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The late Biggie Smalls may be a legend in the rap community, but Brooklyn community leaders do not think that the popularity of his music is enough to get a street corner renamed Christopher Wallace Way. In fact, community board members cited his criminal past, misogynistic lyrics and even his size as reasons not to honor him.
Community Board 2 member Lucy Koteen told the Clinton Hill board that she read up on the Notorious B.I.G.’s past before Tuesday night’s meeting, reports DNAinfo.com. “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,” Koteen noted. “I don't see how this guy was a role model and frankly it offends me.”
Ken Lowy, another member of the board and owner of a local movie theater, added that he didn’t like Biggie’s misogynistic lyrics.
Koteen also spoke with 1010 WINS Wednesday, reports CBS NY, and again said she didn’t approve of the idea.
“It didn’t seem to me like this man was worthy of being rewarded in this way,” Koteen said. “He does not seem like the kind of role model that we would want to emulate.”
LeRoy McCarthy is the man behind the push to get a street corner named after the rapper, who was killed in a Los Angeles drive-by shooting in 1997. McCarthy said that he will continue his cause, and criticized the members of the board for holding Biggie’s weight against him. “Board members should not hold Wallace's physical appearance nor how he died against him,” he told DNAInfo.com.
“There are many artists that share stories in a vernacular that their audiences understand,” McCarthy said in defense of Biggie’s lyrics. “Biggie used the language from the streets he grew up in to convey what he wanted to say.”
Even if members of the board supported his efforts, McCarthy still needs Councilwoman Letitia James’ support. She needs to write a letter of support and the board’s Transportation and Public Safety Committee will not take up the issue until she does so.