Brooklyn residents will not be strolling down Notorious B.I.G. Way any time soon. Community board members have nixed a proposal to name a corner in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood “Christopher Wallace Way,” in reference to the rapper’s real name.
In making their decision on Tuesday evening, board members cited the rapper’s criminal history as one of the reasons that were turning down the proposal. Perhaps more surprising is that at least one member also mentioned the rapper’s girth as a reason to block the street name change. “Physically, the man is not exactly a role model for youth,” said committee member Lucy Koteen who had “looked up the rapper’s history.” She went on to complain, “I don’t see how this guy was a role model and, frankly, it offends me.”
Koteen was not alone in her disapproval of naming a street after a musician who “started selling drugs at 12,” “was a school dropout” and “had a violent death,” among other reasons. Kenn Lowy, another board member and local business owner, said he did not appreciate the rapper’s derogatory attitude towards women in his music. (If the council members listened to Biggie’s songs, they would know that he was just trying to make some money to feed his daughter!) The matter was tabled by the committee because councilwoman and public advocate candidate Letitia James hadn’t issued a letter of support yet.
LeRoy McCarthy, who began the movement to re-name the corner of St. James Place and Fulton Street after the late rapper, thinks that “board members should not hold Wallace’s physical appearance nor how he died against him,” according to reporting by DNA info. In McCarthy’s opinion, the Notorious B.I.G. “used the language from the streets he grew up in to convey what he wanted to say.” It’s those very same streets that McCarthy hopes to use to honor the slain “Big Poppa” singer and Brooklyn icon. McCarthy has already gathered letters of support from “local churches, a mosque, a block association, and several local businesses,” as well as collecting 3,515 people to support his online petition so far.
Despite the council’s objections, the proposal could still go forward if councilwoman Letitia James issues a letter of support.