Jay-Z’s latest single, The Blueprint 3’s “Empire State of Mind,” has been blaring from plenty of cars of late, and while the soaring, cinematic tour of Jay’s rise to success, fame, and his subsequent enjoyment of the most sought-after seats at local sporting events (“I could trip a referee”) hasn’t turned rap on its head, the rapper does do something unique: He drops an actual address in among the self-aggrandizement and neighborhood shout-outs.
I used to cop in Harlem, all of my Dominicanos
Right there up on Broadway, pull me back to that McDonald’s
Took it to my stash spot, 560 State Street
Catch me in the kitchen like a Simmons with them pastries.
The whole world knows Jigga grew up in the Marcy Projects in Bedford-Stuyvesant. So why is he bigging up Boerum Hill? What exactly is at 560 State Street? Vulture investigated.
“I guess after Reasonable Doubt, it was time [for Jay-Z] to move somewhere else,” says Morgan Lieberthal, a resident of 560 State Street since 1997 (who also saw Jay-Z in concert at Madison Square Garden last week). According to him and other residents who have been there since the mid-nineties, Jay moved into apartment 10B sometime in late 1996 or early 1997.
Allowing for the obvious narrative liberties a rapper might take, the 500 block of Brooklyn’s State Street would seem to be an ideal location for a stash spot. Sheltered from the roaring intersection of Flatbush, Atlantic, and Fourth Avenue, this serene, verdant brownstone block is hidden in plain sight. It’s just steps from the busiest intersection in Brooklyn, and yet the only consistent noise is the five-times-daily call to prayer from a mosque across the block on Atlantic Avenue.
Did it seem like Jay-Z was engaged in anything shady? “That was just so not the vibe,” says Stephanie Jones, a writer and performer living in 9A since 1993. She remembers the apartment complex as an enclave for black artists at the time, including Lord Jamar of the rap group Brand Nubian and later of HBO’s Oz. She recalls a building populated with filmmakers and musicians. And Jay was, by all accounts, a cordial and respectful neighbor. “He would nod his head to you in the hallway. He’d open the door for you,” says Jones’s husband, Nathan Dudley, a Brooklyn school principal who moved into the building in 1998. “He always had a group of people with him, but not many going in and out.”
Dudley says that over the past few days he has seen kids in front of the building, awestruck and pointing, and employees at the Radio Shack around the corner, arguing over Jay-Z’s connection to the address. At the time he lived there, “he wasn’t mainstream or commercial yet,” says Jones. “He worked out of his apartment. Everyone here did. It was just a normal thing.”
Editor’s note: This post originally misquoted Jay-Z’s phrase as “stash box,” not “stash spot.”