Roll through the Brooklyn rapper's old stomping grounds before seeing them dramatized in the biopic Notorious.
By Anne M. Raso|
Start: 105 Tech Pl between Bridge and Lawrence Sts, Downtown Brooklyn End: 29 Claver Pl between Fulton St and Jefferson Ave, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn Distance: 3 miles Time: 2.5 hours
1. You won’t be sippin’ Mot and mackin’ ho’s here, but George Westinghouse High School(105 Tech Pl between Bridge and Lawrence Sts, Downtown Brooklyn) is the best place to start your tour of Biggie’s life, back when friends still called him Christopher Wallace. This is where he studied woodworking, math, English and art. “He could draw anything,” says Voletta Wallace, Biggie’s mom. It was also here where Biggie met and befriended Jay-Z and Busta Rhymes. “None of them had those names back then,” Notorious film producer Wayne Barrow says. Though Biggie was a good student, he missed a lot of classes thanks to his burgeoning “street business” and dropped out during his junior year. Today, a Jay-Z Rocawear billboard faces the school’s entrance.
2. From here, it’s an eight-minute walk to Junior’s(386 Flatbush Ave at DeKalb Ave, 718-852-5257), where Barrow says “all the kids hung out after going to [the now-defunct] Albee Square Mall.” In the film, it’s also where Lil’ Kim (actor Naturi Naughton) makes her final call to Biggie (Jamal Woolard) on the day he was shot. No one remembers exactly what the big guy regularly ordered, but Barrow thinks it was strawberry cheesecake and Coke: “He was not a fussy eater—just an eater.” A signed photo of Biggie hangs in Junior’s dining room.
3. Nearby Queen of All Saints School (300 Vanderbilt Ave between DeKalb and Lafayette Aves) is where Biggie would daydream about being in urban teen fanzines like Right On and Word Up! Both Barrow and Voletta say the rapper’s English teachers were dazzled by his essays and book reports. “That’s why he became such a wordsmith,” says Barrow. “He used to write poetry and was an avid reader of comic books.”
4. As you walk brownstone-lined Quincy Street, picture a little Biggie here with his mom. Quincy Lexington Open Door Day Care Center(5 Quincy St between Classon Ave and Downing St, 718-638-3400) is where Voletta dropped “Chrissy-Pooh” when she worked as a teacher.
5. Fulton Street is a mecca for former Biggie hangs. Start at the Golden Krust(918 Fulton St between St. James Pl and Washington Ave, 718-789-1833), formerly known as Patty Place Bakery. Being of Jamaican heritage, Biggie liked his patties spicy. Try a $1.41 D&G ginger beer, the best export outta Kingston since Toots & the Maytals.
6. Biggie’s official “hustle spot” was in front of the DLC Comprehensive Medical Center(979 Fulton St between St. James Pl and Washington Ave, 718-857-1200), formerly the Mayfair Grocery. A few doors down, the Fine Care Pharmacy(981 Fulton St at St. James Pl, 718-857-3499) was a liquor store back in B.I.G.’s heyday, and was turned back to one for the film. He shot dice and smoked reefer with the neighborhood kids at this corner.
7. Walk till you reach Biggie’s building(226 St. James Pl between Fulton St and Gates Ave). He lived on the third floor, but spent a lot of time on the roof, where he kept a trunk of polo shirts, more than a dozen size-14EEE kicks and enough bling to blind Flavor Flav. (Biggie would change into his “regular kid” clothes before entering the apartment; he didn’t want his mom to suspect him of dealing.) Biggie lived here with Voletta until he married Faith Evans in 1994.
8.The Orient Temple(197 St. James Pl between Fulton St and Gates Ave) is where Barrow says Biggie and his homies performed freestyle at underground parties. The space has been closed for two years, but is being converted into a special-events venue.
9. Before he was Notorious B.I.G., he was a notorious bag boy at Met Food Supermarket(991 Fulton between Cambridge and St. James Pls, 718-636-1620). Co-owner Wakeem Widdi remembers when his dad hired Biggie to pack groceries. Says Widdi: “He was a good kid who fell in with a bad crowd.”
10. Stop by the Respect for Life Barber Shop(932 Fulton St between Cambridge and St. James Pls, 347-257-2866) to meet Chadler “Guess” Smith. He was the original hair man for Biggie from 1987 until his death, and continues to clip members of the Junior M.A.F.I.A.
11.Frank White(936 Atlantic Ave at St. James Pl, 718-622-0840) is an old-world-gone-funky coffeehouse whose name comes from Biggie’s hustlin’ moniker. (That name, in turn, was lifted from Christopher Walken’s character in King of New York.) Customer faves include the Notorious and Lil’ Kim smoothies.
12. Lastly, cruise by St. Peter Claver Parish(29 Claver Pl between Fulton St and Jefferson Ave), where Biggie got disciplined from ages 6 to 12. The school was famous for its Double Dutch team. When asked if Biggie ever showed an interest in playing sports, Barrow just laughs: “No, he only played women!”