Big L, Book of Rhymes, Vol. 2

Originally published in the March 2003 issue of XXL

Eleven years ago today hip-hop lost a legend when Lamont “Big L” Coleman fell victim to an assassin’s bullet outside his Harlem home on February 15, 1999. Most know L’s name, but not everyone knows his legacy.

As the youngest DITC member and the only Harlemite, Big L had partnered with Killa Cam, Murda Ma$e and Bloodshed in the storied early-’90s rap troupe, The Children of the Corn, and earned a solo deal with Columbia Records when he was just 17. Though he was dropped after his debut album, 1995’s Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous, sold disappointingly, he continued his solo career through his own independent label, Flamboyant, and never lost his confident sense of humor. “How come you can listen to my first album/And tell where a lot of niggas got they whole style from?” he bragged in a radio freestyle that would appear on his gold, posthumously released second album, The Big Picture. At the time of his death, he was reportedly planning to sign with Roc-A-Fella Records.

Since his death, the contributions L made to the art of MCing have begun to be fully recognized. On the anniversary of his passing, XXL asked some of the people he made music with to choose a favorite verse and analyze, line for line, the skills of a lyricist who looms even larger now than he did when he were alive. —Adam Matthews

Former Rawkus Records A&R Mike Heron, who produced most of Big L’s album, The Big Picture, chose this verse from “98 Freestyle” (Recorded live during an appearance on the legendary Stretch and Bobbito radio show) as his favorite

“Yo, fuck all the glamours and glitz, I plan to get rich/I’m from New York and never was a fan of the Knicks/And I’m all about expandin’ my chips/You mad ’cause I was in the van with your bitch/With both hands on her tits/Corleone hold the throne, that you know in your heart/I got style, plus the way that I be flowin’ is sharp/A while back I used to hustle, sellin’ blow in the park/Countin’ G stacks and rockin’ ice that glow in the dark/Forever hottie-huntin’, trigger temper I’m quick to body somethin’/You lookin’ at me like I’m probably frontin’/I fuck around and throw, three in your chest and flee to my rest/I’m older and smarter this is me at my best/I stopped hangin’ around y’all, ’cause niggas like you/Be prayin’ on my downfall, hopin’ I flop/Hopin’ I stop, you probably even hope I get locked/Or be on the street corner with a pipe, smokin’ the rock/I got more riches than you, fuck more bitches than you/Only thing I haven’t got is more stitches than you/Fuckin’ punk, you ain’t a leader/Nobody ever followed you/You was never shit, your mother shoulda swallowed you/You on some tagalong flunkie yes-man shit/Do me a favor, please get off the next man dick/And if you think I can’t fuck with whoever, put your money up/Put your jewels up—no fuck it, put your honey up/Put your raggedy house up nigga, or shut your mouth up/Before I buck lead, and make a lot of blood shed/Turn your tux red, I’m far from broke, got enough bread/And mad hoes, ask Beavis I get nothing but head/My game is vicious and cool/Fuckin’ chicks is a rule/If my girl think I’m loyal then that bitch is a fool/How come you can listen to my first album/And tell where a lot of niggas got they whole style from?”

XXLMag.com: “Yo, fuck all the glamours and glitz…”

Mike Heron: And Jay-Z was sitting right next to him. He brought him up there. I think Jay-Z rhymes right after him. But this is who I am talking about, a nigga who ran with the kings. He was signed to Columbia when Nas was signed. He was royalty.

  • http://www.justice.gov.za Chiliz

    His 16′s r soooo timeless is even disrespectable just 2 pick 1.

  • Chris S

    “i’m so ahead of my time, my parents haven’t met yet”

    that line is better than most rapper’s careers

  • dockevoc

    And if you think I can’t fuck with whoever, put your money up/Put your jewels up—no fuck it, put your honey up/Put your raggedy house up nigga, or shut your mouth up/Before I buck lead, and make a lot of blood shed/Turn your tux red, I’m far from broke, got enough bread/And mad hoes, ask Beavis I get nothing but head

    ^
    RIP 2 THE G.O.A.T

  • these posts are racist

    Cats like Big L clearly rebutt the excuse “young” rappers use for why their music is so…dumbed down.

  • AZ40

    He’s where most cats got they whole style from, he definitely a Harlem cat, they all just clones of him

  • ILLWILL

    The best from NewYork ever!

