Hip-Hop History: Grand Army Plaza


I peeped Mos Def’s video for “History” yesterday—one of the standout tracks from The Ecstatic—and among the iconic images included in the clip was one of my favorite Brooklyn landmarks, Grand Army Plaza. Like Junior’s and the defunct Albee Square Mall, The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch has served as a familiar setting for many rap video shoots throughout the years. That’s right, it’s time for another list. BROOKLYN STAND UP!!!

’88 3rd Bass “Brooklyn Queens” – Twenty-two years ago girls would give MC Serch and Pete Nice the gas face from the Q-Borough all the way to the Plaza.  

’89 Special Ed “I Got It Made” – Not only was this BK MC special, he was also magnificent, so you know he had it made under the Arch’s shade.

’95 Smif-N-Wessun “Wreckognize Remix” – Don’t blink or you might miss the Grand Army cameo in this Spike Lee-influenced tour of Bucktown.

’98 Black Star “Definition” – Loooooord, these cats love them some Grand Army. 

’08 Maino “Hi Hater” – Hi Brooklyn


Bonus – ‘95 Mic Geronimo “Wherever You Are” – Mic came down from Queens to return his library books and shoot this clip right across the street. 

What are some of your favorite recurring backdrops from rap videos?

Cool points for anyone that can remember the video that Heavy D shot in the Plaza? —Jesse Gissen

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  • http://www.pleasedontstare.com benhameen

    The joint that Craig Mack shot Flava in Your Ear in front of. That globe. Think Beasties used it for the first LP and someone else.

    Or your mommas house.

  • illphillip

    That Globe is in Flushing Meadow Park in Queens. Organized Konfusion shot “Fudge Pudge” there. My favorite is the Soldier’s and Sailors Monument on 89-90th + Riverside. Think a couple of vids were done there. King Sun’s “Be Black” was shot there for sure.

  • th!z

    yea the flushing globe is (was) to queens what the arch is to brooklyn… great shit here, feels good to be a brooklynite, even with all the damn gentrification..

  • Jhon da Analyst

    The Colosseum………165th St. Jamaica Ave! The spot where Wu shot Ice Cream at. Used to shop out there all the time.

  • El Tico Loco

    Purple Ribbon All Stars (kryptonite) in front of the 20grand (now Walmart) on Old Natl.

    Actually every “it” club in Atlanta has had video(or person) shot in it.

  • dolo

    Woulda been nice if Jeru’s video woulda had a drawing of it in “Can’t Stop the Prophet” since he does shout it out..

  • http://daily-math.com Combat Jack

    Nothing beats BK all day. The other landmark that was extra special was the late Twin Towers. RIP WTC.

  • $ykotic/Don McCaine

    Yo Jess I can’t remember that Heavy D video…

    But you got me on flashback status. The old Loews Theatre, when that Macy’s was A & S, copping 14k fronts from Grandma, before they made Fulton St. look like a strip mall…good post.

  • El Tico Loco

    Temple No. 7 on Wake up by Brand Nubian

  • http://gasface.wordpress.com Gasface

    Around the world in a new york minute : The Unisphere :


  • http://www.incilin.com Incilin

    Interesting post. Props for writing about something most people overlook.

  • Worley

    The Rock on Farmers and Liberty in Queens. LL has that in quite a few of his videos.

    Can’t forget the section of Linden Blvd between Farmers and Franny Lew in Queens. Tribe shot “Check the Rhime” on 192nd in front of Nu-Clear Cleaners. LL shot part of “Hey Lover” at the bus stop on Linden and Farmers. Nas shot “Hate Me Now” on 201st. Main Source did “Hangin’ Out” on 204th. Parts of Belly were shot on Franny Lew and Linden. Best times of my life on that boulevard.

  • Brooklyn

    this ain’t a recurring backdrop, but that laundromat in shyne’s video for “that’s gangsta” on kings highway was where me and my cousins used to do laundry on the weekends. i remember when he shot it over there, though i didn’t know who the hell he was at the time.

  • http://www.bc-tw.blogspot.com bctw

    Mad rappers used to shoot videos on Broadway in the Village south of 8th street where there were mad stores and that McDonald’s is still there. Think Chi-Ali Age Ain’t Nothing… check the video at 3:05 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBYkWnHSA98. Others were filmed there too, just can’t recall right now.

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  • http://www.dollarvandemos.com Dollar Van Demos

    Please don’t forget our music videos up & down Flatbush, circling GAP in every clip. Good ones to check out is Final Outlaw’s ‘Hip Hop 4Ever’ and Misnomers ‘WooHoo’

  • http://www.twitter.com/finaldraft vr

    Yes…very nice!

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