Gentrification hits Brooklyn House: Sugar Hill DJ Rob ‘Da Noize’ Temple faces eviction

by Leroy Moore Jr.

Rob “Da Noize” Temple holds a recording session in his Noize Studio in Brooklyn House, where he has lived and worked for over 30 years.

When I started Krip-Hop Nation 10 years ago, the first artist I met online and face to face was Rob “Da Noize” Temple of Brooklyn. I remember catching the subway from Harlem to Park Avenue in Brooklyn and walking up flights and flights of stairs to interview and record my poemsong, “Krip-Hop,” that started Krip-Hop Nation. This was 2006 or 2007.

Since that time, Noize Studio has become a second home for Krip-Hop Nation and the studio that professionally produced and mixed most of my spoken word mixtapes and Krip-Hop Nation’s songs on our six CDs. Now Temple, his studio and family are being evicted as the forces of gentrification are burning and privatizing Brooklyn at a fast pace.

Rob “Da Noize” Temple, a music producer, keyboardist, DJ for the Sugarhill Gang, member of the Temple Dynasty, as well as cofounder of Krip-Hop along with me, has been producing music for over 40 years. He was the first artist on Jive in 1982 with the Conway & Temple hit, “You Can Lay Your Head on My Shoulder.”

Since 1980, he has been producing music from Brooklyn House, and he just signed a contract for “Beverly Hill Cop III.” His last project was on the gentrification of The Village. Now Rob’s family is actually going through the same thing that he’s composed music about.

Rob told me that Brooklyn House started out as a collective of young cats who used to stand outside his window when the band he and his wife had would rehearse. His cousin brought over one of the young guys out of Bed-Stuy. They liked what Rob was doing with live music. But they were ahead of their time way back in the ‘80s, doing Hip Hop live. They began calling other young brothers and sisters from all over New York.

Sadly, Rob and his family are packing up, hoping to find another suitable place to relocate themselves and the legendary Noize Studio.

Back then, Brooklyn House founded the Human Alliance, initially just in New York. And now they’ve blossomed into California and down South in Florida. They even have chapters in Europe. But it started here in Brooklyn.

Now in 2017, the Temple family and their studio are facing eviction. Rob told me, “The landlord took the building over from HPD, Housing Preservation and Development, in about ‘96 and immediately pushed the rent up $400 – and every year subsequently another $100 to $200. It’s total harassment – obviously a dislike for Black people. Obviously.”

This treatment is nothing new; Rob and his family have been dealing with it for more than 30 years. The landlord doesn’t care that Rob has been all around the world with his music and pays rent from his gigs. In late February, the landlord handed them a 30-day notice to vacate the premises with no notice, no warning.

I’ve been at Rob’s home many times. I know the building also houses two other commercial businesses, an insurance and driving school and a barber shop. All three businesses, including Rob’s, are being decimated with one shot.

“We’ve watched the neighborhood go through gentrification,” Rob said, and now he’s the target. “The landlord harasses my wife just about every other day: ‘Get out. Get out. You know I want you out.

“Rent’s not due. He’s selling the building. And what’s happened is a certain group of people came into the neighborhood and started buying up everything, asking people to leave, sell their properties. We got blindsided by this particular landlord, who has about 26 buildings. He doesn’t really care about anything.”

I just saw a documentary on gentrification in Brooklyn entitled “My Brooklyn.” It still keeps on happening right now. I just got back from Poor Magazine’s East Coast Stolen Land Hoarded Resources Tour, going out to rich neighborhoods and just knocking on doors and telling rich people they have a disease of capitalism and they need to redistribute their wealth.

On the issue of gentrification, Rob says: “I think there’s no problem with you coming into the neighborhood. It’s when you push everyone else out. Now, we’ve been here almost 34 years, and you just get pushed out and humiliated on the block. We have no place to go. So we have four storage units, trying to find a place.