  • SOUTHSIDE A-TOWN

    DAMN!!! WOW!!! it aint even nothing else to say…

    i liked #4 the best.thats real shit.

  • Jhon da Analyst

    @Chris S…….. I totally agree with you. The first time I heard that line I was like “WTF??!!” did this cat just say that slick shit?!! Wow……

  • Worley

    Big L Rest in Peace (Preemo voice).

  • jinx

    lyrical assasin

  • og bobby j

    the “ask beavis, i get nothing but head” is one of the dopest lines ever…

    Big L was a beast…in fact, even Cam could spit back in those days….

    “My name was murder, p diddy named me pretty”….mass was hard back in the COTC days….

    Shame man…

  • oskamadison

    Yo, Freddie Foxxx ain’t lie. Big L was basically Lord Finesse 2.0. If Finesse would have evolved a little, Big L is what he would have sounded like. Yo, we lost a lot of the great ones. You can hear Big L in damn near every Harlem MC since his death. RIP, L.

  • KiLLuMiNaTii

    WE WENT FROM 2PAC, BIGGIE, BIG PUN, & BIG L TO LIL WAYNE, DRAKE, GUCCI MANE, & OJ DA JUICEMAN. WTF HAPPEND??!. I WISH I COULD REWIND TIME 15 YEARS AND STAY THERE FOREVER. HIP-HOP DOSENT MEAN NOTHING NOMORE, IT TURNED INTO A JOKE WITH AUTOTUNE. CLUB MUSIC WITH BASIC LYRICS,…ALL ABOUT MONEY, DRUGS, CARS, CLOTHES, AND THAT NOW ANNOYING FUCKIN WORD THAT THE RURAL WHITE KIDS NOW USE “SWAGGER”. IT’LL BE A COLD DAY IN HELL WHEN WE GET ANOTHER MC THAT WILL TOUCH PEOPLE LIKLE PAC, OR LISTEN TO A MASTERED FLOW RIDER LIKE BIGGIE, A FAST SPITTER LIKE PUN, OR A SLICK MOUTHED JAW DROPPING LYRICIST LIKE L…SHOUT OUT TO MY NIGGA TWEET STONE, HE WAS BEST FRIENDS WITH L, THE STORIES THAT NIGGA TOLD ME OF HIM N L WHILE PASSIN THE BLUNT…BIG L WAS A REAL NIGGA, BELIEVE IT. SUCH A LOSS FOR REAL HIP-HOP.

    R.I.P. Lamont “Big L” Coleman – May 30, 1974 – February 15, 1999

  • http://www.bboycult.com $yk!

    Word tpar.

    But the Gen Now ain’t even coming here, they don’t know who he is. Their excuses are also their downfall.

    Grands has a good blog up @ daily-math in this same vein…

  • hate

    rip big l

  • Power I Bismillah

    Sun was nasty with his. Him and O.C. was about to do major work together. Them two was a ill team. Damn shame-R.I.P to Big L

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  • epinz

    ” i got styles u cant copy bitch/ its the triple six/ in the mix/strait from h-e-double hocky stick”

    ” broke in the crib with a crow bar/ i wasnt poor, i was po/ i couldnt afford the o.r”

    ” i met this honey seles/ she had big breasts/ momi had me harder than a spanish test”

    please listen to “i cant understand it” to hear his view on the game then and how it applys so much now

    r.i.p big l…one of the best yet!!!!! word to dj premier!!!!!!

    • wiLLie BooM

      “My tech nine is my ustensil/fillin niggaz with so much led so they can use their dick for a pencil“

      R.I.P L

  • Tone

    WHY DO PEOPLE ALWAYS GET THE 730 THING WRONG? Love you AG but 730 has nothing to do with a clock. When you’re locked up in NYC, they give u an exam to see if you’re mentally able to stand trial. That exam is called a 730 exam. If you fail then you’re unable to stand trial because you’re mentally unable (crazy) and in court they say “he’s a 730″. How do street dudes not know that?

  • that nigga

    Ebonics is the illest song ever. Beat is crazy, metaphore’s even crazier.

  • Dominikingz

    If Big L and Pun didnt pass so soon, NYC would be running this rap shit. South dudes got lucky that all of our greatest rappers died almost at the same time. RIP Big L.

  • Kozzy

    One of the best rappers ever, I remember getting his first album and then after that all his singles (12″ on record).

    My fav is probably The Heist and/or any song on his first album.