Newcomer Jamal "Gravy" Woolard has landed the role of the slain rapper Notorious B.I.G. in the upcoming biopic, dubbed 'Notorious.'

Woolard, a Brooklyn-based rapper, will join award-winning actress Angela Bassett, Derek Luke and Anthony Mackie in the film, which is set to begin production on March 24. Bassett will play B.I.G.'s mother, Voletta Wallace; Luke has signed on to portray Sean "Diddy" Combs and Mackie will appear as Tupac Shakur.

Wallace, who serves as one of the film's producers, stands by the decision to cast Woolard to play B.I.G. -- whose real name was Christopher Wallace -- and praised him for his "charming personality, warm spirit, wonderful sense of humor and beautiful smile." "He is a talented and charismatic actor, and I am excited that he will bring Christopher's character to life," Wallace said in a statement. 'Notorious' is due in theaters January 2009.