The street lord is a powerful urban criminal who has under his control entire sections or districts of a city. He can be any kind of thug: drug dealer, racketeer, pimp, loan shark, smuggler etc. This individual is a street lord literally as he is the one who rules inner-city areas, thus he is not your average gangster that you will meet in a tavern. The street lord is often an underworld boss who most certainly is, at least, the one who owns that local as a method of money laundering from his drug deals.
Nino Brown is a street lord of New York in the drug epidemic era.