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

March 27, 2008


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 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….


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