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Celebs or (psuedo)Celebs that live(d) in the Hood Pre-Gentrification

March 27, 2008

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I’d like to start by sayin’…It’s always hard to follow a good crackhead story…lol

Ahhh the dreaded god forsaken G-word. Now when I started this blog I told myself I’d stay away from the G-word for AWHILE. I do have my opinions as does everyone else I’m sure, but we’re going to stay away from that…for now.

            No one can exactly pinpoint when gentrification started in the area. Some would say when Clinton Hill apartment complex went co-op in eighties(As reported in a NY Times in a 1987 article..man I remember that tenant protest..maybe I’ll cover that at a latter time).  Others would say when white people starting living in the area(there was always white people in the area as well as Pratt students, the majority of whom are white).  Both of these opinions would be fallacies in my mind.  Can I pinpoint to when it started? Nope…But for the sake of this post the time will be pre-1998. This is before the up and coming nabe articles, this is before the newer residents were deemed “pioneers” in various publications, this is before you could find sushi ANYWHERE around here. This a list I’ve compiled of “celebs” or high profile people that lived in the neighborhood in or before 1998(Sorry Mr.Grenier!):

April Walker- clothing designer/entrepeneur(I’ve known her ALL my life!)

Erykah Badu- R&B singer(alot of the bohemian, incense burning, headwrap crowd moved to Fort Greene solely on the strength that Ms. Badu resided there)

Common- Hip Hop artist(read above this applies to Common a former flame of Ms.Badu)

Omar Epps-Actor (I don’t know if he lived here after his career took off but I definitely know he lived in the hood in the eighties..he used to go w/ my homegirl Cheryl)

Wesley Snipes-Actor (I think he was on Washington betw. Willoughby and Myrtle)

Spike Lee- Director(represents BK to the fullest!)

Notorious B.I.G-Hip Hop Artist(A personal friend of mine..RIP)

L’il Kim-Hip Hop Artist

L’il Cease-Hip Hop Artist(Another friend from the hood)

dream hampton-Journalist/Writer

Ralph Carter-Actor(Yes little Michael from “Good Times” has lived in St.James Towers as long as I can remember)

Lance “Un” Rivera- Former Record Label Head/Movie Director(His sister and I went to Junior High together)

Talib Kweli-Hip Hop Artist(When I bumped into him in ’98 in front of “The Cunny” he said he used to attend P.S.11 which in on waverly ave.)

Faith Evans-R&B singer(She lived w/ Biggie off of Myrtle before they moved to New Jersey)

Branford Marsalis-Jazz Musician(He lived on Washington ave, the same block as CH library in the late ’80′s…would eventually rent the same place to rap group GangStarr)

Terrence Blanchard-Jazz Musician/Film Score composer(He lived in CH during the same era that Branford did)

GangStarr-Hip Hop Group( This guys were real down to earth when they moved to the hood…DJ Premier is one of the best Hip Hop producers of all time!)

Easy Mo Bee-Hip Hop Producer(Originally from Lafayette Gardens I also recall him staying on Clinton ave..this man has produced for 2pac, Biggie AND Miles Davis…How many people can say that?! Only ONE…Easy Mo)

DJ Mister Cee-Hot 97 DJ(Another product of Lafayette Gardens..former DJ for Big Daddy Kane)

Emmanuel Lewis-Webster(Like the two people that preceded him on this list he also hails from LG…he even attended P.S20 for awhile in the ’80′s)

 Wendell Pierce-Actor(you probably know him as “Bunk” from “The Wire”)

Rosie Perez-Actress(I used to see her all the time riding her bike around…but don’t yell “Moookieee”, it pisses her off lol)

Doug E Doug-Comedian/Actor]

Dana Dane-Rapper(I’m not sure if Dane is from Walt Whitman or Ingersol houses or the eagle buildings off of park ave for that matter..but us longtimers in the nabe refer to em’ ALL as “Fort Greene projects”)

Nelson George-Music Journalist/Author

Ol’ Dirty Bastard-Hip Hop Artist(I used to see him all the time in the 90′s…RIP)

Chris Rock-Comedian(Before that first HBO special blew him up I’d  see him regularly in Associated on waverly ave..guess it was good enough for him)

Ernest Dickerson-Director(I think he’s related to Spike Lee…I loved “Juice”!)

