Today in Hip Hop History: February 15, 1999
17 years ago, one of the greatest punch-line rappers in hip hop history was unfortunately taken from us in a drive-by shooting. Lamont “Big L” Coleman was a Harlem-based recording artist also known as “Corleone” and “Mr. MVP (Most Valuable Poet),” rightly so due to his unbelievable rhyming skills and hard-hitting flows.
Big L began his rapping career dropping freestyles, destroying cyphers and participating in battle raps. He began actually writing rhymes and recording around 1990. The next year, Big L made his TV debut on Yo! MTV Raps alongside friend Lord Finesse, who was promoting his album. Big L then began making appearances on Finesse’s demos and fellow New York hip hop duo Showbiz & A.G.‘s Runaway Slave.
After winning an amatuer freestyle battle of over 2,000 contestants, Columbia Records inked Big L. In March of 2005, he released his debut album, Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous, which debuted at #149 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and #22 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart.
After an unfortunate falling-out with Columbia, Big L began his own label Flamboyant Records and started recording his second studio album, The Big Picture. Before it was finished, Big L was gunned down by an unknown assailant, supposedly due to his older brother’s beef with the gunman’s crew. The murderer was never found nor indicted.
The hip hop world lost a rhyming legend this day 17 years ago. Big L, although not nearly as celebrated as Pac and Biggie, had the skills to become one of the greatest emcees of all time had he been given more time. Rest in Peace Lamont “Big L” Coleman (1974-1999).