Big Pun, Book of Rhymes, Vol. 1

Originally published in the March 2003 issue of XXL

Ten years ago hip-hop lost a legend when Christopher “Big Pun” Rios died from a heart attack and respiratory failure in a White Plains, New York hotel room on February 7, 2000. When DITC member Fat Joe began working on his own collective, the Terror Squad, the centerpiece of the crew was Pun, whose 500-pound physique never obscured his lyrical dexterity. The first solo Latino MC to go platinum, Pun put a stop to all that Rico Suave talk with dizzying tongue-twisters like the classic from “Twinz”: “Dead in the middle of Little Italy little did we know/That we riddled some middleman who didn’t do diddly.”

Since his death, the contributions Pun made to the art of MCing have begun to be fully recognized. On the anniversary of his respective 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

Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck chose this verse from a Pun song he guested on, “Tres Leches (Triboro Trilogy)

“Yo, Big Punisher’s ready/Prodigy, Deck and me, QB, Shaolin and Bronx trilogy/Lyrically hazardous for your wealth, swing on your world’s piece/Foil your plans, boil your grams, take a shine/Fold all your hands, spoil your mans, make him mine/Take all you made, call you gay on Hot 97/Drop by your dwelling got the nueve right behind your melon/Ain’t no tellin’ when the bullet’s behind the trigger/I do it to live niggas and Pulitzer Prize winners/You wouldn’t survive nigga, if I chose you/Froze you from ear to ear, showin’ your whole vocal/Who told you, you could roll through, my lyrics practically rose you/From the grave, like The Crow’s do/I told you a long time ago, don’t ever fuck me/’Cause if I leave you half dead/Consider yourself very lucky/Very ugly from the face up/Leave you laced up, Joey Crillz, Pros, Cuban Link, Triple Seis, what?” You appeared on this song with Pun [along with Mobb Deep’s Prodigy]. Did you feel any pressure?

Inspectah Deck: I ain’t going to front. You got Big Pun in there rhyming. He’s a force. And P already had his name solidified in the game. Just being in that room, they brought the best out of me. You can’t say anything wild on a track with Pun. “Prodigy, Deck and me, QB, Shaolin and Bronx trilogy…”

Inspectah Deck: I got family all up and down Queens, I was born in the Bronx and I be in and out of Brooklyn. It’s the five boroughs that make New York whole. “I do it to live niggas and Pulitzer Prize winners…”

Inspectah Deck: I feel the same way he feel. I don’t care if you’re Langston Hughes or Maya Angelou, if you step in my realm, then we going to face off. It’s like, Maya Angelou could even get hit like Langston for even approaching me like that.

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  • ARGO’S

    well deserved.

  • jtm

    wow today is the day that has been 10 years since big pun passed away. rip to big pun it is funny that ever since he has pass away hip hop has gotten worse every year.i bet he would be very disappointed on joey crackhead for what he has been doing and would never co sign dj khaled.

    • Afi K. James

      Negro Please.

      Fat Joe & Khaled have always paid homage to pun.

      • Afi K. James

        And actually pun gave props to DJ Khaled many years ago.

        And khaled is the one who played songs ont the radio for capital punishment weeks before other radio stations picked it up.

        Love em or hate him, khaled did his part.

  • AZ40

    Pun was a beast, mad slept on, you right he would be disappointed in Joe Cartegena, I wish he had more material

  • Will E. Will


  • The $ykotic Don Mac

    C/S the Joe disappointment.

  • Peso


  • Peso

    Joey would have been dope if Pun lived even if Pun had to write the boy lyrics himself lol. I think if Pun would have been around then TS would of been cool. Remy would be the best she should be right now and everything would have clicked for them…they would have had a good ass run to

    Just think of him and Eminem on a track together…

  • these posts are racist


    Compare these lyrics to any rapper in the game right now, anyone. It is depressing to see the music of my culture be so watered down that it is almost unrecognizable when juxaposed next to…this, Hip Hop.

  • Big Pun

    Flawless victory you niggaz can’t do shit to me
    Physically lyrically hypothetically realistically

    Beware he was that nasty

  • bigpun

    Big Pun The Best of all time by far!!!

  • PANA

    Greatest MC of all time

    R.I.P Pun

  • P81

    “Pun was a beast, mad slept on, you right he would be disappointed in Joe Cartegena, I wish he had more material”…

    -dude wasnt slept on at all, he was given his due and hit platinum..thats not being slept on. If you lived through that time you’de know PUN was huge. no pun intended. I couldnt go to a house party without hearin capitol punishment bangin.

    -Materials in the archives.

    • these posts are racisat


      • Golden

        these posters are illiterate…step your grammar game up…please!

        btw Pun is second to none in terms of lyrical content…dig this – i’ll give you all an example of how he was “on his way”…at the time jay-z did ‘hard knock life’ people gave him sh*t for the annie sample which went on to catapult him to a new level of stardom…on Pun’s “yeah baby” album the song ‘laughing at you’ was in the same light regarding to it was very abstract but people caught on and loved that damn son…that second album would’ve been Pun’s “Vol. 2″ and he would’ve been unstoppable…also, who else you know killed EVERYBODY they EVER did a feature with…PUN that’s who!!!…RIP Pana/

        • these posts are racist

          What are you talking? What grammar issues are you referring to?

