First Look: Jamal Woolard as Biggie Smalls

notoriousfirstpic.jpgThe first official photo of rapper Gravy, aka Jamal Woolard, done up as rapper Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace has been leaked by Notorious movie producer Wayne Barrow on his official blog. There it is to the left!

Woolard looks okay as Biggie Smalls, but let’s be real – he still needs to pack on about 65 pounds.

Woolard is best known for being shot in the ass outside radio station Hot 97 and then proceeding to continue with the interview. But, the film’s producers are hoping that all changes when filming begins next Monday.

According to an article in the NY Times, Woolard wasn’t even “part of the open call in New York in October,” however by November he was “quietly being groomed by the film?s director, George Tillman Jr., before being officially selected.”

?We set up a boot camp for three months just for him,? Mr. Tillman said from New York, where he is preparing to begin production with Robert Teitel, his partner in State Street Pictures. Mr. Tillman said that major musical performances in the film would generally use Mr. Wallace?s recorded voice, though Mr. Woolard would perform in situations where no familiar recording existed.

Mr. Tillman, 39, is known for the character-oriented ?Soul Food? and ?Men of Honor,? and was not an obvious choice for a film about street life.

The movie will attempt to steer clear of all the controversy surrounding the late rapper’s life and death, and instead focus on him being a family man, friend and genius rapper, which is kind of silly. Especially given how an article in the LA Times published yesterday renewed all of that controversy.

Reporter Chuck Philips makes the bold assertions that it was Biggie and Sean “Puff Daddy” Coombs who started the East Coast-West Coast rap feud when they okay’d a hit on Tupac Shakur.

For producers to leave out this aspect of Biggie would be disingenuous at best, deceitful at worst. It’s essentially rewriting history for their own purposes. That’s not to say that Biggie did in fact have anything to do with the killing of Tupac or even the supposed beatdown that Philips claimed started the entire rap war, however, he was probably involved in some capacity.

Tupac Shakur had been beaten, shot and left for dead at the Quad Recording Studios on New York’s 7th Avenue. As he was borne to a waiting ambulance through a swarm of paparazzi on Nov. 30, 1994, the rap star thrust his middle finger into the air.

It was a portentous moment in hip-hop — the start of a bicoastal war that would culminate years later in the killings of Shakur and rap’s other leading star, Christopher Wallace, better known as the Notorious B.I.G.

The ambush at the Quad remains a source of fascination and frustration to music fans and law enforcement officials alike. No one has ever been charged in the attack.

Now, newly discovered information, including interviews with people who were at the studio that night, lends credence to Shakur’s insistence that associates of rap impresario Sean “Diddy” Combs were behind the assault. Their alleged motives: to punish Shakur for disrespecting them and rejecting their business overtures and, not incidentally, to curry favor with Combs.


Philips has been down this road before (other articles about this very subject have proven to be spotty and supposition at best) and this article doesn’t reveal much, especially because so many of the “sources” in the article are off the record (and for good reason – would you want to be quoted in this type of story?), probably have their own agendas in spinning things a certain way, etc.Regardless, it’s an interesting read that seems plausible. Puffy for his part, has at least denied the accusations in a statement.

“This story is beyond ridiculous and completely false,” Combs told “Neither Biggie nor I had any knowledge of any attack before, during or after it happened. It is a complete lie to suggest that there was any involvement by Biggie or myself. I am shocked that the Los Angeles Times would be so irresponsible as to publish such a baseless and completely untrue story,” Combs stated.

Shocked indeed. Sounds like it all makes for great publicty if you ask us. Strange that the first official photo debuts on the same day that “new light” has been shed on the controversial deaths of Biggie and Tupac. We use air quotes because no new light has really be shed at all here.

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