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The ad campaign that is now bombarding me when I trudge through the Union Square station on my morning commute is the one pimping the film   Notorious”, about the life and times of the rapper  Notorious B.I.G. It opens January 16th.

 

 Half-awake as I made my way through the station, I thought to myself, doesn’t the word “history” mean anything anymore? I mean, somebody’s dead five minutes and they’re making biographical epics? Honestly? Okay, at least this guy is actually dead, unlike George W. Bush, but still, can we get a little perspective on the timeline before we take someone’s life story to the big screen?

 

Then I realized that he died almost 12 years ago.

 

That’s probably more of a testament to my being old and forgetful than a lack of perspective on my part. Still, it was stunning. Twelve years! Earlier this year, I admitted that I wasn’t quite ready for ‘90s nostalgia with the release of The Wackness”, a movie about a guy coming of age in Giuliani’s New York. I guess with the arrival of this movie, it’s here and it’s never going back. Besides, I’m sure the public has been clamoring for an on-screen remembrance of Biggie.

 

What better time for it than before Martin Luther King Day weekend, and the one right before America’s historic inauguration? The only way it could get better is if there was a re-release of “Juice” in theaters. Now that would be a double bill!

 

Not sure if I’ll see it. While biopics can be very predictable, and it’s generally hard to bring anything new to the format, they can be successful if well-done. I saw “Milk” and thought it was very well-done and compelling, so why not the story of BIG? After all, they both end the same way, and half the fun will be in hearing some moron audibly gasp in surprise when it happens. (Slight difference: I would expect far, far, less man-on-man action.)

 

I think once upon a time I might have railed about this movie, But I guess enough time has passed and he’s still an important figure in the hip-hop community. I just hope it brings a little more to the table than just re-enacting scenes from his life; it needs to either give us a sense of the man or the movement. Anybody can re-enact the studio session where he recorded, “Ready to Die”, what needs to be done is to convey they moment, the urgency, and the thought and creative process that leads to a hip-hop classic. What made him unique, what was his vision, if he had one? Or was it a lack of that same vision that led to a beef that ultimately ended his life? This movie has to do more than make you go “Man, it was nice to hear Hypnotize again.” It has to make you understand or interpret the person in a new and different way, enhance your understanding and your appreciation of the artist as a person.

 

I guess I’ll see it if I’m assured I’m getting more than just a really hot soundtrack. It would be nice not to recoil this time from my ever-more distant youth and begin to be able to enjoy a little hip-hop history lesson, mixed with some nostalgia.

 

I’m not going to lie, I am not expecting that.

 

In the meantime, since there’s no biopic for Tupac anytime soon, I’m just going to have to work the following phrase into my vernacular more often in remembrance: “It’s all fun and games until you go to the MGM Grand to watch a Mike Tyson fight.”

 

What? I haven’t even pointed out that I am amazed they managed to find another human being that has fat on his eyelids to play Biggie. Or that the guy’s rap name is “Gravy.”

 

Sometimes, the jokes write themselves…

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