“Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.,” kicks off on the USA Network Tuesday night, (Feb 27.), and the 10-episode scripted true crime miniseries chronicles the dual police investigations of Detective Greg Kading (Josh Duhamel) and Detective Russell Poole (Jimmi Simpson) into the controversial murders of two of the rap industry’s most legendary players, Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace, AKA The Notorious B.I.G.
In his first role, Wavyy Jonez stars as Biggie Smalls and it’s a role he landed after a nationwide open casting call. Of the thousands of hopefuls that submitted, Jonez’s video audition captured the attention of casting directors and Emmy Award®-winning director Anthony Hemingway.
“It feels phenomenal,” Jonez tells EUR/Electronic Urban Report when asked how it feels to play an icon for his first film role. “I’m very happy that I was chosen to play the Notorious B.I.G. To be able to play him in such a phenomenal series, I’m very excited.”
A rapper with a metaphorical style reminiscent of New York artists of the 1990s, Jonez has released his first mixtape, entitled “R.E.D. D.O.P.E. (Real Everyday Drama Doing Over People’s Expectation), and he credits B.I.G. as his #1 musical inspiration.
“Big had a lot of life to live, unfortunately, his life was short because of the situation between Tupac and Biggie and it was almost like… I always believed it was an eye for an eye. It was like, if you kill my dog, I’ll kill your cat type of thing,” Wavyy explained.
Marcc Rose made his acting debut as Tupac in Universal Pictures feature “Straight Outta Compton,” directed by F. Gary Gray. When asked to share his process for capturing the essence of Pac, Rose explained how he “was fortunate enough to be playing someone who has so much footage online, who’s just an iconic figure.”
Adding, “Aside from looking up research online, I was able to find out the types of books he read, “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. I was fortunate enough to meet his mom before she passed and the personal conversations we had gave me a better insight on the type of person Pac was. And I had Mopreme Shakur, who is Tupac’s older brother, he was on set with me just making sure that I brought that authenticity to his brother. Anthony Hemingway, our director, he had so many gems and made me feel so comfortable and took the pressure away from me to play Pac.”
“I definitely had to go back and explore who Christopher Wallace was more so than who Biggie Smalls and the Notorious BIG was,” explained Jonez, “because we wanted to tell a story about their friendship and the investigation with the case — just going back to explore who he was, his mannerisms, how he treated his friends, how he was with his family, what kind of father was he — even down to the music of how he put his song together and what inspired him to put such crucial songs together was definitely what I did to step into the role.”
“Unsolved” tells the story in three parallel narratives set years apart, examining the events that transpired leading up to and following the rappers’ fatal drive-by shootings and the police investigations that followed.
“I feel like when you’re dealing with hard facts, finally you have closure for the loved ones of these two hip-hop icons and facts are like numbers, they don’t lie,” says Wavyy. “And to be able to see all of this, I definitely feel like fans will be able to see more than an east coast/west coast beef. They’ll be able to see that there are good cops and there are bad cops, and if the two could’ve come together and squashed whatever beef they had, they’d still be here and the great work that they could’ve did outside everything.”
“Unsolved” goes beyond the headlines to explore the complicated friendship between these two icons, delving into a culture that both defined them and was forever changed in the wake of their untimely deaths.
“When people see Unsolved they will be receiving a lot of information because we do give you 10-episodes of a lot of information and with that information, some people may take what they will and we hope that it will give people closure and show them this is what went down,” Rose said. “These are the people who were tying. But then there are others who may take away from it a different message and the message could be, never leave anything unsaid… or undone.“
In seeking the truth behind the conspiracies, the one question that begs to be answered is: how can a case this famous still be unsolved?
“I feel Tupac was being loyal and his loyalty, unfortunately, is what got him killed…that’s what I believe,” Rose states.
Emmy- winner Anthony Hemingway (“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”) directs and executive produces “Unsolved” along with Mark Taylor through their Hemingway | Taylor production company.
Get ready to dive into this mystery when “Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G.” premieres Feb. 27 at 10 p.m. on USA network.
And check back soon for the second part of our interview with Marcc Rose and Wavyy Jonez