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.