Saturday, August 22, 2009

Looking Back... Big L & The Big Picture

Nine years ago this month, slain Harlem rapper, Big L's first posthumous album was released titled, The Big Picture. Lamont "Big L" Coleman was equal parts freestyle king, storytelling genius and punch line specialist. And while he was the recipient of more press than Soundscan sales, his reputation far preceded any Billboard chart position.

Like most tragic hip-hop cases, Big L was yet another in the long line of artists who abruptly passed away on the verge of success. A week before he was reported to sign to then-conglomerate Roc-A-Fella Records, he was brutally gunned down just blocks from his Harlem home. Considered by most to be the most underrated lyricist, Big L was an unheralded New York legend in a long list of Harlem rhyme slingers, and his impact continues to affect rap music today.

In my opinion, Big L is arguably the best freestyle rapper ever. Below are two singles off of The Big Picture, titled "'98 Freestyle" and "Ebonics." Up above is his infamous "7-minute freestyle" with Jay-Z that was released on Jay-Z's 10-disk anthology mixtape, Library of a Legend. Both freestyles are absolute fire- my favorite punchline is in the '98 freestyle:
Turn your tux red, Im far from broke, got enough bread
And mad hoes, ask beavis I get nuthin butt-head

Ebonics - Big L

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