Biggie Smalls has been gone from the hip-hop scene for more than 25 years.

But the rapper is still very much present on the Clinton Hill streets that raised him.

That’s thanks to LeRoy McCarthy.

What You Need To Know

  • LeRoy McCarthy advocates for tributes to hip-hop legends throughout the country, most notably in his native Brooklyn

  • McCarthy is behind more than a dozen art installations celebrating Christopher Wallace, also known as the Notorious B.I.G.

  • He also secured recognition for the Wu-Tang Clan on Staten Island

“I consider it to be like the Abbey Road of hip-hop,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy fashions himself as hip-hop historian. After all, the Clinton Hill resident is responsible for a dozen Biggie tributes in the borough.

“Biggie deserved the same respect as they give to the Academy Award winners,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy says he only met Biggie one time. It was in passing. But that’s all it took to have a lasting impact. He met resistance when he tried to have a street co-named for the rapper.

“So I said ‘I’m gonna take it to the streets,” McCarthy said. “‘I’m going to put up some mural just to show some indication of where Biggie comes from.’”

Mural after mural, year after year, McCarthy finally got the green light in 2018.

“It felt like an accomplishment was made, but it felt good for youth, you know, to show them, you know, you could be somebody who is creative and also be recognized by New York City,” McCarthy said.

A couple of years after that, McCarthy solidified an acknowledgment of another New York City export.

It was for Shaolin’s own: the Wu-Tang Clan.

“Just being able to accomplish something like having a district named after us, that was so out of my wildest imagination,” Cappadonna said at the time. “I think that when you think about Staten Island, you think about Wu-Tang. That is synonymous and they pretty much put Staten Island on the map.”

McCarthy’s efforts have even been recognized in the halls of Congress, with the anniversary of hip-hop being dubbed “Hip-Hop Celebration Day” and the month of August being dubbed “Hip-Hop Recognition Month.”

“I grew up where hip hop was burgeoning,” McCarthy said. “The music, the lyrics, all of all of it is a part of the conversation that I’ve had since a child.”

For spreading hip-hop love, the Brooklyn way, LeRoy McCarthy is our New Yorker of the Week.