DVD Review: “Biggie Smalls: Rap Phenomenon” reveals little about late rap superstar
With the 2009 release of the movie “Notorious” came the buzz about the life of the Notorious B.I.G, and with that buzz came documentary spinoffs such as “Biggie Smalls: Rap Phenomenon.”
Unlike “Notorious,” which deals with the life and death of one of rap’s brightest stars in more or less chronological format, “Rap Phenomenon” is an homage to Biggie’s prowess as a rapper that features footage from live shows, candid moments with the larger-than-life rapper and interviews with rap journalists, producers and rappers such as Snoop Dogg and Bad Boy affiliates The Lox.
The DVD is divided up into chapters — including “Swagger,” “Crew” and “Lyrics” — each of which pay homage to a different aspect of Big’s style. Still, the documentary feels as though it lacks direction.
Many times the interview segments don’t provide much in the way of analysis or revealing information, and they end up being mostly recycled versions of conclusions we’ve already come to ourselves. Styles P in particular has some interesting things to say, but a weeded-out Jadakiss and a host of dull musings from various interviewees don’t exactly help to illuminate the subject matter.
Noticeably absent are interviews with the people closest to Biggie, including Sean “Diddy” Combs, Lil Kim and other members of Junior M.A.F.I.A.
The hand-held camera footage of live concerts and candid moments quickly grows tedious. If the footage told a story, the poor quality might be forgivable, but when it just seems like random pieces of whatever was available on the camera, the shaky shots get boring fast.
Anyone interested in the Notorious B.I.G will probably want to check out the DVD just to catch glimpses of the rapper and hear people talk about him for an hour and change. But if you’re looking to learn something you don’t already know, you’ll probably want to skip this one.
For my review of the movie “Notorious,” click here.