The most important word in the title of Netflix’s latest documentary, Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell, is “I.”
Fans of the Notorious B.I.G., who sold over 30 million albums and was inducted last year into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, have already heard the story most filmmakers want to tell about the revolutionary rapper: mainly, his deadly beef with Tupac Shakur.
That story has been aptly cinematically covered by now. It was the subject of the 2002 documentary Biggie & Tupac as well as the basis for City of Lies, the floptastic 2018 detective thriller inexplicably starring Johnny Depp. Even in Notorious, the hagiographic feature from 2009, a lot of screen time is devoted to the dynamic between the pair—their friendship, their falling out, the media stoking tensions between them, and of course, the tragic outcome.
In I Got a Story to Tell, however, the sum total of the most consequential rivalry in hip-hop history is relegated to the final 10 minutes. What director Emmett Malloy does with the rest of the run time is pass the mic to Christopher Wallace (in home-video footage and archival interviews), along with those who knew him best, to get the clearest portrait yet of the real person shrouded beneath one of the most legendary musical personas of the last 30 years.