?Notorious? Makes a B.I.G. Splash

Matt Villa

The legacy of Notorious B.I.G. reigns supreme after a solid biopic of the life of East Coast rapper Christopher Wallace is portrayed by the film’s underdog cast.

Jamal Woolard, who had little acting experience prior to the film, gives a stellar performance as ‘Notorious’ by capturing the very essence of the rapper’s demeanor.’ Since Biggie had asthma, Woolard had to go through fierce training at what producers called the ‘Biggie Boot Camp.”

A once 280 pound Woolard blew up to a 340 pound ‘Biggie’ size.’ Woolard told reporters that he captured the iconic swaggering voice by putting a cotton ball in his mouth and spitting as much as possible.’ One can pick up on this swagger during scenes of the rapper in the studio and on stage.

Woolard portrays Biggie from age 17 and captures the dual personality that lurked behind the shades and sizable mass of the famous rapper.’ The growth of a struggling rapper and hustler that morphs into a man determined to make right what was wrong is a constant theme throughout the movie, including reconciliation with his mother, being a father to his son, and clearing the air with all the women he has ever wronged.

The case for who’s responsible for the rapper’s death is subject to debate on both sides. The movie places much of the blame on Tupac Shakur and ‘Suge’ Knight for instigating the beef. The movie’s opening scene reveals that Biggie has been shot and killed.’ It proceeds to differentiate the West Coast, which produced hard-edged gangsta rap while Sean Combs and Wallace crafted a more pop-oriented synthesis.’

The animosity that develops between both sides provides an interesting perspective on how the two opposing coasts dealt with the rivalry that would eventually end in tragedy.’ That rivalry further illustrates how much power Shakur and Biggie had on waging war from coast-to-coast.’

Despite the fact that the movie is told through a one-sided lens, it remains praiseworthy because of Jamal Woolard’s performance as Christopher Wallace.’ ‘ ‘