Spread Love: New York Honors Hip Hop Heavyweights By Renaming Streets

Photo: AP Images

Two New York City boroughs will have streets renamed to reflect their homegrown hip-hop heroes. In a unanimous vote held last Friday, the New York City Council moved to honor The Notorious B.I.G. and the Wu-Tang Clan, along with folk legend Woody Guthrie. The decision came during the New York City Council’s final meeting of the year.

The Brooklyn block currently known as St. James Place, where Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace was raised, will be named Christopher Wallace Way. And in Staten Island, the Vanderbilt Avenue and Targee Stree cross-street will tentatively be named Wu-Tang Clan District, writes Rolling Stone.

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LeRoy McCarthy, a cultural advocate who helped push the city to co-name the streets, told the Gothamist he’s happy the city’s officials “are finally giving the city’s indigenous ‘hip hop’ music the respect and recognition that it deserves.”

McCarthy has been instrumental in other efforts to push cities to recognize its hip-hop artists, successfully getting a street in Queens co-named for Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor of a Tribe Called Quest, as well as Sylvia Robinson Place in Englewood, N.J., named for the founder and CEO of Sugar Hill Records.

These recognitions are small but significant acts of collective memory—preserving in a city’s landscape the names of native sons and daughters, people who helped shape and define their communities. And while hip-hop has shaped global culture for well over a generation, these kinds of honors have only recently been given to its most influential contributors.

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“It took a long time and lots of hard-work to advance the Christopher Wallace Way & Wu-Tang Clan District street co-naming, but ya know what, Hip Hop Don’t Stop,” McCarthy told The Gothamist.

It’s unclear when the streets will be renamed. The City Council’s bills currently await Mayor Bill De Blasio’s signature to be made official.

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Anne Branigin

Staff writer, The Root. Sometimes I blog slow, sometimes I blog quick. Do you have this in coconut?