Biggie's that he hired as part of his crew to film. Everything. (See spoilers below for the reasoning behind this) but remember, this was the mid and late 90s. We didn't have the technology we have today, and film equipment wasn't small or cheap back then. All the behind the scenes stuff from the road, studio sessions, and just them all hanging out was incredible.
I laughed many times. I cried a couple. And I was left emotional and sad at the end that a kid with so much promise and potential had his life cut short at the age of 24…
I don't want to spoil it because I really encourage anybody that's a rap fan, music junkie, or fan of just good storytelling and interesting people to watch this. And there's no better time than tomorrow because it's the anniversary of his death (1997).
For those that have seen it, or need to be sold more on why to watch it, scroll down for my spoilers and things I couldn't believe I heard and saw.
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Stuff I've never seen or heard before, or in entirety, that blew my mind.
- The footage of him singing Jodeci - Freak'n You. Fuckin incredible. Big was the man. Constantly laughing, joking, or trying to make people laugh or not take themselves so seriously. Somebody you always wanted to be around.
- Crazy amount of jazz and R&B influenced his works. Puffy said he was actually an "r&b writer that rapped". He didn't know what planet biggie came from with his harmonies, cadence, and rap flow. The footage of Biggie's obsession with Motown and R&B as a child and how it carried over into his writing was really fascinating. The guy was really fucking smart.
- Biggies mom didn't know what he was really doing when his first album Ready to Die came out. He tried to keep her from listening to it when her friend told her about it and how profane it was. She was a "country-western" fan because that's the only other thing you could hear on the radio besides reggae in Jamaica, so she made Biggie listen to it as a kid and it influenced him. He liked it so much that he said he couldn't fall asleep at night without listening to the country-western station on the radio.
- He grew up learning about music from his uncle Dave in Jamaica, who would take him to music clubs there when they would visit his grandma once a year.
- The live footage from "Gimme The Loot" was fucking awesome. Here's another version of it-
- Finally getting to put names to faces and faces to names after all these years was great. Names like C Gutta, O, and others who you always heard getting shout outs on his songs but never knew who the fuck they were.
- Biggie broke down game film like fucking TB12. His boy D Roc, who filmed everything shown in the Doc, was constantly filming the crowd during shows, rather than B.I.G., because B.I.G. wanted to be able to watch after and study the crowd's reactions to certain parts of songs so that he could adjust.
- The jazz trumpeter that taught B.I.G. the ins and outs of music theory, he was training him to become a Jazz artist… Max Roach, Clifford Brown, were just a few influences. He said Biggie could have been one of the great jazz musicians had he stayed on that path. He said that when he heard his rap songs, that he immediately noticed how he mimicked percussion with his rhyming style. The sequence they demonstrate in the film was so fuckin cool.
- The footage of him freestyling when he was like 14 and skinny is crazy.
- MC Kwest was his original rapping name which is hilarious.
- The first song Biggie ever rapped over was Toto - Africa. No joke. And I don't think I've ever needed something in my possession more in my life.
"MC Cwest, recorded his first track, which we hear a snippet of. (It’s a Slick Rick rip-off, over a sample of Toto’s “Africa,” interestingly anticipating Puff Daddy’s later reliance on classic records as backing beats for songs by B.I.G. and others.
- Finally seeing a picture of and getting THE STORY behind "Miss U", Roland aka Olie, aka "O"…
- The story behind Junior M.A.F.I.A. including how he gave them their name without them having a clue who he was referring to.
He wrote all their material and helped them produce the songs. Took them on tour. Was just a really loyal and good friend.
- Forgot just how smooth Puff Daddy was back in the day.
- Forgot how sick of a rapper Lil Kim was back then. Could have used a little more of her but with how much Faith Evans and B.I.G.'s mom and kids were involved in this I get why not.
- Could have used Jay-Z talking about how instrumental Big was to paving the way for and putting him on. Without B.I.G. there is no Jay-Z.
- The full footage of the famous freestyle between him, and previously unknown adversary “Supreme” was great.
- The footage of the Biggie and Tupac's freestyle in the middle of a crowd going absolute ballistic was one of the craziest things I've ever seen
- Director Emmett Malloy did a hell of a job on this