(Photo Credit: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)
21 years ago today we lost one of the most iconic figures in hip hop when the Notorious B.I.G. was murdered in Los Angeles.
In six months we lost two of the biggest hip hop artists not only of the time, but of all time in similar fashion.
Since that day we have kept the life and legacy of both artists alive as their music is still played today as if it was just released. Yet, over time it has felt that we are remembering the rapper’s death moreso than his life, and changing the legacy of his career.
Every year, on March 9, the hip hop world celebrates Biggie Day. While it is the anniversary of his death, DJ’s go on the radio to play his music every year, and for that one day it feels like 1997 again, back to the first time we heard the voice and rhymes of the Notorious B.I.G.
Over the last five years, documentaries and tv shows about the Notorious B.I.G. have been released. Most of these television shows and documentaries focus on the death of a 24-year-old man instead of focusing on what made his music and career in such a short span so legendary.
Let’s take a look at some of these shows.
2015: Former Los Angeles Police Department detective Greg Kading released a documentary titled Murder Rap: Inside the Biggie and Tupac Murders. Based on his book, this documentary gives another look inside the 2006 investigation of the two unsolved murders after Biggie’s mother Voletta Wallace sued the LAPD. Here we get a brand new look inside why the murders went unsolved, and a more detailed theory on who may have been responsible for both artists death.
2017: Legendary rapper Ice-T linked up with journalist Soledad O’ Brien for a special on FOX called Who Shot Biggie & Tupac? The special interviewed key witnesses and suspects including Haitian Jack and Suge Knight to try and find out who really murdered both 2Pac and Biggie and if they were both connected.
2017: The stories of Biggie and Tupac are once again on the big screen with the film All Eyez On Me which chronicles the life of 2Pac.
2018: Using the documentary and book a base, the story of Greg Kading and another former LAPD officer Russell Poole found their way on USA television in Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. This television series is another look into the investigations and moments that may have caused the murder.
Most of the specials and pieces we see today about the Notorious B.I.G. focus on the passing and the unsolved mystery behind it rather than the music that made him a superstar today. For those who are 21 years or younger, this may be one of the first or only introductions to the rapper and rather than learning about why he is so iconic today with his music and where hip hop was at in the era of 1995-97.
We need other films and documentary that show that part, and keep the music alive and the conversation more about his life than his tragic death for the sake of profit.
Thankfully, through his mother Voletta Wallace, the first documentary authorized by the family was released last year, and re-released today on TIDAL called Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G. This film looks at his life through her and his former wife Faith Evan’s eyes and keeps a focus on his legacy both good and bad while he was alive. Not so much focused on his death.
It is the hip hop communities responsibility to continue to tell the story of Christopher Wallace and the Notorious B.I.G. and keep his legacy living every day through the music.