The streets of New York City are where hip-hop got its start, so it’s only natural that they’d pay homage to some of the genre’s most iconic stars. Thanks to a unanimous city council vote on December 20, they’ll be doing so literally in the near future, with two streets named after The Notorious B.I.G. and Wu-Tang Clan.
Christopher Wallace Way — named after Biggie’s birth name — will be located, of course, in the late rapper’s birth borough of Brooklyn and the Wu-Tang Clan District will end up in Staten Island, origin of the legendary nine-man band who famously referred to their hometown as “Shaolin.” The naming initiatives were introduced by New York City resident LeRoy McCarthy, who began his efforts way back in 2013 and wanted to see hip-hop, New York in its origin and a quintessential part of the city’s history, recognized the same way jazz and rock music have been.
“There’s a certain sense of dismissal for hip hop historically,” McCarthy told NPR. “They think it’s not worthy of being recognized of the recognition that you would give to classical music or jazz or rock and roll. Hip-hop deserves that respect.”
McCarthy helped to get other major figures in hip-hop history recognized as well. New Jersey now has Sylvia Robinson Place in honor of the founder of Sugar Hill Records thanks to him, while New York recognized Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor Way in memory of the late member of A Tribe Called Quest.
Future projects he’s got planned include a street honoring the Beastie Boys in Manhattan, one for Big Pun in the Bronx, and a Tupac street in Oakland, where the iconic rapper spent much of his youth before moving to Los Angeles. The streets named after Biggie and Wu-Tang still need the signature of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, but he hasn’t raised any complaints. Hip-hop was long touted as the language of the streets and now, at least two of them will reflect that forever.