Sunday, February 17, 2008

I'm So Ahead of My Time, My Parents Haven't Met Yet- Big L

Full Clip- Gang Starr

9 years ago on February 15th, 1999 Big L was murdered on his Harlem streets. It was a Monday night, riding uptown on the bus listening to DJ Clue on Hot 97 and the news dropped- L was shot dead on 139th St. For hiphop heads, the death of a major artist wasn't such a rarity. Tupac and Biggie were killed, each garnering a tremendous amount of media attention, maybe too much to the point of numbness and indifference. But L's death hit me differently. Biggie and Pac were on such a celebrity level that there was a separation between fan and artist. I never was a huge Pac fan to begin with, and while I loved Biggie's work, I wasn't really affected. Recently I lament more over his death as I realize he was one of the greatest to do it.

But L was local, underground, and appeared to be a regular cat. Representing Harlem to the fullest with a style and flow that were different and refreshing. Dude was incredibly talented, guaranteed to give you several "OH SHITS!!" per verse. From Lord Finesse's "Yes You May"- "I'm so def I need a hearing aid with an equalizer" to Show & AG's "Represent"- "L is the rebel type, I'm rough as a metal pipe, fuck a Benz, cause I can pull skins on a pedal bike," he immediately became a known entity. And when "Devil's Son" dropped- it was over. I don't know of any song that was so fucked up in terms of content yet so hysterical at the same time. Not sure if anybody else could have pulled it off. Showbiz's production deserves props too.

His first album, Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous, didn't drop till March 1995, leaving plenty of time between singles. The one radio personality that was the most instrumental in supporting L up to the realease was Lamel on WHCR- 90.3 City College Radio, 6pm-8pm everyday of the week. No Endz No Skinz was played weekly if not daily, along with an edited version of Devil's Son and Put It On.

When you witness the emergence and rise of an artist and then see his departure, it hits you on a personal note. You rooted for the dude, supported him, copped the 12"s and saw the shows, and then when things seemed to be on an upswing (word that he was to sign with Def Jam- on a side note will Jay admit that he took "Fuck Love, all I got for hoes is hard dick and bubble gum"? We don't believe you, you need more people- Ether him Nas!!!), it was over. Like all things, once your gone, you're appreciated, and for certain artists attain a cult figure status. Better late than never. After a 2000 release, the posthumous The Big Picture ultimately went platinum in 2001.

Attached is one of the best Big L compilations, The Unseen Picture, featuring the afore mentioned tracks as well as unreleased joints and cameo appearances.

Big L- The Unseen Picture

And here's a bonus- 1993 freestyle on Stretch and Bob. While some lyrics will be familiar, he kicks some shit that will have you spitting up your drank, or drink. "I'm crazy quick to buck a gun, and get a sucker done, I'm so smooth I can fuck a nun."

Big L- 1993 Freestyle on Stretch and Bob


buckemdown said...

Another great post, How. Nostalgic and informative. Had no idea that Big Picture went plat. Wow. But yeah, I felt the same way, and still do feel to this day, that this was the one (not Pac, Biggie, or even Pun) that left us with the most to still offer. L was a pure lyrical genious, who to this day rivals anybody in the game, past or present - and this was all done in the earliest days of his career. I remember having a similar excitement upon hearing Big L for the first time on Devil's Son as I did hearing Nas on Halftime for the first time. And the freestyles he put down on 89.9 are legendary. Every year around this time I get to thinking what could've been with Big L, and more selfishly, what I've missed out on.

HowFresh said...

Good looks doggie.

Columbia had it on smash back then- Nas, Big L and Kurious all dropped around the same time- 1993-1994.