A few blocks from Howard University is the Roy Boys hip hop inspired fried chicken and oyster restaurant. The restaurant, set to open next week, has come under fire for its wall art.
The late night restaurant had put up murals depicting the late Notorious BIG as a rooster, and had the VIBE magazine cover which featured Death Row rappers, including the late Tupac Shakur, with chicken beaks.
The art has sparked the debate of whether this constitutes freedom of expression, or is culturally insensitive.
“Tone deaf is an understatement. There is a deep history of making our people, especially connected to chicken, look like animals because it’s dehumanizing and it’s degrading.” Rahman “Rock” Harper, chef and activist, said.
“Artists and comedians should be given that kind of leeway,” one neighbor said.
"I will always defend artists," added another man.
However, some said that the artist had gone too far.
Musician/rapper Larry “Priest Da Nomad” Ware said, “As an elder of the U street scene, being an emcee and being in the culture - it just offended me. You have to be sensitive to the culture and things around you.”
Harper, still enjoying his win from Hell’s Kitchen, just launched his own podcast called Shift Drink. As a celebrity chef, he has taken it upon himself to call out his fellow restaurateurs.
Scott Parker, the owner of Roy Boys, is white, and so is the artist responsible for the mural, Christopher Lynch. Lynch received intense backlash when he posted the mural on his Instagram page.
Harper added, “Marketing is everything no one comes to a restaurant they don't know about I get that, but what you won't do is play with a culture I love.”
In response to the backlash, the restaurant owners decided to take down the murals, adding that they did not mean to cause offense.