On this day, Feb. 7, in hip-hop history…

2000: Seventeen years after his death, Big Pun remains one of the most beloved figures in the 1990s New York hip-hop scene.

Superstar rapper Big Pun died from a fatal heart attack on Feb. 7, 2000. He was one of his generation’s most gifted lyricists. Born Christopher Rios, Big Pun broke through in 1998 with the release of his celebrated debut album, Capital Punishment. It would be his 1997 single “I’m Not a Player” produced by Minnesota that would help Pun attract the attention of Loud Records.

Upon its release in 1998, Capital Punishment peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the RIAA. The album even earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album in 1999.Pun was the first solo Latino rapper to sell a million records.

Big Pun was supposed to appear with Terror Squad cohort Fat Joe on Saturday Night Live two days earlier, but at 698 pounds, it was increasingly difficult for him to get around. His second album, Yeeeah Baby was released a couple months after his death.

As one of his generation’s most gifted lyricists who was best known for songs such as “Still Not A Player,” “It’s So Hard” and “Twinz (Deep Cover ’98),” Pun successfully combined hardcore New York lyricism and pop sensibility arguably better than any rapper since The Notorious B.I.G. His career was cut short when he tragically passed away, but his legacy lives on in the rap world today.

R.I.P. Big Pun.

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