“Rent’s not due. He’s selling the building. And what’s happened is a certain group of people came into the neighborhood and started buying up everything, asking people to leave, sell their properties. We got blindsided by this particular landlord, who has about 26 buildings. He doesn’t really care about anything.”

“It’s as if a mandate comes down that says, ‘Do not rent to Black people. Do not sell your apartment or your house to Black people,’ and that’s a problem, you know? That’s a problem.

“And this is going on throughout the entire neighborhood in Brooklyn – no respect for the community, up-zoning, outside investors, outside developers who’ve never been to Brooklyn. They’re just able to come in and say, ‘Oh, this is a great place’ and take it over.

“They know nothing about the people who live here. The elderly who own beautiful brownstones, they’re forcing them to down-sell. You can’t afford to live here.

“People who have been here are just pushed out – where? They push them further and further away from Central Brooklyn. They want you all the way in Brownsville now, all the way out in East New York, or as far away as you can from Central Brooklyn.

“There was a hospital called Caledonia Hospital just right down the block from me across from Prospect Park, which was serving the needs of the people. Well, they closed that hospital down and built condos.

“You’ve been up into our studio. You looked out the window. You could see Prospect Park. It’s attractive, near every train and every bus. It’s an attractive neighborhood. But the way it’s done.

“They never came to us, to the three businesses that are here, and said: ‘Hey, look, I wanna sell the building. Why don’t you guys collectively get together, and I’ll sell the building to you?”

“Instead, they say: “I’m not giving you nothing! I want you out. If you’re not out by May the 5th, I’m gonna start …’ And we know we have some type of rights. However this is the new shape of Brooklyn.”

Rob is devoted to his grandson.

I remembered that we visited Picture the Homeless, an advocacy group around homeless people during our East Coast Stolen Land Hoarded Resources Tour and what they told us, that a lot of the public housing buildings in New York are being privatized, just like here in the Bay. Being a longtime resident of New York, Rob knew right away what was going on.

“Oh yeah!” he said. “All of these projects are solid buildings, probably the most desirable condo material that you can imagine. I knew they were privatizing some of the Marcy Projects. Certain groups that never really came across Flushing Avenue before are now taking all the factories that were abandoned, warehouses, they’re taking them over, turning them into condos. My old block in Bed-Stuy is all condos now. And you can’t get an apartment for under $750,000. Where you gonna get that kinda money?”

Rob’s home is up many, many flights of stairs and, in NYC and elsewhere, many apartment complex landlords refuse to fix things. I’m in a lawsuit with my landlord here in Berkeley because earlier this year the elevator went out for three weeks.

Rob and his family are packing to move, however, because Rob’s wife works in Brooklyn and is close to retirement, so they are looking for another place in Brooklyn. But when you’re disabled like Rob and me and living on a fixed income, it’s harder to get up and move.

Rob asks: “Where can you run? You can’t run to the courts because the same people who are controlling the game are sitting there. So everything is gonna be in favor of the land owner, of the landlord. And until we face things for what they are, that’s the way it will stay.

“They gonna look like they standing up for your rights, but things ain’t gonna change ‘cause it’s about money. That’s their god. So when money is your god, you’ll do anything to get that.”

As an advocate going through my situation with my landlord, I asked Rob are there no tenant lawyers or advocate lawyers? He replied, “We have that all in place. The landlord’s gotta serve us with the papers. His words alone are not solid. Then we can go through the process.

“And I’ve decided that if we find a place, we’ll just bounce. We don’t even wanna be around that type of energy.

“It’s gonna happen all across the country. People are gonna have enough. They’re gonna really have enough when they realize they ain’t got no place to go. Why in the hell is the city paying $3,000 a month for people to stay in a hotel when they’re homeless?”

So Rob and his family are packing right now and I hope they find a place soon. To get deeper into the history of gentrification in Brooklyn, I recommend watching the documentary, “My Brooklyn.”

Leroy F. Moore Jr., poet, researcher, journalist and activist and founder of Krip-Hop Nation, can be reached at