Twelve years after Christopher ‘Biggie Smalls’ Wallace was shot in a drive by shooting in Los Angeles, rapper Jamal ‘Gravy’ Woolard answered an open cast call to play the slain rap icon in a role that he believes was ‘meant to be’. After starring in the feature film ‘Notorious’, Gravy is currently in Jamaica working with his favourite singjay, Mavado.
When the STAR spoke to Gravy in a telephone interview yesterday, the rapper was having a wonderful time since he arrived in the island on Monday. His first time in Jamaica, Gravy will be visiting various vacation spots and will also be in studio recording songs with Mavado.
According to Gravy, the two met through a mutual friend in Brooklyn, New York. “I listen to dancehall/reggae every day cause I’m from Brooklyn. I’m really here on vacation but I’m gonna be doing some music too, hopefully a lot with Mavado.” Currently the artiste has no plans to collaborate with any other Jamaican entertainers.
An underground rapper, Gravy is best known as the artiste who got shot outside New York’s Hot 97’s studios two years ago and, instead of seeking medical help, proceeded with his radio appearance. He beat hundreds of Wallace fanatics vying for the role of the Notorious B.I.G, including artiste Sean Kingston, who is of Jamaican parents. Gravy is cast alongside Angela Bassett who plays Wallace’s mother, Voletta Wallace, Derek Luke, who depicts Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, and Anthony Mackie, as Wallace’s chief rival, rapper Tupac Shakur.
Wallace is considered one of the greatest rappers of all time. Notorious centres on the life of Wallace, from his beginning as a Brooklyn crack dealer to his rise to the top of the world of hip-hop and his murder, which has never been solved.
Gaining 65 pounds
For Gravy, the role took extensive training and dedication, including gaining 65 pounds to play the part. Gravy also studied the deceased rapper’s mannerisms and movement extensively and placed cotton balls in his mouth while filming to imitate Wallace’s signature sound.
Gravy says the work all paid off, commenting, “I think I did an excellent job; there was tremendous pressure, but I took it all as a challenge.”
A challenge that could lead to a career in acting, as Gravy is considering pursuing other roles. Music, however, is not on the back burner, as he says, “I’ve been around music a long time, started on the mix tape circuit and made it real big underground, never was commercial, but I’m gonna change that. I have a few things working on and I’m going back into the studio soon.”
Notorious is currently out around the world and in Jamaica and is doing well.