Brooklyn resident and Clinton Hill board member LeRoy McCarthy, 45, introduced an effort to rename the corner of St. James Place and Fulton Street, where Biggie Smalls grew up, "Christopher Wallace Way," after the rapper's birth name. But at a meeting this week, several committee members were unenthused, and rejected the proposal.
One woman looked up the rapper's history, and read her findings to the community board on Tuesday night.
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.
Others complained about the rapper's derogatory attitude towards women.
"Hail Mary full of grace.. smack the bitch in the face, take her Gucci bag and the North Face," he raps in Dead Wrong, a song featuring Eminem that was released posthumously. A few versus later we hear lyrics that could be interpreted as being about rape. "Stab ya til you're gushy, so please don't push.. me. I'm using rubbers so they won't trace the semen. The black demon, got the little hookers screaming."
McCarthy defended his effort, saying that "there are many artists that share stories in a vernacular that their audiences understand. Biggie used the language from the streets he grew up in to convey what he wanted to say."
He also encouraged board members not to use Wallace's physical appearance or how he died against him.
Clinton Hill in 1970s vs. today
Wallace was raised by a single mother at 226 St. James Place in Clinton Hill, and skyrocketed to fame at only 22 year-old, after releasing his debut album Ready To Die in 1994. He died in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in 1997, when he was 24-years-old.
The Clinton Hill Wallace knew was very different than the neighborhood the board member's reside in today. In fact, earlier this year Wallace's childhood home - which he calls a "one room shack" in his popular song Juicy - went on the market for $725,000.
Wallace often rapped about life in Brooklyn; both of the struggles of growing up in poverty, and the guilt he felt after escaping it. In his song Things Done Changed, for example, he discusses the limited opportunity for kids in the projects ("either you're slinging crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot,") the tragedy of crime, and his fear of returning home ("Going out of town, blowing up, 6 months later, all the dead bodies showing up").
If I wasn't in the rap game
I'd probably have a key knee-deep in the crack game
Because the streets is a short stop:
Either you're slinging crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot
Shit, it's hard being young from the slums
Eating 5 cent gums, not knowing where your meal's coming from
And now the shit's getting crazier and major
Kids younger than me, they got the Sky brand pagers
Going out of town, blowing up
6 months later, all the dead bodies showing up
It make me wanna grab the 9 and the shotty
But I gotta go identify the body
Damn, what happened to the summertime cookouts?
Every time I turn around, a nigga getting took out
Shit, my momma got cancer in her breast
Don't ask me why I'm motherfucking stressed, things done changed
DNA info reports that on Tuesday McCarthy presented the Clinton Hill board with letters of support from two local churches, a mosque, a nearby block association, several local businesses, and more than 1,000 comments from people around the world who signed an petition in support of the renaming.
For now, the issue has been tabled by the Transportation and Public Safety Committee.