Big Pun - The Legacy: The Best Of Big Pun
Although in different ways, both works undeniably solidify the fact that Christopher Rios
Before Big Punisher, Hispanic Hip Hop artists struggled for a fair chance in an African American-dominated marketplace. However, it was Christopher Rios’ signature rapidfire flow along with his impeccable vocabulary that left jaws dropped across the industry. Pun's unparalleled talent left people scrambling for the rewind button, in order to process his seemingly never-ending rhymes. Though his life was tragically cut short almost a decade ago, Pun’s charismatic larger than life persona will forever live on through his music. The Legacy: The Best Of Big Pun encompasses the elite music recorded throughout his career as a solo artist, intertwined with spoken word by Big Pun himself as well as Snoop Dogg [click to read], Raekwon [click to read] and Ghostface Killah [click to read].
Chronicling Pun’s artistic development leading up to his debut album, The Legacy chronologically begins with Fat Joe [click to read] and Big Punisher’s 1995 HOT97 “Ice Cream” freestyle. Previously only available on Funkmaster Flex’s debut, the track’s vintage appeal boasts a more nasal-voiced Punisher with a reference to Pun’s pre-Terror Squad crew, Full A Clips. Rapidly building momentum, Big Punisher was more broadly introduced to the world on Joey Crack’s Jealous One’s Envy B-side “Firewater,” alongside Joe’s friends Raekwon and Armageddon. Followed up with The Beatnuts’ “Off The Books,” Pun aided his soon-to-be Loud Records label-mates in achieving their first Pop chart success.
A year later, amidst appearances on debut albums by Noreaga [click to read] and Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz, Big Punisher dropped his first album, Capital Punishment. Heavily sampling an eclectic mix of 1970s Soul, Jazz, and R&B music like The O'Jays' “Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby” with a splash of 1990s Hip Hop, Pun sent out the clear message that he was not trying to be anyone but himself. Subsequently, the censored “Still Not A Player” gave Big Punisher his first major mainstream hit. Having read the dictionary several times over, The Legacy’s leadoff single “Super Lyrical” and “Twinz (Deep Cover ’98)” (which features Big Punisher’s legendary “Little Italy” rhyme) demonstrate the lyrical prowess that aided Pun’s rise to stardom. The album’s critical acclaim led to double platinum sales and a Grammy nomination, and more significantly, Pun became the first solo Latino rapper to go platinum, surpassing his mentor, Fat Joe’s success.
Although Yeahhh Baby included his trademark sinister sound with tracks like “Off Wit His Head” and “Leather Face,” it also featured more lighthearted efforts like the optimistic “It’s So Hard” and the Puerto Rican nationalist anthem “100%.” Struggling with morbid obesity, Pun experienced breathing problems throughout the album’s recording process, slowing down his iconic flow. Catastrophically dying at 28 years old, just two months before the album’s release, Big Pun was unfortunately unable to ensure a whole-hearted release.
While in the Vlad Yudin [click to watch] documentary, Big Punisher’s story was told through the words of those whose lives he touched, the accompanying soundtrack allows Pun’s tale to be told from his own perspective. Although in different ways, both works undeniably solidify the fact that Christopher Rios’ legacy will never be forgotten. As one of Hip Hop’s most iconic fallen soldiers, Big Punisher will be remembered as a genuinely humble Puerto Rican lyricist who came, saw, conquered, and sadly could have conquered some more.