        • these posts are racist

          Correct your own grammar playboy”

          “the song ‘laughing at you’ was in the same light regarding to it was very abstract but people caught on and loved that damn son”

          What does “in the same light regarding to it…” mean? And it’s “song” not “son”.

          Finally, “who else you know killed everybody…” it should be, “who else do you know has killed anybody…” and the rest of the sentence is too messed up to be corrected. If you’re going to throw stones (no intifada)…step your game up first.

  • Chiliz

    It’s soooooooooooooo haaaaaaaaaaard 2 b’ like PUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!

  • yeahnigga

    Plus Pun has sold over 20 mill records today worldwide. When he was alive he was 2x platinum and was the biggest rapper of his time basically. And now he has sold 20 mill worldwide. So he went from 2 to 20 mill in just 10 years even less than 10 years. I mean damn read it on XXL, Vh1 fuckin everywhere. Ask anyone. Plus 99% of all latinos in the world regard him as the best ever. Every single rap head in the world knows hes at least top 10 best ever. And a bunch of non latins like myself regard him as the best ever. Plus his music and name and legacy will forever be remembered and worshipped by millions of fans from all over the world. The nigga aint only New york rapper. THe nigga is worldwide like biggie and those kinda rappers. Ive fuckin seen Pun fans in africa what u know about that?? Big Pun is by far the nicest and most lyrical mc of all time imo hes my fav i bump his shit non stop. He aint slept on at all though. I mean 2 to 20 mill worldwide in 10 years i mean damn the nigga has sold more than most rappers in history. The nigga is just slept on when people forget him in top 5 thats it!!

  • sealsaa

    LOL, my internet timed-out when I clicked on page 5 and Remy Ma’s face appeared.

  • og bobby j

    i would go as far as to say pun could be considered top 5 ever.

    But, this is coming from someone who would put capital punishment in his top 5 albums all time, with the likes of doggystyle, it was written (yea, not illmatic), marshall mathers LP and the black album.

    So, what do i know….

    • these posts are racist

      OG Bobby J,

      What up man? Co-sign ur comment.

      • the brown

        Yo?! EVER?! Never. I respect your catalog though.

        • og bobby j

          TPizzle…what that do…

          The brown – yea fam…top 5 ever….

          as i call it…


          But fam, this is all subjective…you dont have to agree….

          Like, to me, lost boyz Legal Drug Money, is a top 10 album. Its about how it impacted my life…

          to each his own….

        • Sincere

          @og bob Legal Drug Money still gets rotation to this day. One of my favs, Cheeks was a beast (R.I.P. Freaky Tah).

          Music Makes Me High

  • Gift

    Yall may jump down on a nigga for wut I’m bout to say, but if Pun were alive today, I think him and Jig would be the top 2 in the game. Pun would murder today’s top mcs wit no problem. Way fuckin underrated.

  • Alex

    Christopher Rios was in a class of his own, froma lyricism stand point. I remember hearing his widely considered debut on the beatnuts joint and thinking damn! even though pac and Big had passed we have a new torch bearer. His flow, his breath control, his wit, sarcasm, humour and yes, even his swagger were phenomenal. He is the greatest lyricist I ever heard. He is in the top 5 greatest:pac, Big, Pun, Nas and Jay. To date no one has come close, and I find it sad that there a decade has not been enuff to produce new torch bearers. Pun,…R.I.P.

  • these posts are racist

    One issue that needs to be pointed out. Lyrict – amazing. Father and husband, horrible. While recognizing his great mic skills, we also have to condemn our heros where needed. He was a wife abuser who failed his family…and that, takes away from his legacy.

  • these posts are racist


    Cats like Fat Joe and anyone shouting out Big Pun on a track need to be held accountable for the fact that Pun’s kids are broke. These kids need to be treated like Biggie’s kids. That’s “love” and respecting someone’s legacy.

    • Afi K. James

      But liza will continue to hurt the late pun’s legacy, joe did try to take care of pun’s kids, but liza shitted on pun badly on that DVD and that’s why the relationship with joe and liza stopped.

      I Know that pun abused his wife, but to continue to hurt him like that makes me sad.

  • Curtis75Black

    The 1st time I heard homie was on Jealous One’s Envy and just kept playing that verse over and over amazed at what he was saying. I had no idea that a year later it was him who was standing besides Fat Joe in LL’s I Shot Ya remix video but that didn’t matter. When Funkmaster Flex dropped his 1st 60 mins it was over with that Crazy Freestyle he blazed over the Ice Cream beat – I mean DAMN,This motherfucker just killed it !! As soon as Capital Punishment dropped it was picked up immediately. I see Pun in the same eyes as Pac and BIG considering the way I heard them, On someone elses (Digital Underground & Heavy D) track killing it and standing out at the same time. There was no way he wasn’t gonna blow with the shit he came up with. I can straight up say when he died, I cried because I knew there was never gonna be another emcee who was gonna take over that spot. It’s etched in stone.

    • John Cauner

      Co-sign. I still have the issue that this article appeared in, and the Funkmaster Flex Presents The Mix Tape Volume 1 CD. That’s gotta be the first, if not, one of the first appearances on record for Pun back in ’95.

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  • LENZ

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought Em & pun would be nice on a track. Pun was way better lyrically then B.I.G., Tupac was the real life rapper but no focus on lyricism on Pac’s part Pun had it all. He was an all around MC


    I wouldn’t vouch and dedicate my life in fruitless efforts of making money or erasing debt..