Report: Family of late Bronx rapper renew efforts to have street named in his honor
The family of late rapper Big Punisher is relaunching an effort to have a Bronx street named in his honor.
[twitter=RIPBigPun]Big Pun[/twitter]‘s sister, Nicole Rodriguez, wants to have E. 163rd St. and Rogers Place in Longwood dubbed “Big Pun Place.”
“I feel I owe this to my brother,” she said. “He was not only my brother, he was a father figure. He stepped in when my parents couldn’t. So I want to push for this. He deserves it.”
Rodriguez is collecting signatures at www.bigpunplace.com. Since starting her campaign on Feb. 21, she’s gathered more than 1,200 signatures.
The street name is important to his still-growing fan base, Rodriguez said.
“It would become a visual cemetery for everyone. My brother was cremated, so there’s nowhere to visit him,” she said. “This way, his legacy will live on close to home.”
This Saturday at 1 p.m., a rally to support the naming will be held at the corner, where a popular mural marks Pun’s hangout.
Big Pun died of a heart attack on Feb. 7, 2000 when he was just 28 years old. Some reports put his weight at nearly 700 pounds.
Born Christopher Rios, Big Punisher grew up in Soundview. He was the first Latino solo rapper to sell more than a million records. His album “Capital Punishment,” which debuted in 1998, was nominated for a Grammy.
His achievements were nothing short of incredible, said rapper Triple Seis, who like Big Pun was a member of the rap group Terror Squad.
“I think he really deserves this because he made such an impact in the community,” he said.
For Triple Seis, born Sammy Garcia, the push is personal, too.
“Christopher was more than just an artist to me, he was a best friend, a brother,” he said. “Whenever I needed something, I could count on him. It’s only right for me to fight for him.”
In the summer of 2000, several fans launched the first street naming effort. While the measure had some backing, the city eventually shot down the idea, calling Big Pun’s lyrics “racy and violent.”
Speaking from her home in Orlando, Fla., this week, his mother, Gail Tirado, defended her son’s songs.
“If you listened to his lyrics, he also talked about struggles, about family life, about strife, about poverty and overcoming,” she said. “He rapped about reality. He spoke the truth.”
Tirado and Rodriguez will go before Community Board 2 next month to plead the case.
“I want them to know that he was a regular person with imperfections and flaws like anyone else,” Rodriguez said. “If you have to be perfect to have a street named after you, then they would have to knock down every street here because no one is perfect.”