Notorious chronicles the life, rise to fame, and eventually the untimely passing of Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace known by his stage name The Notorious B.I.G. Director George Tilman Jr. and executive producer and real life friend of Wallace, Sean “P Diddy” Combs accurately capture the inspiring and tragic story of Christopher Wallace’s rise from the despair of the ghetto he lived in to international fame and fortune.
The film shows how Wallace progressed from his humble beginnings in Brooklyn, New York as a kid who didn’t have much growing up in the ghetto, who eventually becomes hardened by the environment he was raised in and turns to selling crack cocaine as a means to provide for himself and his single mother. But also how he turns his life around through the power he finds in rap music.
Throughout the film you can see the effects Wallace’s new found fame has on him, and he soon discovers Hollywood is not everything it seems to be. He discovers most of the people at record labels don’t really care about him, and that he is perhaps metaphorically alone in the world. The Fake and petty aspect of Hollywood is explored deeply through Wallace’s relationship with fellow rapper Tupac Shakur. When Wallace and Tupac first meet they are good friends, but eventually the glitz and glamour turn their relationship sour. The two become heated rivals and start the East Coast vs. West Coast rap battle and gang war which eventually ends in Wallace’s untimely passing.
The film has a solid cast starring real life rapper, Jamal Woolard as Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace, Derek Luke as Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, and Anthony Mackie as Tupac Shakur. However the supporting cast might have had even stronger performances, Angela Basset playing Christopher Wallace’s mother Voletta Wallace in particular was one of defining roles of the film. Wallace’s celebrity love interests Lil’ Kim and Faith Evans are played by Naturi Naughton and Antonique Smith respectively. And Wallace’s longtime girlfriend from his ghetto days and baby mama Jan is played by Julia Pace Mitchell.
Although Notorious is an extremely tragic story, it is a very inspirational film about how one can raise themselves up by their boot straps and come from nothing to something through good family and friends, hard work, determination, and following their dreams. The movie is a historically accurate, and thought provoking tribute to hip hop legend Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace.