Fellow Brooklynites watched as people filled the streets and lined up at four Bed Stuy/Clinton Hill subway stations on Saturday, May 21, to celebrate Chistopher Wallace a.k.a The Notorious B.I.G, Biggie Smalls’ birthday. The world-famous late artist would have turned 50 years young, had he not been shot and killed in a drive-by in March 1997 in Los Angeles. Any day of the week when the sun is out, cars can be heard bumping any Biggie track. But, on Saturday, fans came out to wish him happy birthday. A stage was built close to his old apartment on St. James’ Place, which was re-named Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace Way in June 2019. There, in his honor, the community, Elements of Style NYC, Eliot Salome-Diaz, The Dondi White Foundation, and Michelle R. White hosted a block party to celebrate the late rapper’s achievements. 

Credit: Nayaba Arinde photo
Credit: Nayaba Arinde photo

The event inspired the community through the use of hip hop culture and the art of creation. The celebration also highlighted the importance of the need for the ceasing of gun violence, and how as a community we should come together to stop senseless killings.

The celebration began at 1 p.m.; at around 7 p.m. police tried to open the street and close down the event on St. James Place Christopher ‘Notorious B.I.G.’ Wallace Way between Fulton Street and Gates Avenue. They had to fight against the tide. Hundreds of people came out to the block party where music was played, laughter was shared, friendships were formed, and art was created.

Credit: Nayaba Arinde photo
Credit: Nayaba Arinde photo

Earlier that morning, just before 6 a.m., a block over, lines were formed at the Clinton and Washington subway station. Some people on social media said the MTA was exploiting Biggie, others said they were paying tribute with their Biggie Smalls limited edition metrocards, made in partnership with Rhino Entertainment. People waited for up to 3 hours or more in the four subway stations to buy the metro card with Biggie Smalls’ likeness on one side of the card. Some people avoided the long lines by getting their cards when sales began at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 21, at any one of the four Central Brooklyn subway stations at Lafayette Avenue, Clinton-Washington Avenue (C line), Clinton-Washington Ave. (G line), and the Barclays Center on Atlantic Avenue. There was only one machine working at many of the stops, and some people bought multiple cards for gifts or re-sale, making each purchase as long as 20 minutes a-piece in some cases. 

It was a very Brooklyn tribute, showing that his people in his neighborhood have never forgotten their beloved Bed Stuy icon, because he never forgot them.

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