The Notorious B.I.G.

The Brooklyn neighborhood of Clinton Hill is a very different place right now from what it was when the Notorious B.I.G. grew up there. Lately, an online petition has circulated, asking to have the corner of St. James Place and Fulton Street, near the apartment where a young Biggie lived with his mother, as “Christopher Wallace Way.” The reasons for the proposed change are easy to figure out: Biggie was arguably the greatest rapper of all time, and he’s enormously important to the world’s perception of Brooklyn. But some community board members of the since-gentrified neighborhood aren’t having it.

According to the Huffington Post, community board member Lucy Koteen spoke at a recent meeting, claiming that she’d “looked up the rapper’s history” and objected based on grounds of criminal past, violent death, and, um, obesity: “He started selling drugs at 12, he was a school dropout at 17, he was arrested for drugs and weapons charge, he was arrested for parole violations, he was arrested in North Carolina for crack cocaine, in 1996 he was again arrested for assault, he had a violent death and physically the man is not exactly a role model for youth. I don’t see how this guy was a role model, and frankly, it offends me.”

Meanwhile, board member and Brooklyn Heights Cinemas owner Ken Lowy said that he didn’t appreciate the misogynist language that Biggie used in his lyrics.

The real reason, however, that the proposal hasn’t gone forward is that councilwoman Letitia James hasn’t issued a letter of support. If she does that, it can still go forward.

Comments (6)
  1. I understand where she’s coming from, but at the same time he was one of the most important rappers ever.

  2. While I’d have to agree with Ms. Koteen, as glorifying criminal activity and drug use is definitely not, umm, good, it makes me wonder about all of the streets, buildings, and schools named after dudes like Thomas Jefferson and Christopher Columbus who were known as slavery enablers, slave owners, and, well, rapists.

  3. I never understand people’s desire to have counter cultural heroes publicly honored. Isn’t one of the reasons Biggie has fans that he was exactly the kind of person who would (and should) never have a street named after him?

  4. Just another case of hip hop offending people. She does make a valid point ,however, because he was all the things she says which are all obviously bad habits for kids to follow. But as the above comment mentioned whenever kids think of Thomas Jefferson they think about the president and not all the dirty stuff in his past. In that respect people should realize his hip hop ingenuity and talent just overlap his criminal tendencies. Obviously not everyone can appreciate hip hop but maybe people should keep an open mind to more than just the stereotypes that accompany hip hop. I do think Big Poppa Blvd would be way cooler name than Christopher Wallace Way

  5. How is having a violent death relevant in ANY way? It wasn’t like he chose to get assassinated. We celebrate plenty of people who had violent deaths. This is the dumbest thing ever. This lady is a moron and probably a racist and I hate her.

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