Rikers Island, the island jail complex located between Queens and The Bronx, became a notorious household name in the hip hop community when Lil Wayne spent eight months in the prison for a gun possession charge. However, for New York natives (rappers and fans alike) the prison was already infamous for its brutal treatment of prisoners and gang-ridden community. Now, Mayor Bill De Blasio has announced plans to shutter the jail.

This will not be an easy task, which De Blasio acknowledged in a press conference today, as well as in a series of tweets. The prison has been criticized heavily for years for its treatment of prisoners and unruly inmates, including in Jay Z’s documentary on the tragic imprisonment and suicide of Kalief Browder. Lil Wayne also said he contemplated suicide while incarcerated there. Check out De Blasio’s statements below.


There is no timeline for the shutdown, although De Blasio said it will take “many years.” It will require the construction of new jails elsewhere, most likely in each borough. Many, many New York emcees have had to deal with Rikers Island throughout the years (whether themselves, their friends or their families), and this will probably be welcome news for all of them.