Betty Carter-Jazz Singer(RIP)

Bill Stephney-Hip Hop Producer(Part of the Bomb Squad, who created the soundscape for Public Enemy)

Nick Cruz-Minister(former gang member, now world renowned minister..created several outreach for youths and addicts..there have been several books written about him and two movies)

Isaiah Washington-Actor

Carl Thomas-R&B singer(Real down to earth, he lived on Clinton ave betw. Gates and Greene)

Me’Shell Ndege’Ocello-Singer

Lola Ogunnaike-Journalist/Anchor/Reporter(I PERSONALLY introduced this young lady and her roomate Tia to the hood when they moved here in ’98, I took them around to some block parties and bbq’s so they could get a fell of the Borough and area. I haven’t seen her in some years since her career took but I consider her a friend nonetheless)

Kerry “Krucial” Brothers-Music Producer(Now Krucial who happens to be my 1st cousin is originally from Far Rockaway but he stayed in the hood for a little while…his mother and sisters are still here..he just Executive Produced Alicia Keys latest album)

Digable Planets-Hip Hop Group(They filmed the video “Where I’m From” all around the neighborhood, it’s still one of my favorite videos to this day)

Bill Nunn-Actor(He’s acted in various Spike Lee films plus a host of others)

Chubb Rock-Hip Hop Artist(He lived on St.James between Gates & Greene..He gave this block a shout out on the song “Treat Em’ Right”)

Rahsaan Kelly-Hip Hop Artist(A personal friend, he was in the rap group US3, their song “Cantaloop(Flip Fantasia)” was a global hit, the album it was featured on went on to become the 1st platinum album for jazz label Blue Note records)

 Honorable Mentions:

Richard Wright-Author(He wrote “Native Son” while living on Carlton ave.)

John Steinbeck-Author(1st apartment when he moved to NYC was on Fort Greene Place)

 Feel free to let me know who I may have missed….

19 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2008 12:17 am

    Joie Lee still lives in the neighborhood, i think. she’s a celeb in my book!

  2. All business permalink
    March 28, 2008 3:27 am

    I got a few:
    Chuck Rock (I think he used to stay with a chick that lived on St. James btw Gates and Greene back in the late ’80′s)
    Butterfly of Digable Underground (Though he’s not originally from the ‘hood,’ he was around for a minute..I played ball with him a few times in mid ninetees)
    Rahsaan Kelly of US3 (Came out with that one international hit “Flip Fantasia”…dude we used to be around a lot as youngsters actually…like prepubescent and sometime after)
    Bill Nunn (Radio Raheem of Do The Right Thing (also done locally in our beloved hometown) fam…I used to see him a lot in late 80′s)
    You got me feeling real nostalgic right now homey!

  3. la duchessa permalink
    March 28, 2008 3:36 am

    jeffrey wright (basquiat, etc) lives on vanderbilt…

  4. bknesto permalink
    March 28, 2008 12:03 pm

    la duchessa,
    I am aware the Jeffrey Wright lives in the neighborhood. But I wasn’t sure if he was here in 1998 or prior so he didn’t make the list.

  5. bknesto permalink
    March 28, 2008 3:11 pm

    Yeah All Business,
    I’ll have to add Rahsaan Kelly from US3, CHUBB Rock(He even made reference to this on the song “Treat Em’Right”) plus Digable Planets and Bill Nunn. I actually tried to kick to Ladybug Mecca when I saw her in the hood in the 90′s. Rahsaan was my dude, he actually held me down one time from some decepticons(Decepts will be a whole series on this blog in itself).

  6. March 28, 2008 4:12 pm

    Malik Yoba lives in the hood

  7. bknesto permalink
    March 28, 2008 5:25 pm

    I don’t think Malik Yoba lived here during time period stated. Thanks for the comment though Rizzle.

