Filed under: Features,In The Trenches,Not Your Average,Print Work,The Unkut Guide
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
NAME: Marcy Projects.
LOCATION: Marcy Avenue, Brooklyn.
ACTUAL FACTS: Marcy Houses has twenty-seven, 6-story buildings with 1,714 apartments. Completed January 19, 1949, the development is home to 4,385 residents.
TOUGH GUY RATING: Medium rare. In December 2007, nine members of ‘G’s Up’, a Marcy-based crime crew were arrested on drug and weapons charges as part of a joint sting between the FBI and the NYPD. It’s claimed that the crew were raking in around $5,000 a week in cocaine sales, and are suspected to have been involved in a double homicide in the area.
RAP ALUMNI RATING: Jay-Z, Memphis Bleek, Sauce Money and The Jaz (aka Jaz-O).
LYRIC QUOTE: “You crazy, think your little bit of rhymes can play me? I’m from Marcy, I’m varsity, chump, you’re JV” Jay-Z [Jay-Z feat. Notorious B.I.G. – ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’]
NAME: Queensbridge Houses
LOCATION: 12th Street, Queens.
ACTUAL FACTS: Queensbridge Houses is the largest housing development in New York City. Completed March 15, 1940, Queensbridge North Houses has thirteen, 6-story buildings with 1,540 apartments which are home to 3,457 residents. Queensbridge South Houses has thirteen, 6-story buildings with 1,602 apartments that house 3,530 residents.
TOUGH GUY RATING: Medium. Last major drug bust was in 2005, when around 40 members of ‘The Dream Team’ were arrested following an eleven-month undercover operation. Known to operate around ‘The Hill’ (where a strip of stores and a community youth center are located), ‘Super Ed’ and his crew were known to bring in as much as $10,000 a week during their three-year reign. Super Ed also had close ties with Lake and Cormega, having been credited as co-Executive Producer of the Lake Entertainment Presents: The 41st Side album.
SMART DUMB CATS: An unlicensed drunken motorist was busted after police caught him snoozing in his car at an Elmhurst intersection in August 2008. The 50 year-old man was asleep behind the wheel at a green light around 2 a.m. Friday. According to The New York Post: “An officer knocked on the driver’s side window, waking him up.” He then “stumbled out of his car, which rolled forward and almost plowed into the cops’ vehicle. He was charged with DWI and operating a vehicle without a license.”
RAP ALUMNI RATING: 5/5. Marley Marl, MC Shan, Tragedy, Mobb Deep, Nas, Cormega, Screwball, Capone, Killah Sha, Craig G and many, many more.
LYRIC QUOTE: “I got you stuck off the realness, we be the infamous/you heard of us, official Queensbridge murderers” Prodigy [Mobb Deep – ‘Shook Ones Pt. 2’]
NAME: Red Hook Houses
LOCATION: (East) Clinton Street, Brooklyn (West) Dwight Street, Brooklyn.
ACTUAL FACTS: Red Hook Houses is the largest housing project in Brooklyn. It consists of Red Hook East and Red Hook West. Red Hook East has sixteen buildings, 2 and 6-stories tall with 1,407 apartments. Completed November 20, 1939, it is home to 3,053 residents. Red Hook West has fourteen buildings, 3 and 14-stories tall with 1,470 apartments. Completed May 27, 1955 and houses 3,356 residents.
TOUGH GUY RATING: Low. With a giant new IKEA store and plans for the next season of MTV’s ‘The Real World Brooklyn’ to be filmed in Red Hook, it’s fair to say that the surrounding area is continuing to become more and more gentrified. Red Hook Houses still experiences it’s fair share of gunplay, however.
NAME CHECK: The group T.H.U.G. Angelz (consisting of Hell Razah and Shabazz) recently released an album dedicated to the area, titled Welcome To Red Hook Houses.
RAP ALUMNI RATING: 2/5. Hell Razah and Shabazz The Disciple.
LYRIC QUOTE: “Or fatal robberies in Red Hook where feds look/For fugitives to shoot cops, niggaz layin on roof tops/ for his CREAM he stashed in a shoebox” GZA – ‘Cold World’
NAME: Walt Whitman Houses/Raymond Ingersoll Houses
LOCATION: Cumberland Walk, Brooklyn
ACTUAL FACTS: Completed February 24, 1944, Walt Whitman Houses has fifteen buildings, 6 and 13-stories tall with 1,652 apartments that are home to 2,485 residents. Ingersoll Houses has twenty buildings, 6 and 11-stories tall with 1,823 apartments that are home to 2,640 residents. Usually referenced with the rest of Fort Greene since ‘Walt Whitman’ doesn’t rhyme with much.
