Feature Attraction: Diddy is Notorious

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I still remember the day that Notorious B.I.G. died in March 1997. All the Catholic schoolboys were red-eyed in their shell-toe Adidas and oversize polo shirts. I tried to console them  with  games of Naughty Nun, but they wouldn’t have it, “Juicy” blasting in their headphones.

Notorious, the Notorious B.I.G. biopic, opens in theaters today after eleven long years in the making. This story charts the rise of Christopher “Biggie” Wallace (played by rapper Jamal “Gravy” Woolard) from Bed Stuy drug-dealer to the rap legend murdered at age 24.

Critics and Biggie fans are loving Woolard. Less adored is Big’s-then-sidekick, then-Puff Daddy. The film is executive produced by now-Diddy, which might explain why he comes across as Biggie’s savior in the flick. Even half-expired, old-white-guy, not-hip-hop-head or particularly insightful Roger Ebert noticed the douchery.

  • Ebert’s insight (with a whopping, and shocking, 3 1/2 stars): “Biggie’s…demo tape is heard by Sean Combs (Derek Luke), who is seen in the film as a good influence, in part perhaps because he’s the movie’s executive producer.”
  • San Francisco Chronicle: “It must have been an act of great restraint for Sean Combs to resist titling this film, about Chris Wallace, his close friend turned rapper and cultural icon, “The Notorious B.I.G. – The Sean Combs Story.””

Diddy defends: “Anybody that’s experienced a great loss of a friend, a family member…you figure out ways to repress the feelings and not deal with it… But watching the movie, there was no running, there was no hiding from it… I changed. It deserves to be honored at the Academy Awards…Those are great movies. But this one, we have the privilege to be honest.”

Meanwhile, Biggie’s lover Lil’ Kim refuses to see the movie because she refutes the accuracy of the script. 

  • Lil’ Kim: When I spoke to the writer I felt like he was trying to play me, so I wouldn’t give up anything. I knew I wouldn’t have control of how I was depicted. I did correct the writer about Biggie’s nickname for me. He had written that Biggie called me Big Momma. Biggie never called me Big Momma…He used to call me Mookie.”

*****

Word UP: Word Up Magazine: A classic hip hop magazine dating back to the 1980s that Biggie famously cites in the opening to his hit “Juicy.”

Mookie: The Notorious BIG’s nickname for lil lover, Lil Kim.

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