Faith Evans Sheds Light on A&E’s ‘Biggie’ Doc
Twenty-one years after The Notorious B.I.G.’s untimely death, the Brooklyn-bred rap icon continues to move the culture. To his family, friends and fans, Biggie Smalls (born Christopher Wallace) was a larger-than-life personality behind and beyond the mic but only a select few knew his human side.
A&E’s 2017 documentary, Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G., zooms into the beloved emcee’s life, featuring never-before-seen footage and never-before-heard audio plus intimate sit-downs with those closest to him. Produced by the late great’s mother, Voletta Wallace, as well as Biggie’s widow and R&B singer, Faith Evans, the documentary will land on TIDAL on the anniversary of his death (March 9). Evans recently reflected on producing the project, her memories of B.I.G. and discussed why even non-hip-hop fans can get hip to this doc.
* * *
What were some of the personal revelations you experienced while working on this documentary?
It was interesting because some of the footage and audio that [A&E] found, I had never seen or heard. Although I know the love that [Biggie and I] had, that’s a lot of time [that has passed that] you can’t really put into words. I never heard those specific things that he said like no one’s ever talked to him like me and we’ll probably be back together in some years and things of that nature. Those are things in my heart that I felt.
How did the process of producing a documentary differ from building an album?
Well, it’s the same in a lot of ways on the production side because that’s what I do as a producer with my music. I typically assemble the people who I want to be a part of [the project]. A lot of times, I have ideas for how I want the music to be. I’m just not a programmer, a pianist or guitar player, so it’s a lot. But for this, thankfully we did partner with A&E and [director] Mark Ford. Obviously, Ms. Wallace and I don’t have a production company, but it was sort of getting the people that we know personally that we wanted to be a part of it. Because they knew that this was a project that Ms. Wallace and I were behind, they did it for us.
You open up about your run-in with Tupac and dealing with the headlines surrounding B.I.G. and Lil’ Kim, but what was the most difficult part of making this documentary?
A lot of those things I’ve discussed over the years, so I don’t really find difficulty [in talking about it]. I think even when I watched it back, only when I talk about losing him is when I get the most emotional. I mean there’s some times when I think about some of the happy stuff [with B.I.G.], but it’s just the fact that he’s not here anymore that makes me feel way more than anything.
Why do you feel that non-hip hop fans should watch this documentary?
I think that number one, it’s just a great story. It’s a very heartfelt story. Of course, what he means to the music world [adds to his] popularity, but at the same time, just to see his story of his mom coming from Jamaica for her family, him actually coming out of Brooklyn and becoming something by way of however he did it, [even if it was] not always good things, but he certainly had a goal and he had drive. It’s an inspiring story for people, whether they want to be in the music business or not. This [documentary] speaks to those facts of life.
What do you feel is Biggie’s legacy?
It’s just so crazy to see people of all walks of life who obviously, most of which are fans of his music, but it’s just a testament to the fact that number one, we hear it all the time but music is universal and that hard knock story, that from the bottom, now I’m here story still means something to everybody, you know? People love him. Ms. Wallace said something recently where she was like, ‘I’ve worked hard to clean up my son’s name. He was loved, but not everybody respected him, and I’m still working.’ There still are and were a lot of people that did respect him for the fact that he had that hard knock life. Then when you find out that his mom is such a sweetheart, such a devout Jehovah’s Witness and was very no nonsense and that he had to sneak to do half of those mischievous things, it adds a certain humor to this story. A lot of people don’t know that until they hear it.
Was there anything that you weren’t able to accomplish that you wished could have been a part of the documentary?
Generally, we would have loved [for some people] to be a part of it like Kim and just a few other people from his life back before [B.I.G.] became famous, but production was in New York. We couldn’t schedule everybody that we wanted, like a Busta Rhymes, people that I know meant a lot to him. Aside from that, [the documentary] humanizes him. The goal was certainly met. When [A&E] came to us with the idea, they said they wanted to just make people understand the person and humanize him more so than he has ever been. I think the documentary certainly did that. I feel like we certainly did what we set out to do.
Catch A&E’s Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G. documentary on TIDAL on March 9.
TIDAL is proud to announce the world's first music service with High Fidelity sound quality, High Definition music videos and expertly curated Editorial.