If you're lucky and you live in New York City, you might have seen Jay Shells' red signs marking infamous intersections of hip hop lyricism. If you're not particularly lucky or you don't live in New York, at least there's the Internet.
From Big Daddy Kane to Jigga man, Shells pulled direct quotes from the great aristocracy of mic controllers, physically geo-tagging them at their exact referential locations.
In the modern, globalized era of hip hop we find ourselves in, we've moved on from such localized precision and Gotham-centric lyricism. Which is cool; that's the nature of things. Instead of stash spots, Drake raps about cups (of codeine) inside of cups. Instead of government-subsidized housing, Kid Cudi laments his struggles with depression and anxiety.
In the midst of this artistic progress, New York remains the epicenter and gravitational singularity that the genre swirls around. Particularly Brookyln, where Jay-Z, Biggie, Mos Def, and others reign supreme.
Sure, hipsters have had their day in Brooklyn, but, lest we forget, here are some of the most interesting rap landmarks in New York City's most populace borough:
1. 560 State Street
Jay-Z's stash spot — as revealed on Empire State of Mind with the line "Took it to my stash spot / 560 State Street" — was a place he frequented during his drug-dealing days. Perhaps he stashed his cash here, or maybe this is where he stashed his eggshell white. Or, perhaps this is where Shawn Carter forever left behind his ability to grow facial hair.
2. Brooklyn Zoo
Ol' Dirty Bastard made this moniker famous to the rest of us with his conveniently titled gem, Brooklyn Zoo. Apparently, Big Baby Jesus and his Wu Tang Clan used the term to reference the entirety of the Brooklyn borough. Or, is it possible that the Clan just really enjoyed visiting the creatures of Prospect Park Zoo? ODB loved the great horned owl.
3. Marcy Projects
"From Marcy to Madison Square," boasts Jay on The Black Album. His rags-to-riches tale began at the corner of Park and Marcy Avenues in Bed-Stuy, where a young Mr. Carter originally got his Rain Main on. Nowadays, Jay spends his time changing gold-threaded diapers in a Tribeca loft. Not too shabby.
4. George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School
Home to the scholarly pursuits of Jay, Biggie Smalls, and Busta Rhymes, this high school probably features the most incredible bathroom-stall inscriptions known to modern America. Also, rumor has it, there was an English teacher on staff in the 80s named Mr. Shakespeare. Hmmm.
5. Barclays Center
It's the architectural manifestation of hip hop's truly immense power and influence. From a back-to-school party in the early 1970s to center court at this brand-new Bucktown arena, rap's made it. "When I bring the Nets, I'm the black Branch Rickey," prophesied Jay on 2008's Brooklyn Go Hard. He did. He is.