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Mural of a Young Biggie Could Adorn Key Food Where He Worked as a Kid

By Janet Upadhye | March 11, 2015 9:28am
 Street artist Danielle Mastrion is planning to paint a Biggie Smalls mural on the outside wall of Key Food Market in Clinton Hill where the famous rapper once worked.
Street artist Danielle Mastrion is planning to paint a Biggie Smalls mural on the outside wall of Key Food Market in Clinton Hill where the famous rapper once worked.
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DNAinfo/Janet Upadhye, Danielle Mastrion

CLINTON HILL — A Biggie Smalls mural is planned for Key Food Market where the late rapper bagged groceries as a young boy during the summer — and unlike other well-known Biggie portraits, this mural will depict him in a very different light.

Street artist Danielle Mastrion, who was commissioned to do the painting by Key Food owners, plans to focus on Biggie as a young man in the neighborhood where he grew up — before he became the rap star the world knew.

Biggie, then known as Christopher Wallace, was raised near the corner of St. James Place and Fulton Street in Clinton Hill when it was still considered Bedford-Stuyvesant.

"This is about his roots and not the rap icon that he became," she said. "It will be of him as a child sitting on the steps of his brownstone, like any other kid in the neighborhood."

Mastrion, who is known for her Beastie Boys mural on the Lower East Side and other street art in the city, said she's still mulling a few different options for the mural. She said she might choose to portray Biggie as "a shadow on the corner of St. James and Fulton and the neighborhood will be the focus, not him."

The grocery store is an ideal location to show Biggie as a child because that's where the Grammy nominationed artist once worked, according to Key Food owner Rocky Widdi.

"Biggie was like all the other neighborhood kids — hanging around in the summer, asking if he could bag groceries for tips," he said. "That's what the kids around here used to do."

The mural is being organized by Leroy McCarthy, who is also fighting to have the street corner of St. James Place and Fulton Street named Christopher Wallace Way, and will be located on the sidewall of the apartments above the grocery store.

It is expected to take three days and will be complete in late March when the weather is warmer, Brokelyn first reported.

McCarthy said the mural is a way to honor Biggie who "proudly represented the neighborhood."

"This is where he's from," he said. "Growing up everything he did and everyone he knew was in this five to seven block radius — this mural will honor that history and help keep it alive."