Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell chronicles the life of Christopher Wallace, aka The Notorious B.I.G., whose music drives the soundtrack. Over the years, documentarians have repeatedly emphasized the beef between west coast and east cost rappers during the mid-’90s, specifically the conflict between Wallace and the late Tupac Shakur. In Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell, director Emmett Malloy focuses less on pop culture myths and more on the music.
Malloy’s documentary heavily features the personal footage of Wallace’s good friend Damion “D-Roc” Butler, which creates an intimate feel throughout the 97-minute runtime. Interview subjects recall their relationships with Wallace in ’80s Brooklyn, and how jazz techniques influenced his lyrical structures. Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell does indeed build towards the 1997 murder of the subject in Los Angeles; however, musical anecdotes are the heart and soul of the Netflix documentary.
Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell is different than most documentaries about the subject because it provides context for the musical samples. For every hard-nosed banger, there’s a retro R&B production that allows for a better understanding of The Notorious B.I.G.’s creative approach. Various freestyle performances are also included in the Netflix soundtrack, which demonstrates Wallace’s knack for original wordplay while spotlighting his performance bravado. Here’s every featured song in Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell.
“Big Poppa – The Notorious B.I.G.
“Between the Sheets” – The Isley Brothers
“Gimme the Loot” – The Notorious B.I.G.
“Just to Get a Rep” – Gang Starr
“Scenario (Remix)” – A Tribe Called Quest
“Stand by Your Man” – Merlene Webber
“Respect” – The Notorious B.I.G.
“Do the Rock” – Written by Jason Louis Bonislli, Jermain Brown & Knight Ryder
“Warning” – The Notorious B.I.G.
“One by One” – Written by Wayne Shorter
“For Big Sid” – Written by Maxwell Roach
“Pep in My Step” – Bean One
“Player’s Anthem” – Junior M.A.F.I.A.
“Block Party” – The 45 King
“Whatchu Want (Demo)” – The Notorious B.I.G.
“Madison Square Garden Freestyle” – The Notorious B.I.G.
“Something to Ride (Fonky Expedition)” – The Conscious Daughters
“The Harder They Come” – Jimmy Cliff
“Juicy” – The Notorious B.I.G.
“Juicy Fruit” – Mtume
“I Got a Story to Tell” – The Notorious B.I.G.
The Netflix documentary opens with “Big Poppa,” as an expositional montage establishes the home video premise, along with the difference between Wallace the person and The Notorious B.I.G. At the nine-minute mark, “Gimme the Loot” plays during a live performance sequence. Moments later, the subject’s mother, Voletta Wallace, discusses her preference for country-western music, which sets up a brief snippet of “Stand by Your Man.”
“Player’s Anthem” briefly plays during a Junior M.A.F.I.A.-themed sequence in Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell, and “Respect” displays hows Wallace incorporated his mother into his lyrics. At the 52-minute mark, The Notorious B.I.G. performs “Watchu Want,” and “The Harder They Come” sets in while Voletta Wallace discusses the events that led to her being pregnant with Christopher.
In the final act of Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell, “Warning” highlights the subject’s lyrical ability to create vivid imagery, and the 1997 hit “Mo Money Mo Problems” can be heard soon after, though it’s not part of the official soundtrack. Malloy’s film ends with “I Got a Story to Tell” playing over the credits.