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The best doc of the year so far is Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell

Our newest review is Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell, another great documentary from Netflix.

The new documentary of The Notorious B.I.G. Yet this one, contrary to other projects based on the rap superstar, released a side of the legendary hip-hop artist that no one has ever seen.

Netflix has made great documentaries lately. Michael Jordan’s Last Dance didn’t cease to impress and gather much acclaim.

Yet, when it comes to Biggie, the documentary goes beyond expectations. Unlike many other documentaries, TV episodes, or films, Biggie: I Got A Story to Tell delivers a first-person look into the life of the legendary artist.

Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell review

So, his story isn’t really new to the general public. A lot of us know the basics of who he was and where he came from. Yet, Netflix’s documentary works, and does a great job, of exposing more.

There are a lot of elements of his work ethic displayed in the documentary. First, they successfully debated his favorite rappers and their flow; Biggie’s favorite being Big Daddy Kane.

Second, they recounted what songs should be sampled, and how intricate should the rhyme patterns be to tell this story.

When you are considered the best at something you make it look easy. Biggie made it look easy and this documentary really peels back just how much work it took for him to be as great as he was.

Check out Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell on Netflix today

In review, Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell is well-worth your time. Especially if you are a hip-hop fan or are interested in the history of the genre in any capacity.

It seems like other music genres care for better when it comes to their history and the greats of their genre that created in their field.

Hip-hop rarely gets that same luxury so when something like this gets released. But here, it’s clear that it was a body of love from everyone who worked on it, it’s exciting for the culture. 

Check out the video below for the full review of the documentary and check out the film now on Netflix.

A look into the history of jewelry and how Black people pioneered the drip

“Drip” is a vast but powerful concept. Just as hip-hop has permeated almost every dimension of popular culture, it has also had an enduring impact on jewelry drip all over the world.

The resurgence of “The Drip” (use of the phrase in hip-hop shot up 195 percent in 2017), places the contemporary scene in a particular moment in drip history.

Megan Thee Stallion in her iced out custom ring set, proving that jewelry drip exists, image courtesy of Urban Islandz.

Hip-hop in the 80s and 90s

Rappers and athletes of the 80’s/90’s famously pioneered the concept of bling. The first man to popularize hip-hop in the 70’s, DJ Kool Herc also introduced the culture to the power of a few gold chains on an album cover.

In other words, he pioneered what we now call jewelry drip.

Hip-hop originated from the experience of being Black in America. A concept that it has never ceased to reflect.

LL Cool J brought us four-finger rings, Lil Wayne bought the most expensive set of Grillz in hip-hop ($150,000!). Then, T-Pain came down the red carpet in his Big Ass Chain.

However, the jewelry drip goes deeper than that. Jewelry is, as Meek Mill puts it, a “trap trophy.” 

T-Pain in his “Big Ass Chain,” showing of his jewelry drip. Image courtesy of Zumic

Nonetheless, critics are quick to write off these displays of wealth as unsophisticated.

But, when Notorious B.I.G. wore the massive Jesus piece for the last time ever. And, never forget when Lil Yachty designs a Bart Simpson necklace modeled after himself, it framed the success of Black artists in a culture that seeks to put them down. 

Cuban chains, heavy gold hoops, rainbow diamond-encrusted everything defines the jewelry drip in the world today.

These pieces sit in the display case of every major jewelry brand worldwide without ever prompting a nod of acknowledgment towards Black culture jewelry drip from its designers. 

Jewelry drip throughout history

Even before hip-hop, Black culture has had deep cultural ties to jewelry that signifies glamour and luxury.

Mansa Musa was the King of Mali in West Africa, considered the wealthiest human being of all time. (Image courtesy of Money Inc.)

The song “Putting on the Ritz” by Irving Berlin from 1929, makes racist remarks about the glamour of Harlem.

Flo-Milli dazzles in flapper style bling for “Roaring 20’s”

Lines like “Come with me and we’ll attend their jubilee, And see them spend their last two bits, Puttin’ on the Ritz, ” is steeped in racial prejudice. The lyrics reflect the timely sentiment that Black communities were impoverished due to their inability to spend money responsibly.

The insinuation that jewelry drip reflects the fiscal incompetency of Black people continues to pop up in discourse today. Such criticism ignores the historical significance of jewelry co-opted as a symbol of financial success against insurmountable odds. 

