The Tale of a Hidden Mural and the Legacy of Rap Icons


In the heart of urban storytelling, murals stand as silent yet eloquent tributes to legends who've shaped our culture. Nestled in the bustling streets of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, a masterpiece once vividly captured the essence of four American rap icons - Tupac Shakur, Pop Smoke, Nipsey Hussle, and the Notorious B.I.G. Each, a comet in the vast sky of music, their lives brutally snuffed out, leaving behind a legacy as enduring as the art that commemorates them.

The Notorious B.I.G., born in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, met a tragic end in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in 1997, aged merely 24. Tupac Shakur, another prodigy from East Harlem, was killed in Las Vegas over 28 years ago at 25. Pop Smoke, a young star from Canarsie, Brooklyn, had his life cut short at 20 during a robbery in Los Angeles in 2020. Nipsey Hussle, aged 33, was shot in the parking lot of his store, The Marathon Clothing, in LA, in 2019.

This mural, titled "East Coast West Coast Legends," was a visual symphony by artists Easy Gonzalez and Zermillion. It wasn't just a painting; it was a dialogue across generations, a melding of stories and souls, a canvas where the gritty reality of life and the permanence of death met in a poignant embrace.

But, in a twist as abrupt as the lives it celebrated, this mural was obscured, not by the inexorable march of time, but by the all-too-common veil of commercialism. An advertisement for a local salon, a plastic skin, unceremoniously draped over the mural, hiding it from the public eye. This act, seemingly mundane in a city that breathes capitalism, feels almost sacrilegious to those who understand the depth of what now lies hidden.

The space, currently occupied by Keratin NYC Hair, was previously Rock Paper, a barbershop. This recent change, as observed through the lens of Google Street View, marks a transformation not just of a storefront but of a cultural landmark. As the cold months promise to give way to warmer days, there's hope that this veil will be lifted, revealing once again the vibrant homage beneath. One can't help but wonder about the state of the mural underneath - will it be preserved as it was, or will it bear scars mirroring those of the lives it represents?

The loss of these icons, much like the veiling of the mural, speaks to the transient nature of life and art. Yet, their impact, their voices, resonate beyond their physical presence, much like the mural itself, waiting to be rediscovered and celebrated once more. The story of this hidden gem is not just about a painting; it's about remembering, about legacy, and about the indelible mark left by those who are no longer with us. As we await the uncovering of this urban treasure, we are reminded of the power of art to keep memories alive, to provoke thought, and to connect us across time and space.

Stay tuned as we anticipate the revival of this tribute, a beacon of memory and hope in the ever-changing landscape of Brooklyn, a testament to legends whose voices continue to echo in the hearts of many.


1. Marlene, "Rappers on the Wall on 85th Street in Bay Ridge", September 25, 2020, Queen of the Click


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