Big Pun, “Big Papi” (Originally Published March 2001)
It’s so hard to believe that it’s been a full year since Big Pun passed on. But he’s not forgotten. Through family, friends, artists and his music, he lives on. Reminisce over our amigo with our tribute to one of hip-hop’s most respected MCs.
Written By: XXL Staff
Photos By: XXL STaff
Big Pun was known for his sense of humor and larger-than-life persona. So we decided to have his peoples give us candid, funny stories about the good times they spent with the man who loved to laugh—sometimes at other’s expense.
Liza Rios // Pun’s widow
Pun liked to put stuff in your food. He’d put vinegar in your juice or salt in your soda. His other big thing was water fights. He had water guns stashed everywhere. No matter how you were dressed, he’d blast you with the water gun. One of the rules of our house was the first person to fall asleep got wet. So guys would stay around the house trying to stay up. He would throw a whole bucket of ice-cold water on you. You’d get heated, but that was Pun.
Fat Joe // Terror Squad
When Pun had his first white label,”You Ain’t a Killer,” we was hanging out in this club in the Bronx. He was excited that KRS-One was going to be there. We start performing the record and the crowd is going crazy. Pun is ripping it and the next thing I know, he just falls off the stage—a crazy, big tall stage. I think he landed on KRS’ wife Simone. I think she got it on video tape. When he fell, the whole crowd was like, “Oh shit!” You probably think he so big he got hurt, but the minute he hit the floor he just jumped right back up and kept rhyming like it was part of the show! Oh man, that was dumb funny. We teased him for years about that.
Cuban Link // Terror Squad
Back in the day before Pun even got the deal, we went with Liza, his wife, to see her father in Long Island. Two shorties were playing on this little basketball court they had in the street and we was like, “Yeah, yo shorty, let me get a shot.” He gave me a little shot and then Pun asked him, “Hey shorty, let me get a shot,” and shorty was like, “You fat, boy.”
Pun was like, “What’d you say, short?” Shorty was like nine-years-old. Pun just said, “Fuck it, shorty. I will stick my dick through your father’s heart.” And I seen shorty’s expression on his face, and me and Pun just started gigglin’, yo. That was the funniest. The kid started laughing, too, and he gave him the ball and we started playing. Shorty had to respect that snap right there. Pun was not the type of guy to let you snap on him and think you good at it. You can have your laughs on him, but he’s gonna have his laughs on you.
He always had me laughing, man. When we was doing “You Came Up” in the studio, Pun used to call me an over-sized Redman doll. He said, “Don’t Rock look like a Redman balloon?” I told him he looked like a big Hostess Twinkie.
Steve Rifkind // Loud Records
You know what our first conversation was? He wanted to be the first Spanish rapper to go gold. When the “Still Not a Player (Remix)” came out, I said, “You’re going platinum.” He said, “If I go platinum, I’m buying you a gift.” When he knew we were certified platinum, he came to the office and I said, joking around, “Yo, where’s my gift?” He said, “We’re certified.” And I said, “I know. Yo, where’s my gift that you said you were gonna get me?” Now, we were like a million point five, six. He goes, “Well, I had to wait for certification.” “It was certified two months ago!” “No it wasn’t. It was certified an hour ago.” Then, as he says “an hour ago,” he goes into his pocket for a box with a diamond bracelet with my name on it. He already had it and I put my foot in my mouth saying, “Yo, where’s my gift?” This was the type of man he was. When he said he was going to do something, he did it.
Psycho Les // The Beatnuts
Ju Ju told this funny story of how Pun wanted to do this video like Baywatch. There was some girl drowning, he was going to rescue her and then get eaten by a shark. Then the whole video was going to take place inside the shark’s stomach. He was even planning to run toward the girl in slow motion in the video.
Knowbody // producer // Terror Squad
Pun thought everything was funny. When somebody would ask him if he were hungry, he’d say, “Yeah, bring me a barbeque elephant.”
We had a session together for my Soul Survivor album in ‘98, and he start ordering mad food. He had a big $1.25 bag of onion and garlic chips and as he was doing the rhyme he was eating them. But you can’t hear him eating while he was rhyming. He’ll eat some, rhyme, stop, eat some, and then finish the verse. He did his verse without even taking a breath—he didn’t stop to go [gasps], he just was flowing. I was like, “Oh, so that’s how you get down, you gotta have food around you?”