Diamond mines in South Africa

Jewelry drip also has the political undertone of reclaiming an industry built on Black labor and resources.

15-year-old Erasmus Jacobs discovered a transparent rock on his father’s farm in December of 1866, and within three years mines along the south bank of the Orange River were producing 95 percent of the world’s diamonds.

The Cullinan Diamond is the worlds biggest diamond, discovered in South Africa. It is part of the Royal Sceptre, belonging to the British Crown. Image courtesy of GIA.

All of the mines were controlled by European men. This list includes Johannes De Beers, whose company invented the marketing phrase “diamonds are forever,” and controls virtually all diamonds on Earth today.

A De Beers Company advertisement from 1977.

The workforce behind this production consisted mainly of Black migrant workers, as did the gold industry in Johannesburg. The gold mining operation in South Africa employed more than 100,000 people, most of whom were Black.

Black designers at the cutting edge of jewelry drip

Black jewelry designers today are working in an industry that has been inaccessible to Black craftsmen for centuries.

One of the first people to crack the industry was Arthur George “Art” Smith, a designer and one of few black students in the 1920s to graduate from Cooper Union.

jewelry drip
Winifred Mason and her Haitian inspired work, 1946. (Image courtesy of pics+brushes).

Art formed a network of mentors that included the legendary Winifred Mason. Mason is considered the first commercial African-American jeweler in the United States. 

In an industry that typically requires immense wealth to access training as well as material, the relationship between academic opportunity and Black jewelry designers is immensely important.

Thus, jeweler Melanie Eddy pointed out that not one Black student has graduated from Central Saint Martins with a jewelry design MA in the six years she has taught there. 

Today a scholarship exists in Art’s name at the Fashion Institute of Technology for Black students in the school’s Jewelry Design program.

jewelry drip
Rick Ross’s jewelry drip designed by Rick Ross (chain), estimated at $1,500,000. (Image courtesy of Getty Images).

And, despite the appropriation of culture and resources in a predominantly white industry, Black designers persevere and they will keep on contributing to the jewelry drip.

The revolution

Jameel Mohammed, the founder of the world-famous Khiry, continues to revolutionize what high fashion jewelry means and looks like.

Adorning celebrities and politicians alike are Mohammed’s highly curated pieces celebrating symbols of diaspora – from hoop earrings to silhouettes of Black historical figures.

It’s about creating cultural change through the creation of tangible, desirable objects.

Mohammed for i-D magazine, 2020
jewelry drip
Indya Moore in custom Areeayl Goodwin jewelry drip on the Fashion Media Awards carpet, 2019. (Image courtesy of Paper Magazine.)

Areeayl Goodwin made a name for her brand Beads Byaree, when Indya Moore wore waist-skimming earrings framing 17 Black trans women murdered in the US in 2019 alone.

Goodwin’s work is a testament to art that has the agency to take on radical storytelling. Hip-hop drip mainstays like Jacob the Jeweler and Ben Baller continue to shape jewelry on the East and West coast. 

The history of drip tells the story of perseverance and vision. With talented Black designers taking center stage in the jewelry game, the future looks bright and shiny for drip in jewelry.

8 photographs of late rappers that will remain special to the culture

Photographs of our favorite late rappers have graced the culture way before social media. And though they have passed on, they have hundreds of images out there, and many of the photographs of those late rappers hold a special place in their fans’ hearts. 

Rappers live the rockstar life, pun intended, as clichés of past music idols are evoked through these artists. The photographer, though, is crucial to humanizing those talents in today’s day and digital age.

Years ago, photographers like Anne Liebovitz toured with rock bands like the Rolling Stones and captured some of the most intimate and public moments from the life of greats who have passed, like John Lennon.

Now with the digital era, photography is diluted and more personal – in a public manner. 

Photographers have always released posthumous photographs of late rappers

Pop Smoke photograph
Ryan Lowry photographed Pop Smoke.

In recent news, Vikki Tobak has launched her very successful exhibit, Contact High: A Visual Story of Hip Hop. Showcasing rappers from all areas of the genre and those who have passed in their quest to be the best MCs, photography is recognized as a key element to hip hop culture.

Contact High chronologically exhibits photography contact sheets from the film cameras of some of the most notable hip hop photographers ranging from 1979 to 2012.

