In our quest to bring you the best tourist stops one city at a time, UrbLife.com has teamed with rap icon Kool G Rap to get his list of must-visit spots in Queens, New York! With over two decades full of classic Hip Hop music under his belt, Kool G Rap will celebrate the release of his fifth solo album Riches, Royalty & Respect in 2011.
“That’s basically what every human desires, mostly men,” G Rap laughs. “There have been wars throughout history based upon those principals. This album is touching on my personal life, and it’s also just being G Rap in a real 2011 kind of way. It’s sticking to the essence – all the elements that I’ve been credited with as a lyricist, you’ll get that. I’m 100% satisfied with it.”
A native of Queens’ Corona neighborhood, the 42-year-old performer is equally as enthusiastic about the rich history of his hometown, and has some suggestions (in no particular order) for eating and shopping along the way!
Here is his rundown to ‘Run This Town‘ in New York’s biggest, and possibly most unique borough!
“It’s a big strip, you can go up and down to see store after store,” explains Kool G Rap.
When it was founded in 1984, the Colosseum marked a new boom for shopping in the Jamaica, Queens area. Both LL Cool J and the Wu-Tang Clan filmed videos there (“Hush” and “Ice Cream” respectively), and many celebs have shopped at the 120+ stores over the years including Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Run DMC.
“Those are all the ill shopping spots,” Kool G Rap asserts, and he’s not kidding! The three-level Queens Center underwent an over $275 million expansion less than 10 years ago to become the largest shopping mall in Queens, and is complete with a huge food court and indoor play area for the kids.
Green Acres incorporates two levels of shops into 1.8 million square feet of retail space, and it has a food court as well! They host a Kids Club for children 5-10 years old – definitely something worth looking into if you’re staying in the area for long.
“Jean’s is a reputable spot,” G Rap explains. “They’ve got pictures of different artists up on their wall… like, LL Cool J used to go there back in the day as well as myself. So many different people go there.”
“If you’re a sports fan, you’ll definitely want to go there, it’s legendary.”
Although Shea Stadium was demolished in 2009 to make way for the shiny new Citi Field, there is still plenty for tourists to enjoy in the area. Before you enter the doors for a Mets game, you’ll want to stop by the commemorative home plate that remains in the parking lot where Shea once stood.
Here is a quick history lesson video from Journal News, done before Shea was demolished.
“It’s extremely big – they had the World Fair there back in the day,” says G Rap. Thus, the eye-catching “Unisphere” which was erected for the 1964 World’s Fair. You can spend days at Flushing Meadows visiting the Wildlife Center, Queens Museum of Art and New York Science Center, not to mention unique statues and art spread over 1,255 acres of land.
The park is also home to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which contains the Arthur Ashe Stadium. If you’re a tennis fan, then you’ve probably tuned into plenty of games being played at this world-famous venue!
“That’s touching on history, the house they firebombed is right there!” exclaims Kool G Rap. It was a fateful day in 1965 when someone threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of Malcolm X’s family home.
“I used to pass his crib when I was a little kid,” says Kool G Rap. “He had his own image carved out on his front gate. It was something else, knowing Louis Armstrong lived in that house.”
Although it was deemed a national historic landmark in 1976, the jazz legend’s home was actually opened to the public as a museum in 1994. It is currently open for business six days per week, closed on Mondays.