I feel like there’s been an overwhelming amount of positive feedback on the series, but has there also been a lot of negative backlash?
There has, definitely. If I were to go to a percentage, it would be under 5%. People said things like, “Biggie’s rolling over in his grave” and “This is blasphemous.” There were other things said too, but it’s online, where people want to have negative reactions. I’m used to it. But I thought the negativity would come in a much bigger wave, so I was pleasantly surprised that it was such a small percentage that was weeded out by the fans.
Today would’ve been Biggie’s 41st birthday, and it’s a sad day because we’re reminded that he’s not here, but it’s also a positive day when we celebrate his legacy and his catalogue. What do you want to celebrate about Biggie with The SMALLS Family?
To me, Biggie’s passing was an end of an era for hip-hop. I came up during the days of Boogie Down and Public Enemy and EPMD, and then Biggie came around. But once he was gone, I believe hip-hop changed and I believe culture changed. Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t really have a true love for hip-hop after Biggie’s passing, and I think that the Golden Era was over once Biggie died. He was also at the peak of his popularity at a very influential time in my life, so I feel like he spoke to me on a different and personal level, so I always took that with me. And I always felt like if I ever had the opportunity, I wanted to honor him as a filmmaker.
Are these two going to be the last two episodes in the series?
I have two more written, which I hope will be on a higher scale and higher production value. Right now I’m looking for other actors or possibly sponsors to take this a bit further. But that’s always been the big question, like how far can I take this? There’s a part of me that wants to do every Biggie song, but he only has a certain amount of songs that are widely recognized. I think part of maintaining the quality of the series will be only using the Biggie songs that are widely recognized. If I were to go to songs that were deeper cuts, it would be satisfying to me but the series would lose a bit of the luster because the audience wouldn’t relate to them as well.
So with these two new episodes, what do you want your audience to know?
I would love them to know that The SMALLS Family is a regular family. It’s a mom and a dad trying to raise a complicated teenage daughter, and people can relate to that struggle. That’s a lot of what’s disguised in these episodes – that’s our narrative through-line – and we want to create real circumstances that families go through. And again, we want to make Biggie’s lyrics the centerpiece of it all in a way that we pay homage to Big and bring his lyrics to a new audience. We want to show his lyrics in a way that they could be looked at by someone who’s unfamiliar with Big but could relate to these characters.