Rapper Pumpkinhead Gets Proper Send-Off During Brooklyn Street Naming
Brooklyn’s own, Pumpkinhead, real name Robert Diaz, made an impact in hip-hop the moment his demo tape reached the hands of Bobbito Garcia of the Stretch & Bobbito Show on WKCR. His passing last year in June, while waiting to undergo a gall stone surgery, shocked the hip-hop community and brought out many familiar faces to sing his praises. Over this past weekend, those same people plus the Park Slope community who loved him came out to celebrate his life by naming a street in his honor.
“This is all he ever wanted, and all he ever asked for,” said longtime friend, rapper and journalist Mr. Mecc. “Not the accolades, not the deal, not the money. But his people standing next to each other, having a good time.” Over 100 friends, family and admirers stormed the corner of DeGraw Avenue and 4th Avenue in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood on Saturday morning, April 23. On DeGraw between 4th and 5th, PH grew up, experienced ups and downs and now, it was officially renamed Robert “PH” Diaz Way.
For those unaware, his breakthrough single, “Dynamic,” was released in 1997 and quickly became a mixtape staple. The World Famous Beat Junkies featured the remix with Poka Face, Meat Pie, Ocean, What? What?, CES, DCQ and The Bad Seed on The World Famous Beat Junkies, Vol. 2 in 1998. He would go on to appear as a guest on several other hip-hop albums by the likes of Immortal Technique (Revolutionary Vol. 1 + Vol. 2), Jean Grae (The Bootleg of the Bootleg) and Dave Z and Lantz to name a few.
His comical punchlines and skills earned him the respect of his peers, and many loved ones used the dedication as an opportunity to share testimonies about Diaz. Once the street sign was unveiled, everyone gravitated towards the Brooklyn bar, Littlefield, for a party with food, libation and DJs who blended in Pumpkinhead into their sets. Immortal Technique, Talib Kweli, Jean Grae, producer Marco Polo and PackFM were some of the notable faces who were in attendance.
Months of work were put in for this to happen as longtime friend, Claudia “CL Smoothie” Imperiale suggested the idea of renaming the street with PH’s name. After starting a petition in July 2015 to collect signatures, the dream became a reality. “I didn’t want them to just think, some rapper from Park Slope, his friends think he should have a block named after him,” Imperiale said to Billboard. “I thought it was important that they knew exactly who he was, what he stood for and what he represented.” Talib Kweli, who went to elementary school with Diaz, began his rap career around the same time as PH. “He had as much influence on his community as his community had on him,” Kweli said, “and you can see it literally by the fact thatt he has a street named after him.”