“Spread love, it’s the Brooklyn way,” Notorious B.I.G. raps on his 1994 track “Juicy.” The pioneering hip-hop star was raised in the borough’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, which now bears an official mark of affection for its native son. As Noah Remnick reports for the New York Times, a basketball court that sits on the border of Bed-Stuy has been named in Biggie’s honor.
The courts at Crispus Attucks playground will now be known as Christopher “Biggie” Wallace Courts, a nod to the rapper’s given name. The dedication, which was celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, is part of a $2.5 million project to renovate the playground. Before Biggie became a quadruple-platinum selling artist, he often stopped by the courts to watch the games and entertain his neighbors.
The dedication of the basketball court marks the end of a thorny battle to honor Biggie, who was gunned down on the streets of Los Angeles in 1997. Three years ago, a bid to name a street corner after the rapper was stymied by community board members, who took offense to Biggie’s criminal history, his lyrics—which they labeled as misogynistic—and even his weight.
The altercation highlighted tensions in a neighborhood that has undergone dramatic gentrification in recent years. Many of the board members who opposed establishing a memorial to Biggie were white, Remnick reports.
But the rapper’s supporters were backed by City Councilman Robert Cornegy, who grew up in the same building as Biggie. According to Flo Anthony and Leonard Greene of New York Daily News, Cornegy had promised Biggie’s mother that he would keep her son’s memory alive.
“This honor is very personal to me," Cornegy said of the newly named basketball court. "Twenty years later, this comes full circle, this renaming of the basketball courts in his honor."
More than 100 locals attended the dedication ceremony at the basketball courts on Wednesday, Remnick reports. As the ribbon was cut, “Juicy” played in the background.