  8. March 28, 2008 8:14 pm

    Jazz musicians Steve Coleman, Robin Eubanks, and Terri Lyne Carrington were all around in the ’80s…

  9. clinton hill diva permalink
    March 28, 2008 8:42 pm

    Branford and his ex-wife hosted really great parties.

  10. bknesto permalink
    March 28, 2008 9:03 pm

    Aww man Branford and Theresa broke up…I remember seeing her in the hood, dressed like Jodi Watley lol. She swore up and down I looked like Robert Townsend(not at ALL!),she said she was going to tell him if he ever needed a kid to play him in one of his movies to use me lol.

  11. bree permalink
    March 29, 2008 10:16 pm

    I think all the celebs pregentrification were mentioned. How about a list of the celebs that reside in Ft.Greene/Clinton Hill/Bedstuy/Parkslope now.Thanks.

  12. bknesto permalink
    March 30, 2008 8:20 am

    Just remembered a few more..music video director benny boom, access hollywood reporter aj calloway(They were roomates) and Hakim of rap group Channel Live. Just thought of one more, Terrance Howard who used to live in Willoghby Walk.

  13. kat permalink
    March 31, 2008 8:38 pm

    I thought Gordon Parks lived close by- any truth to this?

  14. Stilts permalink
    April 3, 2008 4:07 pm

    Mos Def used to live in CH.

  15. Darling Nikki permalink
    April 17, 2008 6:29 am

    memories!!!
    I’m not from Clinton Hill but I’m a true Brooklynite so I have known or crossed paths with a few of these folks.

    1. Ol Dirty Bastard – grew up with him in the East, in Linden Plaza a/k/a “The Land”, yup I’m a Plaza Gurl..lol Russell was known as Dirty Russell from the twelvth floor (God bless the dead).. later changing his name to Unique. His older brother Randy tutored me in math (hey maybe i should tell him that I’m now a math teacher, thanks Randy!!!) Miss Cherry (Russells mom used to make us cheerleading outfits, so we could go to Pink houses, Cypress and Brownsville so we could battle those girls.

    2.Biggie and I went to St. Peter Claver’s together (on Claver Plc)..I remember him making fun of us second graders cause we were casted as the yellow brick road in the school play. ( yeah I said the road )

    3.Mos Def – Dante went to Philipa Schyluer (sp?) with y best friend. I used to see him all the time on the bus.

    4.Omar Epps – was my high school sweethearts dawg. I dont know if he was from Farragut but my boyfirend was and they also went to Laguardia HS together. We all actually got together to support Omars first film “Juice” & I teased him like “baby your man played a punk for the first half of the movie”

    There are some other people that I am at a lost for their names right now… I will describe them as best as I can.

    This guy went to Bishop Laughlin but I’m unsure if he lived in CH. He played ball for the NY Knicks in the late 90′s.

    Then, this singing group from Farragut..think Jodeci but not Jodeci..they were always in the talents shows down at the that boys club in farragut… they actually had an album and one hit song.

    I cant remember if the Ultramagnetic MC’s were from CH but I used to always run into them down in the Fort… I forget the dudes name but every summer I would run into him. I havent seen him for about 5 years now.

    I know there are more folks to add to this list!

  16. Elephant permalink
    April 21, 2010 11:03 pm

    What about all the white people who used to live here pre-degentrification?

  17. K Mayo permalink
    July 2, 2010 3:23 am

    dont forget the queen bee and the brown foxx.
    writer/personality toure lived next to me on washington park in the early mid 90′s.
    mad music industry folk too were here i’d say from 91-98. jac benson (yo mtv raps producer) wendell haskins, too many to name. i lived on clinton and myrtle from 97-99, washington park 94 – 96 but im from bk born in lindsay park in williamsburg but we didnt call it that, flatbush where i first learned to respect and love westindian brooklyn culture, then crown heights of off eastern parkway in the mid 80s, and im proud to be back there in my family home today.

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