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Community board members in a Brooklyn neighborhood have shot down a proposal to name a corner for the late rapper Biggie Smalls, citing his criminal past — and his large girth.
Lucy Koteen told the Clinton Hill board Tuesday night that she had “looked up the rapper’s history” and didn’t support the idea of honoring Smalls by naming the corner “Christopher Wallace Way,” a reference to the rapper’s real name.
“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,” she said, as reported by DNA Info. “I don’t see how this guy was a role model, and frankly it offends me.”
Another board member, Brooklyn Heights Cinema owner Kenn Lowy, cited the rapper’s use of derogatory names for women in his music.
But LeRoy McCarthy, who began the online petition to name the corner after Smalls, defended the rapper: “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.”
McCarthy added that “board members should not hold Wallace’s physical appearance nor how he died against him.”
The proposal could still go forward if councilwoman Letitia James issues a letter of support.
Smalls — aka Notorious B.I.G. — grew up in Clinton Hill. He was shot in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in 1997. The case remains unsolved.
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