TOUGH GUY RATING: Not what it once was. The Ingersoll Houses were the home of the original legendary NYC gunman Kelvin ’50 Cent’ Martin. In October, 2006 an off-duty cop shot and killed a 17 year-old Walt Whitman resident after “he encountered an individual on his knees, begging for his life as an assailant stood over him, firing a .40-caliber pistol.” When he identified himself as a policeman, the gunman allegedly turned and opened fire on the officer, hitting him in the buttocks and ankle, before he was able to return eleven rounds with his Smith & Wesson automatic. The gunshot victim – who was from rival Ingersoll Houses across the street – and the policeman both survived their injuries.
SMART DUMB CATS: A group of at least six men attacked and robbed a bicycle-riding pizza delivery guy in January, 2006, in full view of diners at nearby restaurants. After a chase involving at least seven police cars, the group was apprehended at a temporary parking lot back at the Whitman Houses. The only stolen property, according to the police report, was delicious pizza pie.
RAP ALUMNI RATING: 4/5. Just-Ice and Ol’ Dirty Bastard. ‘Nuff said.
LYRIC QUOTE: “Albee Square you couldn’t shop too much cause/Fort Greene would hem ya wreck the fuck on up” O.C. [Crooklyn Dodgers – ‘Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers’]
NAME: Edgemere (aka Ocean Bay Apartments-Bayside)
LOCATION: Almeda Avenue, Queens.
ACTUAL FACTS: Ocean Bay Apartments (Bayside) consists of twenty-four buildings, 7 and 9-stories tall with 1,378 apartments. Completed September 25, 1961, they are home to 3,664 residents.
TOUGH GUY RATING: High. A huge police sting in 2007 saw 34 suspected Bloods arrested on charges ranging from narcotics and weapons possession to robbery, attempted murder and murder. Police seized cocaine, heroin, marijuana, revolvers, rifles and shotguns, and it’s claimed that the organization grossed more than $15,000 per week. Among those charged were Robert “Dead Eye” Baley, the alleged Bloods leader at the Edgemere Houses and an aspiring rapper who calls himself the “Crown King of FR” and “The Boss of Far Rock” in his lyrics. His lieutenant is also a member of 50 Cent’s G-Unit.
RIVALRIES: Locals have long-running feuds with nearby projects, the Beach 41st Street Houses. Apparently the feud goes back for decades, coming to a head in 2003 when a huge brawl erupted at a Times Square club between the residents of both projects, leaving eight people shot and two stabbed.
RAP ALUMNI RATING: 2/5. AK Skills. Neighbouring Far Rockway gave us Rammellzee, MC Serch and…Father MC?
LYRIC QUOTE: “I’m from a place if ya front – brothers will blast if ya diss ’em/Edgemere PJ’s – ya probebly seen us on the system’ – AK Skills ‘Nights of Fear’
NAME: Frederick Douglass
LOCATION: Columbus Avenue, Manhattan (Fredrick Douglass Addition is on Amsterdam Avenue, Manhattan).
ACTUAL FACTS: Completed September 25, 1958, Frederick Douglass I Houses has eleven buildings with 1,303 apartments and is home to 2,753 residents. Frederick Douglass II Houses has six buildings with 753 apartments which house 1,653 residents. Frederick Douglass Addition was built in June 30, 1965, and provides home to another 347 residents.
TOUGH GUY RATING: High. 2005 saw the arrest of the eighteen members of a Douglass Houses’ drug crew, who had been under investigation since a 2003 murder in one of the buildings. Their main enforcer, known as ‘EZ’, was charged with both first degree murder of a rival in 2001 and the attempted murder of another on Christmas Day 2003, which left the victim permanently paralyzed as a result of bullet wounds.
TIME IS RUNNING OUT: With the development of Columbus Village across the way, residents fear that it’s only a matter of time before the Douglass Houses are demolished to make way for “big chain stores and banks.”
RAP ALUMNI RATING: 0/5. Clearly too dangerous to for anyone to bother with making music.
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