Barron Claiborne photograph
Barron Claiborne photographed Biggie.

Photographers relish the chance to capture rappers, but sometimes they are gone too soon

Photographers want to shed light on their work and hope to capture eye-catching content with your favorite rapper. Sometimes it’s a challenge to get the chance to meet your favorite rapper, and those late rappers weren’t here long enough to give all of us a fair chance at a meet and greet.

So we look to other photographers to give us the peak we need into the lives of our most favored rap artist. The photographers with access are the internet’s blessing to voyeurism.

juice wrld phtograph
Christopher Lee photographed Juice Wrld.

Christopher Lee photographed Juice Wrld in Midtown Manhattan in April of 2019, before he tragically passed at age 21, in December of 2019.

mac miller photograph
Clarke Tolton photographed Mac Miller.

Clarke Tolton captured this photograph of late rapper Mac Miller at his home in July 2018 before we lost him that same year in August.

dead pop smoke photograph
Ryan Lowry photographed Pop Smoke.

Ryan Lowry photographed Pop Smoke in his neighborhood of Canarsie Brooklyn early in 2020 the same year he passed.

And photographer Apex keeps Pop Smoke’s memory alive with #WooWednesday.

dead rapper tupac photgraph
Al Pereira photographed Tupac.

Al Pereira took this photograph of the late rapper Tupac. Here Nas appears in a contact sheet image after seeing Biggie and Pac side by side along with Redman in his circulated photo at the time back in 1993.

late rapper nipsey phtograph
Jorge Peniche photographed Nipsey Hussle.

Jorge Peniche photographed Nipsey Hussle for a long time and has been through some real moments with the man, even on the day he was released from his probation.

late biggie photographed
Barron Claiborne photographed Biggie.

Barron Claiborne photographed of late rapper Biggie and was confident in giving Notorious B.I.G. a persona like no other, like a king, he describes this now-famous image.

Look out for this article in PAGE magazine.

Bed-Stuy to name ball court after Biggie, but of course there’s haters

Live from Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Notorious B.I.G. is getting some more respect on his name. A blacktop court at the Crispus Attucks Playground will be named after the late BK legend.

City Councilman Robert Cornegy finally got the green light after making a promise to the rapper’s mother, Voletta Wallace. According to an article from DNAInfo, Cornegy promised to preserve B.I.G.’s legacy. Cornegy said, “I promised his mother, Ms. Voletta Wallace, I would preserve his legacy, so naming this park after him seems very fitting.”

Cornegy will be cutting the ribbon next month at Crispus Attucks Playground on Fulton St. and Classon Ave. in Bedford-Stuyvesant. According to the Daily News, the councilman was honored,

“This honor is very personal to me. Twenty years later, this comes full circle, this renaming of the basketball courts is in his honor.”

Biggie is partly responsible for putting Bedford-Stuyvesant on the map with his music. B.I.G. never forgot his roots. The rapper always spit hard hitting lyrics reminiscing on the hood he was raised in. According to Cornegy,

“Christopher Wallace’s music put Bedford-Stuyvesant on the map in a billion dollar global industry.”

Before hitting the record stores, Biggie would shoot buckets at the park.

The renaming of the court didn’t come easy and Cornegy had to knuckle up in a contentious debate at a community board meeting. Former public member of the board’s Transportation Committee, Lucy Koteen was one of those haters.

Back in 2013, Koteen opposed the renaming of St. James Place and Fulton Street to “Christopher Wallace Way” because the rapper was “too fat.”

In the latest community board meeting, Koeten pulled up and handed out fliers with B.I.G. lyrics she felt were absurd. According to DNAInfo, she compared Biggie’s legacy to that of Al Capone and Bernie Madoff.

“When we name something, we’re saying this is somebody we should respect or want to emulate,” said Lucy Koteen.

Koteen continued,

“Would we name it Al Capone Basketball Court? Would we name it after Bernie Madoff?”

Koteen why are you legacy blocking? Da fuq did Biggie do to you? I know he had your kids listening to his music and you were tight, huh?

Either way, Koteen and other detractors were straight dubbed!

The renaming ceremony is set to take place within the first couple of days in August. They are looking to hold the event ahead of the annual basketball tournament held in honor of B.I.G. on August 5.

Truly, unbelievable!