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So, you think you can play Biggie Smalls?

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Who’s got the skills to fill the notoriously big shoes of the late Christopher Wallace? The question that countless rappers have grappled with in the last decade took on an all-new urgency in 2005, when Fox Searchlight announced plans for a feature film about the Notorious B.I.G.’s life. Just a few months ago, the studio issued an open casting call for the central role in Notorious, inviting Wallace lookalikes across the country to submit auditions online; tomorrow morning, they’ll bring the search to Biggie’s hometown with in-person auditioning sessions in New York City. Anyway, they’ve graciously granted PopWatch an exclusive look at some of the results already sent in. (Sadly, they include neither the audition reportedly submitted by Roc-A-Fella rapper Beanie Sigel, nor that of Jamaican teen sensation Sean Kingston.) Here’s the first of the wannabe Biggies — with two more after the jump.

Pemberton, NJ’s David Williams is a decently convincingactor, and he’s got B.I.G’s body language totally nailed. Those jumpyhand gestures, that cocky, swaying stance — they’re straight out of the “Flava in Ya Ear” video.The original lyrics he spits after reciting the studio-providedmonologue are pretty solid, too, even if they’re nowhere near Biggie’sleague: “You want beef?/Well, I’m not a vegetarian/I’m 300 pounds, soI’ll gladly eat.” (Don’t laugh — it sounds more menacing than it reads.)

Jared Spencer‘s Brooklyn origins seem like a good sign. He’salso kinda chubby. Sadly, his similarities to the slain legend endright there. His disastrous monologue opens with an awkward “Yo…Yo.Check it,” then stumbles through a string of confused pauses andmisplaced emphases. The least embarrassing part of the whole thing isthe dead-eyed stare he gives us as he adjusts the camera at the end.Dude doesn’t even bother rapping! Come on, Jared, show some respect.

But best of all is the man known only as T-Bone. You might recognize him from his abbreviated run on  Season 1 of I Love New York small world!— and his media experience shows in the four-and-a-half-minute magnumopus which is his audition tape. The production values arecomparatively through the roof: a set designed like a press conference,a YouTube-tribute-style montage of archival images and shots of himselfin character, running PowerPoint captions, the works. Okay, so he’s nota fantastic freestyler, but he definitely deserves points for actuallytrying to flow off the top of his head while driving. And his writtenrhymes are easily the most authentic-sounding of the bunch: “One in thechamber/Wet up all you strangers/And so-called hard rocks, I laugh atdanger.” Fox Searchlight, I’m begging you to cast this man now.

So who’s going to tomorrow’s auditions? And doesanyone care to differ with my preliminary cheers’n’jeers?