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B.I.G. deal: Pol proposes naming Clinton Hill b’ball courts after slain rapper, but opponents cry foul

Notorious: Christopher Wallace, better known as Notorious B.I.G., accepts his awards for rap artist and rap single of the year at the Billboard Music Awards in 1995, two years before he was shot and killed in 1997.
Brooklyn Paper
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They’re dead wrong.

Clinton Hill residents opposed to naming the basketball courts in a neighborhood park after native hip-hop legend Biggie Smalls should bury their issues with his controversial lyrics and tough-guy reputation and honor the rapper for his far-reaching influence, the Community Board 2 chairwoman said at a Monday Parks Committee meeting.

“Let’s give it a break folks. I don’t want to say forget about his lyrics, but I don’t look at his lyrics now, I look at his contributi­ons,” said Shirley McRae. “Why don’t we try to focus on the good? The man has been dead for 20 years, when do you say enough is enough?”

Councilman Robert Cornegy (D–Bedford-Stuyvesant) is proposing to name the courts at Crispus Attucks Playground on Fulton Street and Classon Avenue for Christopher Wallace, better known as the Notorious B.I.G., in an homage to the former Clinton Hill resident, who died at 24 after being hit with four bullets in a drive-by shooting.

The Parks Committee voted unanimously to approve the tribute.

The hoops have hosted an annual basketball tournament each year since Biggie died, and Cornegy wants to cement the rapper’s influence in the neighborhood by branding the blacktop with his name.

But some locals argued that the artist who rapped about womanizing and guns doesn’t deserve the tribute, and suggested the courts be named after an iconic female politician from Brooklyn instead.

“By naming a park after him you are endorsing that he stood for drugs and carrying illegal guns,” said Fort Greene resident Lucy Koteen, who brandished copies of Wallace’s lyrics at the meeting. “His favorite thing was to put down somebody else. Couldn’t we name it Shirley Chisholm Park or something?”

Cornegy acknowledged Wallace’s lyrics are misogynistic, but pointed out that he has helped tons of kids posthumously through the Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation, an academic organization founded by his mother with the slogan “B.I.G.: Books Instead of Guns.”

Another resident said he and his friends hailed Wallace for his musical genius, and that people should not be so quick to dismiss lyrical content in hip-hop that also exists in other genres.

“We didn’t think about the drugs, we thought about the art form,” said Jason Salmon, who works for state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D–Clinton Hill). “I know that art form advanced a lot of people’s lives — if this was the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, or any other genre of music would we be examining it like this?”

This isn’t the first time Cornegy — who said he promised Wallace’s mother that he would do everything he could to honor the rapper — has tried to name something after him. The pol tried to get a portion of St. James Place co-named after Wallace in 2013, but dropped the cause after community outrage over it caused further pain to Biggie’s mother, Cornegy said.

The proposed naming next faces Community Board 2’s Executive Committee, which will vote on it at its June 26 meeting.

The basketball courts will get a plaque with Wallace’s name and a paragraph detailing his contributions to the community if the tribute is ultimately approved by the city.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 5:57 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Homey from Crooklyn says:
Fat, blubbery, foulmouthed waste of oxygen
June 23, 2017, 7:36 am
Watisha Wilkins says:
W T F!! Dis is his park!!!
He started selling drugs in this park, he lost his virginity to a prostitute in this park, when he wanted to shoot someone he did it in this park! This is so his park! He's a role model! He told urban youth - yes, you can be a drug dealer, a rapper, and get killed by your homies! Dare to dream!
June 23, 2017, 8:34 am
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
Lucy Koteen is right.

Biggie Smalls music and lyrics were horrible. He is getting the benefit of nostalgia and ironic detachment. It'll soon pass and no one will be talking about this guy anymore.
June 23, 2017, 9:44 am
Russell from Fort Greene says:
In a way gangstas are proponents of open space.

The sentimental ooze is questionable and wonder how Biggie would feel about this nonsense.
June 23, 2017, 2:07 pm
Rewriting History is Wrong from People of good will says:
Words cannot disappear when its convenient to rewrite history-whether by racists or dope dealing gangsters...

We need to own our actions. Irrespective of how much fame & reverence his musical notoriety achieved for him and inspired other rappers...words do matter...that's why we revere Martin Luther King and why we disdain -rather than praise- the misogyny Small's words imply.

Let's condemn the cruelty and the racism that gives rise to these words-reprehensible.

from “Gimme the Loot”
The Notorious B.I.G.

“Then I’m dipping up the block and I’m robbing ——es too/Up the herringbones and bamboos/I wouldn’t give a —— if you’re pregnant/Give me the baby rings and the No. 1 mom pendant”
June 23, 2017, 3:29 pm
Pete from Fort Greene says:
Biggie Smalls' lyrics should be buried, just as Confederate flags and statues celebrating racist public figures are removed and dismantled from public spaces.

His mother has honored her son, through an academic foundation she set up. That should suffice.
June 23, 2017, 3:51 pm
Keisha from Clinton Hill says:
There are tons of tributes to Biggy around here. They are painted on buildings and theres a mosaic. Biggy was talented and he wanted to be a thug and thats what he was and that why he died. His mom did her best but she couldnt keep him from the gangsta life. Of course theirs good in everyone including criminals. Biggy wanted to be bad. He was. He wasnt no role model.
June 23, 2017, 5:11 pm
lk from Fort Greene says:
Wrong is wrong and putting spin on the good he did posthumously doesn't change the absolute disrespect he showed towards women and hate towards others. Perhaps it is his mother who should be honored, working to turn his negativity into a positive. This is also about money from Wallace's wealthy friends like J Z contributing to the neighborhood (and perhaps to the next political campaign?) Cornegy couldn't even acknowledge that Wallace was arrested many times for dealing drugs. Drug dealer, illegal gun carrier, insulting women, worshiping material goods-what's not to like? A true hero.
June 23, 2017, 5:22 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
What exactly did Biggie Smalls do that warrants naming a place after him? Hearing what he was known for makes me feel that it's better not to do so. Just because he got shot doesn't make him special either, because there are many others who got shot and they don't get anything named for them, which I don't get what makes him so special. Also, hearing about his life and that something should be named for him almost reminds me of the places in the Palestinian territories that get named after terrorists. As for Jay-Z, keep in mind that he was known for destroying a neighborhood just so that a developer such as Bruce Ratner, who heads Forest City Ratner, can build a Nets arena with a bunch of luxury housing at the expense of the city and state taxpayers even though Jay-Z himself barely owned any stock in the Nets being at less than 1% of the shareholders.
June 24, 2017, 6:36 pm
Joe from Greenpoint says:
Watisha, I think I love you.
June 24, 2017, 6:40 pm
Wing Dang from China says:
What about the Asian community?! Call it : Me So Horny Park!!!
June 25, 2017, 5:54 am
Morris from Fort Greene says:
I agree with Pootie. Biggie was a slob. He was fat because he ate junk and he did other junk like drugs and guns and violating women. He had no respect for anyone or for the law. He was a fat misogynistic criminal by choice. He's no rols model.
June 25, 2017, 8:43 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Let's not make statements about fat people, because not all of them are bad, but I won't argue on the fact that Biggie Smalls was a drug dealer and known for prostitutes, which are reasons alone not to name that basketball court after him.
June 26, 2017, 3:13 pm
Chopper says:
Rapping is not gangsta'ing
June 26, 2017, 9:18 pm

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