Walking on Pins: The Hallowed Ground of NY Rap Nightlife

Nightclubs in the Big Apple are hallowed ground for hip-hop’s most heated confrontations. Where they once stood as the place where you could see the “it” rapper of the moment perform live, is probably now a restaurant chain, garage, or some property where the rent is too damn high. Word to Jimmy McMillan. What happened to these former hip-hop landmarks? For starters, somebody probably got shot, stabbed, or the venue just plain lost their liquor license. The most famous of clubs to close in recent weeks is W.i.P., and Greenhouse. The bar room brawl between Chris Brown and Drake’s crews shuttered the doors of one of the most vibrant places to hear the city’s best DJs, and ogle the opposite sex. There hasn’t been a closing of this magnitude, under these violent circumstances since the ’90s and early ’00s. Though unlike hot spots Kit Kat Club and Pizza Bar, Greenhouse and W.i.P., haven’t turned into a garage or eatery (thankfully!). We hear they’re actually going to reopen very soon. But before New York City toasts to the douchebags that started the mess in the first place, UPNORTHTRIPS takes you back to the infamous nights at some of the most famous nightclubs in hip-hop.

Club New York Times Square New York

Club New York | 252 W. 43rd St, New York, NY

Tipping Point: Shyne Fires Shots

Immortalized on Wax: “I heard Irv trying to sign Shyne so I don’t have no love for him, tell him 50 said he’s soft, he won’t shoot up the club again.” – 50 Cent, “Piggy Bank”

It was one of the darkest nights of Diddy, J. Lo, Shyne and everyone else who went out to party in December of 1999. It made headlines for months. Mainstream press from The New York Times to all the major TV outlets were covering it. The Times Square nightclub didn’t stay open very long after Shyne was hauled off to the slammer for firing shots on that crowded night. With Shyne being one of the most coveted rappers behind bars, he was courted by Irv Gotti and Murder Inc.—50 Cent’s arch rivals. It became fodder for his raps, which should come to no surprise. The real kicker here though, is the irony of a strip club called Cheetah’s now open on the block, taking the name of the other Cheetah nightclub down in Chelsea that was big in the ’90s.

Meatpacking District Pizza Bar

Pizza Bar | 50 9th Avenue, New York, NY

Tipping Point: Remy Ma vs. Makeda Barnes-Joseph (friend)

Immortalized on Wax: ???

There’s something about Remy. Homegirl was one of the illest to wield a mic, but she also was packing heat in NYC’s Meatpacking district. What seemed to be a good night went sour when Remy shot her “friend” Makeda for allegedly jackin’ cheese from her purse. Granted their altercation didn’t take place at Pizza Bar, but it was the last place they were seen before the shooting. As it turns out, there were other factors involved in the owner closing up shop. “Roy [Liebenthal] sold back the lease… that Apple store made people a ton of money. It was good timing for him and a great opportunity for him to focus on expanding the Pop Burger brand nationally,” says Eater.

Terminal 5 Nightclub

Carbon | 610 W 56th St, New York, NY (Now Terminal 5)

Tipping Point: Terror Squad vs. Roc-A-Fella

Immortalized On Wax: “Chose to be the dumb nigga at the party, too much Bacardi, started speakin dumb. Then you tried to snuff Joe—must have been Puerto Rican rum.” – Big Pun, “100%”

Fat Joe and Jay-Z don’t click. Cuban Link, who once waved his Terror Squad flag with as much pride as the Puerto Rican Day Parade, went on ThisIs50 and spoke about the incident where Big Pun allegedly confronted Jay-Z for flaking on performing at Carbon. Fat Joe also spoke on the root of his rivalry with Jay-Z in the documentary about the Holcombe Rucker Park, expressing his dislike for the way Jay-Z tried to give his team competition. Jiggaman also recruited former Terror Squad players to his Roc-A-Fella ball team. That didn’t sit right with Joe. Aside from hoops, Carbon which has undergone many-a-facelift and name change, is still standing to this day, now known as Terminal 5, but you might also know it as Club Exit, or Club Black, or that place where the R-O-C and TS butted heads.

*Rumor has it, there is an alternate version of Nas’ “Ether” that addressed the confrontation with Jay and Big Pun. The streets are saying things here.

Kit Kat Club New York City

Kit Kat Club | 124 W. 43d St, New York, NY

Tipping Point: Jay-Z vs. Lance “Un” Rivera

Immortalized On Wax: “Your man stabbed Un and made you take the blame. You ass, went from Jaz to hanging with Kane.” Nas, “Ether”

Crazy how in the same year Diddy, Shyne and company were on trial for a shooting, Jay-Z got arrested for stabbing Lance “Un” Rivera at the Kit Kat Club. It was on the night when Q-Tip held his album release party for Amplified. Stretch Armstrong was the resident DJ at the time. It was a club not too far from Speeed, which was also in and out of the news for fights, but nothing to the degree of the altercation with one of the soon-to-be greatest rappers of all time who admitted to the stabbing, treating Un like a voodoo doll. What’s left of the Kit Kat Club is just the memory of this night that forged it into history, and a garage.

Irving Plaza Concert Venue New York City

Irving Plaza | 17 Irving Place, New York, NY

Tipping Point: Ol Dirty Bastard vs. Black Thought

The Juan Epstein Show pretty much summed up (48:09 mark) the altercation that got The Roots ’86’d from Irving Plaza in Union Square. Black Thought’s side of the story goes,

“We brought ODB out, he just got out of jail, one of those first times he had been arrested. We were big fans. We always play people’s joints, and have ’em come out. We had ODB come on, and he rocked. He got on stage, he did the song, and he did what he was famous for, which was just stopping in the middle of the song, and just doing some real ignorant shit. He got real ignorant. Some of the women in the audience started leaving. So it was a thing where I wanted to take the mic back from him. He ain’t wanna give the mic up. We got it back. We got him on stage. We finished the set. At the end of the set he jumped back on stage. There was a little back and forth—nothing really came of it. It was awkward. I was disappointed because I knew MTV was there. It was one of our first times getting clocked…that kind of coverage. I didn’t want it to be like, “Oh, this is what hip-hop acts do.” So I didn’t wanna slide him on TV, but it was really close to that. It was back and forth, there were bottles involved, the displaying of firearms, shit like that.”

?uestlove also said in the interview from 2011, “We’re still not allowed back there because someone from Mobb Deep tagged up the wall on the side.”

Black Thought’s perspective gives one side of the story. But Smokeurobinson’s description of what took place at Irving Plaza is worth reading out loud.

The Tunnel club Hip-Hop

The Tunnel | 686 W. 27th St., New York, NY

Tipping Point: Mobb Deep vs. Keith Murray

Immortalized on Wax: “Screamin out loud for any squad that’s def.” – Mobb Deep, “Man Down”

You could cherry pick any night at The Tunnel where you could cut the tension with a knife. Every Sunday it was “tuck your chain in season,” because the wolves came out to party to the sounds of Funkmaster Flex on the main floor where hip-hop really lived. Aside from the night where a dude in a wheelchair shot himself, putting the nail in the coffin for The Tunnel, the fight between Mobb Deep and Keith Murray also created a stir between both their crews. Things done changed, or have they?


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