MetroCards will be going the way of the mighty subway token in just a few years, but you still have some time to appreciate the thin plastic passes that have aided New Yorkers in navigating the transit system for the last 25 years. And if you have any affection built up for the magnetic stripe cards and/or know all the words to "Ten Crack Commandments" by heart, you won't want to miss out on the MTA's latest offering: special edition MetroCards featuring The Notorious B.I.G.
The cards will be made available starting this Saturday, May 21st, in honor of what would have been Biggie's 50th birthday. They will only be available at four subway stations near his old Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood: Lafayette Avenue, both Clinton – Washington Ave. stations, and Atlantic Ave. – Barclays Center.
An MTA spokesperson told Gothamist there will only be 50,000 commemorative Biggie MetroCards released at the four stations. They're going to be randomly loaded into the MetroCard vending machines and "customers are not guaranteed" to get one, so you may have to try your luck a few times to snag one.
The MTA has had several very successful limited edition MetroCard promos like this over the years, including collaborations with and tributes to Game Of Thrones, Paul McCartney, Wu-Tang Clan, and David Bowie. Other popular special edition MetroCards have commemorated the return of Twin Peaks, Supreme collectibles, and Barbara Kruger's side hustle.
In addition, one Clinton – Washington Ave. Station will also get a Biggie-inspired takeover from Amazon Music starting that day, with art based on the iconic “King of New York” photo (the one in which Biggie is wearing a crown) by Barron Claiborne. Back in 2018, a similar station takeover honored Bowie at the Broadway-Lafayette subway station in Manhattan.
There will be other Biggie celebrations around the city to watch out for. On May 20th, the Empire State Building will host a ceremony that will include Biggie’s mother Voletta Wallace, his children (CJ and Tyanna Wallace) and other friends and associates, including Lil’ Cease and Lil Kim.
The next day, the Empire State Building will change its lights to red and white, with a crown spinning in its mast. That same day, Barclays Center will honor the rapper with a video montage of classic Biggie records on the oculus display above the arena’s entrance.
And on June 10th, Lincoln Center will host a free orchestral tribute to Biggie, with appearances by The Originals and other special guests, and music arranged and conducted by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. (That event will also be livestreamed on Amazon's Twitch.) That event coincides with the release of the Life After Death 25th Anniversary Super Deluxe box set.