The mean streets of the borough that rappers like the Notorious B.I.G. crowed about are now hipster havens, where cupcakes and organic kale rule.
For current real estate purposes, the block where the Brooklyn rapper Notorious B.I.G., whose real name was Christopher Wallace, once sold crack is now well within the boundaries of swiftly gentrifying Clinton Hill, though it was at the edge of Bedford-Stuyvesant when he was growing up. Biggie, who was killed under still-mysterious circumstances in 1997, was just one of the many rappers to emerge from Brooklyn’s streets in the ’80s and ’90s. Including successful hardcore rappers, alternative hip-hop M.C.s, respected but obscure underground groups and some — like KRS-One and Gang Starr — who were arguably all of the above, the then-mean streets gave birth to an explosion of hip hop. Among the artists who lived in or hung out in this now gentrified corner of the borough: Not only Jay-Z, but also the Beastie Boys, Foxy Brown, Talib Kweli, Big Daddy Kane, Mos Def and L’il Kim.
For many, the word “Brooklyn” now evokes artisanal cheese rather than rap artists. The disconnect between brownstone Brooklyn’s past and present is jarring in the places where rappers grew up and boasted about surviving shootouts, but where cupcakes now reign. If you look hard enough, the rougher past might still be visible under the more recently applied gloss. And if you want to buy a piece of the action, Biggie’s childhood apartment, a three-bedroom walk-up, was recently listed by a division of Sotheby’s International Realty. Asking price: $725,000. [Read More…]