fat joe & Big Pun, 1999 opium gardens (miami, fl) PHOTO BY j lash
Big Pun was one of the few examples of a sidekick rapper who eventually outshone the man who put him on. Introduced as Fat Joe’s associate, Pun’s debut Capital Punishment, alongside albums from DMX, N.O.R.E, Cam’Ron, Busta Rhymes, Canibus, Jay-Z, Redman, The LOX and Ma$e served as one of the cornerstones of East Coast Hip Hop’s 1997-98 relevance in the midst of No Limit Records’ reign of dominance. One of the few lyrically inclined rappers who was able to blend comedy with harsh reality, Pun became the first Latino rapper to go platinum. Even though he was known to the general public as a member of Fat Joe’s Terror Squad, most of the clique was made up of Pun’s own Full A Clips Crew who came along with him when he chose to align himself with Fat Joe in the mid-90s.
Hoping to duplicate the success of his first album, Pun was set to release his sophomore effort Yeeeah Baby. On the lead single “It’s So Hard,” Pun, who had well-documented bouts with weight gain, exclaimed “I just lost a hundred pounds, I’m tryin to live, I ain’t goin’ nowhere. I’m stayin’, alive baby!” Unfortunately a fatal heart attack and respiratory failure claimed his life in 2000 before the song and album were released. Being that he was the proverbial glue that held the clique together, TS began to slowly crumble in the years following his death. Claiming to be a mix of “G. Rap, ‘Pac, Master P/All balled up with a twist of Marc Anthony,” Pun was a rare breed of emcee who was able to introduce listeners to a new culture and remind others of theirs all at the same time. He opened doors for other rappers like Pitbull to take Latino rap worldwide.
OZONE MAG // 81