The B.I.G. read: Clinton Hill library unveils ‘Biggie Smalls’ bookcase

Librarians dedicated a bookcase to legendary rapper Notorious B.I.G. on March 7.
Courtesy of Brooklyn Public Library

Talk about some notorious stacks!

Book-lenders at the Brooklyn Public Library unveiled a new catalog of hip-hop-themed material on Sunday, which will now live in a bookcase dedicated to rap legend Biggie Smalls in the library’s Clinton Hill branch.

“There’s many young people, and young adults, who love hip hop — but not a lot of them have read a book on hip-hop,” said Brooklyn native LeRoy McCarthy, who had lobbied for the creation of the new section. “This will encourage them to pick up a book on that, and maybe pick up some other subject in the library instead of playing video games.”

The Washington Avenue library dedicated the musical section to the late rapper, a Clinton Hill native, two days before the anniversary of his death. He was fatally shot in 1997 at the age of 24.

The new catalog will host books about hip-hop music, fashion, graffiti, and Brooklyn’s role in the history of the musical genre — which will help the city remain in touch with its local artistic history, said McCarthy.

“Hip-hop was born here, but I don’t believe that New York has honored hip-hop like other cities have honored their indigenous music,” he said. 

The Clinton Hill resident had also spearheaded a campaign calling on the city to co-name the block where the rapper once lived on St. James Place between Gates Avenue and Fulton Street — which city officials did last June, following years of contentious debate.

“I grew up in Brooklyn during the time of the emergence of hip hop, it’s good to see that the arts and culture that I grew up with is a part of Americana at this time,” said McCarthy. 

City parks officials also erected Biggie’s name above the basketball courts at the Crispus Attucks Playground on Fulton Street, where the rapper frequented for games of pick-up. 

And Biggie Smalls is not the only musical legend who McCarthy has fought to honor. 

In 2014, a Manhattan Community Board barred the musical-activist from applying for street co-namings after rejecting his plea to name a street corner after the Beastie Boys.

McCarthy also installed “Respect” signs in the Franklin Avenue subway station in Crown Heights as a tribute to the late singer Aretha Franklin, claiming that his work serves as a reminder of the legacy of the musical genre. 

“I feel pleased to be a part of putting hip-hop on the map in New York City and elsewhere,” he said.