I first heard
that they were going to make a movie, Notorious, out of Biggie Smalls’
life, my mind immediately jumped into fantasy casting mode. And after about 5
minutes and a mild headache, I jumped right the fuck out of fantasy casting
mode. The guy was truly one-of-a-kind, and that went for both his sound and his
look. A few pretenders (e.g. Shyne, Guerilla Black) have popped up in the rap
world since with passing similarities, but no one has been able to recreate his
biting brand of wit, bawdiness, lyricism, and sheer virtuosity. Hell, the
reason why those blatantly-sampled Diddy hits of the 90s still bang is because
of Biggie’s presence on most of them – it was instant credibility. I mean, how
corny can a Diana Ross sample be when you hear that baritone dropping gems like
“B-I-G P-O P-P-A/No info for the DEA/Federal agents made cuz’ I’m
flagrant/tapped my cell and the phone in the basement” over it?

Being that it’s a
music biopic, you’d think that was unimportant since whoever stars would likely
be lip-synching these joints. But the same audacious charisma in his rhymes was
apparent in every facet of his everyday life. We’re talking about a 300-pound-plus
street dude with dead eyes and nigh-coal black skin who was a ladies man. Now that is what I call charm. And how do you
find an actor with a similar physical presence who can somehow bring that to
the screen?

Forget “actors,”
and take it right back to the streets. Fox Searchlight is setting up an open
search process where anybody can submit audition videos starting this coming
Sunday at midnight to one of two websites:
and Unfortunately,
Fox also announced that George Tillman of Soul Food fame would direct the film.

Tillman’s a
straight arrow yeoman type, as far as directors go, and that’s exactly what
this project does not need. We’re
not talking Ray here. We’re talking
about a former crack dealer with a gift that couldn’t let go of the streets
enough to enjoy it. When he was murdered, the investigation – such as it was –
involved police corruption, politics, and even widespread black cultural issues
(I’m looking at you, “Stop Snitching” campaign). But we’ll probably just get a
1-2-3/rise and fall music biopic. Antoine Fuqua, who was attached for awhile
before Tillman came aboard, left precisely due to such creative differences. Either
way, the production should begin this fall.