Biggie & Tupac (Nick Broomfield, 2002) is a documentary styled film directed and produced by ballsy British director Nick Broomfield who goes through great lengths in learning and portraying the real throughout the film. Out of many individuals examining the connections between the murders of multi-platinum selling rappers Notorious B. I. G. (Biggie) and Tupac (2Pac) Shakur, Broomfield’s account was deemed one of the most in-depth examination of the link between the two murders not to mention his substantial aid in solving small parts of the murders live on film.
The film starts off bumpy, with Nick Broomfield at the helm of this aimless camera crew. He first provides the audiences with a narrative introduction of both deceased rappers, where he states that Biggie and Tupac were “street buddies” showing the rare footage of them hugging on stage. The narration continued as it explained the reason and cause for their feud, the general explanation that everyone who was familiar with knew about in great detail.
Then came the news report of a former investigating officer of the case in particular, detective Russell Poole. The news report showed that he had filed a lawsuit against the LAPD department due to the obstruction of justice in his investigation in the case at hand. What he uncovered were evidence of corrupt police officers suspected to be responsible for the deaths of the two rappers. Poole also said that he provided the chief with enough evidence that “would warrant a full probe. ” However, He was “ordered not to investigate any further. With this, Broomfield manages to capture the audience’s attention as he carefully plants the seed of conspiracy in their minds. From this point on, Nick Broomfield launches a documented ‘investigation’ of his own as he far and wide for the truth in these conspiracies. We follow Broomfield to the places where the two great rappers were raised in, starting with Tupac in Baltimore, Maryland. We learn that he grew up without presence of a father, his love for acting, dancing and music took him to art school, where he was loved by many.
His love for Shakespeare took him to greater heights, with his occasional impersonation of Scarface (Al Capone) which were one of his favorite impersonations. These facts were used to allow the viewers to decode the realism depicted by truths as introduced in the film. One of the methods that Broomfield used in this ethnographic film to capture the real is the use of controlled voiceovers, where it is substantial enough that makes its point in an interactive manner.
Through the film, Broomfield has uncovered to the viewers related facts that question the transparency of the alleged official reports. In this case it was the deaths of Biggie and Tupac due to the aftermath of the intense east coast / west coast wars as described by Biggie’s mother in the film. This was, in fact, just a cover story. Broomfield’s account of their murders brings him to a bunch of crooked, corrupt police officers that happened to be off-duty on the night of both rappers murders.
The further examination was brought to a complete sense and realization when the name Suge Knight resurfaced as the alleged one responsible for both murders. Broomfield starts the investigation of his own case against Suge Knight where the reason for Knight’s motives were clear when Broomfield discovered the timelines from the point where Knight owed Tupac unpaid royalties as well as the rumors at that point in time of Tupac’s intended departure of Knight’s record label, which would’ve made Knight livid enough to order a hit on Tupac.
Knight, realizing that the murder will get back to him as long as rapper Biggie was alive long enough to suspect him, had sparked Knight’s intention to order a hit on Biggie as well. This was then staged as the fictional east coast / west coast rivalry war. The film carries on with the theory in mind, as Broomfield finds an eye-witness who declared on camera, that he had delivered the assassination money on Biggie’s hit. With that incriminating piece of evidence, Broomfield marches off to his last intended interview, with Suge Knight himself. Every director has his/her own signature style. For Nick Broomfield, he is a seasoned director and most importantly an experienced probe interviewer. His ability to coax interviewees into giving cooperative answers (even when they did not intend to at the start) is a true documentary masterpiece. Broomfield gains clarity about how the ethnographic world operates, and with that knowledge he casually makes a connection with even the most ruthless and powerful images in rap history: Suge Knight.
Although his approach is blunt, he starts conversations with the interviewees swiftly and smoothly with a dash of ever-so politeness. Broomfield’s commendable bravery and fearlessness was then displayed most when he managed to snag an interview with the big fish: Suge Knight. Broomfield’s photographer, Joan Churchill was so intimidated by Knight that he declined to go to the prison with him, which resulted in Broomfield hiring a freelancer for that confrontation itself. Broomfield explains in his voiceover track: “My movies are, in a sense, about my experiences in making them. He then appears unannounced at the prison in his two-man team, where he engages with Knight after several attempts at finding him. How the conversation went about was vague, as even Broomfield’s freelance cameraman was nervously fidgety with the camera and at one critical moment in the interview, the camera was pointed at the clouds instead of Knight. In a nutshell, Biggie & Tupac (2002) is a perfect catalyst of Broomfield’s projection of finding the real via means of capture.
The magical part of this documentary film is this: Nick Broomfield is not just a director, but portrays himself as a character as well, giving the audiences a better viewing guide. He makes full use of the interactive mode in documentary, which is the key part where the interactive text that draws its social actors into direct encounter with the filmmaker. Although he constantly whines about his incompetent employees, as well as confessing to fear as he walks into dangerous situations.
There is something charismatic about him as he psychologically nudges people to say things on camera that, at times, could get them in trouble. However, no trouble has resulted from those statements that seemed to support his argument, which is the two murders were covered up within the Los Angeles Police Department and there is no interest, nowadays, in being bothered by any additional facts. It can be safely said that the murders only enhanced the vibe around rap music, encouraging other artists to jump to the idea of the popular ethnographic image.