Created by Matt Zoller Seitz
Directed by Judith Carter
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
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Culture journalist Justin Tinsley’s It Was All a Dream is “a deeply reported saga of the ephemeral, yet colorful, life of The Notorious B.I.G.” (USA Today).
The Notorious B.I.G. was one of the most charismatic and talented artists of the 1990s. Born Christopher Wallace and raised in Clinton Hill/Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, Biggie lived an almost archetypal rap life: young trouble, drug dealing, guns, prison, a giant hit record, the wealth and international superstardom that came with it, then an early violent death. Biggie released his first record, Ready to Die, in 1994, when he was only 22. Less than three years later, he was killed just days before the planned release of his second record, Life After Death.
A fresh, insightful telling of the life beyond the legend, It Was All a Dream is based on extensive interviews with those who knew and loved Biggie, including neighbors, friends, DJs, party promoters, and journalists. And it places Biggie’s life in context, both within the history of rap but also the wider cultural and political forces that shaped him, including Caribbean immigration, the Reagan-era disinvestment in public education, street life, the war on drugs, mass incarceration, and the booming, creative, and influential 1990s music industry. Justin Tinsley’s biography is the story of where Biggie came from, the forces that shaped him, and the legacy he has left behind.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Justin Tinsley is a senior sports and culture reporter with ESPN’s The Undefeated. In his six years with the company, Tinsley has written thought-provoking commentary and journalism on a range of subjects including Marvin Gaye, Malcom X, James Baldwin, Serena Williams, Kendrick Lamar, and Cardi B, with a focus on the intersection of sports, race, and culture. He is a regular panelist on ESPN’s daily sports debate talk show Around the Horn. A graduate of Hampton University and Georgetown University, he lives in Washington, DC.
"Tinsley’s sleek, effective biography introduces major figures in Wallace’s life, complete with interesting backstories, before we meet the influential rapper, giving readers a solid grounding in the pertinent context . . . . A touching tribute to the Notorious B.I.G. balancing larger-than-life stories with poignant personal moments."―Kirkus
“Meticulously researched . . . . Hip-hop and Biggie fans will appreciate the book’s context of his rise to fame and the reminiscences of those closest to him.” ―Library Journal
“A deeply reported saga of the ephemeral, yet colorful life of The Notorious B.I.G.”―USA Today
MZS.Press is the online arts bookstore founded by author, critic, and filmmaker Matt Zoller Seitz and directed by Judith Carter. It offers new, used, signed, collectible, and rare books on film, TV, music, photography, and the visual arts. The store was launched in 2019 on a different platform and has expanded to incorporate arts books published by MZSPress's private imprint: titles currently include Seitz's The Deadwood Bible: A Lie Agreed Upon and Dreams of Deadwood, about the HBO Western, and Walter Chaw's A Walter Hill Film.
Our deepest wish is to promote, encourage, and distribute work by small presses, academic presses, and individuals. Extraordinary work tends to get swallowed up on giant platforms like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The store's inventory of nearly 1000 volumes is currently in the process of being reconstructed after its relocation from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Dallas, Texas. The titles featured here are personally selected by a group of curators and advisors, including Seitz, Carter, and an array of critics, artists, journalists, educators, publishers, and arts mavens who are known for their ability to suss out what Seitz's jazz musician dad liked to call "the good sh*t."
“Please. Have mercy. I’ve been wearing the same underwear since Tuesday.”
Matt Zoller Seitz
Critic, Author, Filmmaker, MZS Press Creator
Matt Zoller Seitz is the Editor at Large and film critic of RogerEbert.com; a staff writer for New York Magazine and Vulture.com, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism. His writing on film and TV has appeared in Sight and Sound, The New York Times, Salon.com, The New Republic and Rolling Stone. Seitz is the founder and original editor of the influential film blog The House Next Door, now a part of Slant Magazine.
Seitz has written, narrated, edited or produced over a hundred hours’ worth of video essays about cinema history and style for The Museum of the Moving Image, Salon.com and Vulture, among other outlets. His five-part 2009 video essay Wes Anderson: The Substance of Style was spun off into the hardcover book The Wes Anderson Collection. This book and its follow-up, The Wes Anderson Collection: Grand Budapest Hotel were New York Times bestsellers.
Other Seitz books include the New York Times bestellers The Sopranos Sessions and Mad Men Carousel; TV (The Book), The Deadwood Bible: A Lie Agreed Upon, and the forthcoming The Wes Anderson Collection: The French Dispatch. He is also an interviewer, moderator, and film programmer who has curated and hosted film and TV presentations for the Museum of the Moving Image, IFC Center, San Francisco's Roxie Cinema, and other venues. He is currently working on a memoir about his marriages and a feature-length documentary about his father, jazz musician and composer Dave Zoller.
His hobbies include exotic dancing, moonwalking, and affixing masking tape labels to every food item in the refrigerator, including eggs. He has the attention span of a gnat.