A 9-foot version of the “King of New York” now regally welcomes drivers crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. Located at the foot of the bridge in DUMBO, Sherwin Banfield’s Biggie Smalls sculpture “Sky’s the Limit in the County of Kings” pays tribute to the late hip hop legend Christopher “The Notorious B.I.G” Wallace. The mixed-media sculpture highlights Biggie Smalls’ contributions to Brooklyn and his lasting artistic legacy.
Towering over the northeast corner of Prospect Street and Washington Street, the new sculpture is made of stainless steel, bronze, and other materials. It features a traditionally sculptured bronze bust with his face gazing upward toward the Manhattan skyline. The bust is placed atop an angular steel frame. The base of the sculpture includes pieces that tell the story of B.I.G.’s short but impactful musical career. Embedded in resin is a C.D. of B.I.G.’s album ready to die, just below a window that allows you to see a glowing neon heart inside the sculpture. The heart is emblazoned with the words “spread love.” An audio system, which pays homage to the boomboxes of hip hop’s early days, plays a selection of Notorious B.I.G hits.
The sculpture portrays Biggie as the King of New York with a crown on his head and a golden royal scepter in hand. In the other hand, he holds a gilded anatomical heart. The shape of the stainless steel panels of the base of the sculpture creates a cape-like form.
Throughout the year, Biggie’s 50th birthday has been acknowledged through many different tributes around the city. Limited edition Metro-Cards featuring Biggie were released in May, and the Empire State Building lit up white and red on May 21st to honor the day.
The artist Sherwin Banfield hopes that the Biggie Smalls sculpture will inspire other Brooklynites to pursue their creative goals. Banfield says, “‘It was all a dream,’ the opening lyric from The Notorious B.I.G.’s hit track ‘Juicy,’ exemplifies my dream of creating this monument…Delivering this project means so much to me personally, my story and artistic development as well as countless fans of Hip-Hop Culture who continue to be positively affected and influenced by the communal experiences and sonic frequencies of B.I.G.’s artistry. I cherish the significance of the potential impact on young children of color who will have an opportunity to experience a public sculpture that represents and reflects their identity, circumstance and/or dreams.”