I went to Pun’s crib one day and we was just chilling, talking about guns. He pulled out his gun and let me see it. So I was checking it out, and he had around twenty people in the crib, and after he pulled out his gun, everybody started showing me they guns. All twenty people just pull out they guns. They was like, “Yo P, where’s your gun? We want to see your gun.” I was like, “Damn, I don’t even got my gun on me, man.” I felt stuck, like they was going to fucking get me or something. But it was all love. It was just funny to me, ‘cause there had to be like a hundred guns in the house that day and I ain’t even have mines on me.
Sunkiss // MC // Terror Squad
Once he rented us a cabin for the weekend up in the Poconos, and bought a couple of the four-wheel bikes. Me, him and Cuban Link was driving through the woods at three in the morning, racing through the dirt trails, when me and Cuban realized that Pun wasn’t behind us. We turned around to go look for him, and all we see is the headlights pointing up to the trees. Shit was upside down. I’m like, “Oh shit! Pun flipped over.” I walked over and Pun was in a ditch in the trees, bleeding all at his mouth. His eyes was pointing up like he was dead. He was acting real stiff, so I panicked. “Pun! Pun!” I run up to the nigga, I thought he was dead, and the nigga just said, “Ahhh, got you!”
Tony Sunshine // singer // Terror Squad
We had a gun that looks like a real .45 and it sounds like a real .45, but it shoots blanks. So one day we were in the studio recording the Terror Squad album. We in there, we chilling, we listening to the joints that we already got done. Pun is working on a joint, and it’s packed, the whole studio is like 30 niggas: Joe, Cuban, Macho, interviewers, A&Rs from the label—it was a bunch of people there. And there was a fruit basket. So Pun comes and puts a grapefruit on top of his head and he tells me to shoot the grapefruit.
Now the crew knows the gun is fake, but everyone else is bugging. They going, “What the fuck is wrong with these niggas?” So I “shoot” the grapefruit with the blank gun, and Pun kind of tips his head to the side real hard and the grapefruit falls of his head—it looks like I shot the grapefruit. Then Pun puts an apple on his head and he tells the next nigga to shoot the apple! Boom! Pun shakes his head, the apple falls on the floor, and with the impact when it hits the floor it looks like it’s smashed a little bit, so they’re buggin’ even more now—like, “Okay, these guys need to stop joking around, it’s not funny anymore.” So Pun puts a tangerine on his head, and he tells somebody else to shoot it off, and so forth. Finally, Pun puts a cherry on top of his head. He tells Joe to shoot the cherry. Everybody is buggin’. Joe goes to shoot and Pun says, “No. Blindfolded.”
When Pun says shoot that cherry, everybody cleared out.
One time we was in the airport in Newark flying out to Atlanta Summer Jam. It was real early in the morning, so everybody was mad tired. It was a real crowded flight, and Pun decided that he was going to get on the plane before everybody else. You know how that is, on a booked-ass flight, it’s mad drama. They went and got Pun a wheelchair, and here come these niggas and they’re going all-out helping him into the wheelchair and he’s like, “Oooh, my leg!” All the people getting on the plane were making the tragic face, like, “Oh, that poor man.” All these people were feeling all bad for him and he’s turning around winking his eye. I was like, “Yo, how many airports do you do this at?”
Remi Martin // Terror Squad
He used to make me spend the night at the studio, like, “Yeah, it’ll be fun. You can sleep on the studio couches.” Yeah, it’s fun when you’re Pun and you have three mattresses in the studio. Your wife is in the studio. Your dog is in the mixing room, pissing on the equipment. Your grandmother is there. Your kids are in the game room. I’m sure the people at Sony hated when we were in there. He’d spend thousands of dollars ordering stuff on the studio. He’d be like, “Sure, come down. No problem. We’ll order you everything.”
I hated the studio. He wouldn’t let me leave. Like, “Look, just pull up a sofa, we’re gonna listen to some beats all night.” Then we wake up in the morning and leave the Sony studio and go to the Hit Factory and be there all night. I was like, “Pun, please, I just want to go home.” “Sure, sure. Let me finish this one more song.”
He’d just make you stay with him. His fun was not going to a club and getting drunk and chilling. He’d rather have everybody in his house spend the night for two weeks. That’s his fun: you stay for two weeks. Never mind your job. He’d say, “I’ll pay you. What’s your paycheck? I’ll give you that. Just chill, relax, take your shoes off.”
Drag-On // Ruff Ryders
One time, it was me and him in the studio and his wife. She was asleep with her hands by her mouth. I was talkin’ ‘bout my album and why it’s called The Opposite of H20 and he was like, “Oh, OK. You wanna see the opposite of H20? This my wife right here. Watch this.” So he picked up a book of matches and stuck one in between her fingers and lit it. Boom. Nigga lit the match, and let the shit just burn all the way ‘til it got to her hands and then she woke up.
Soon as she felt the heat, she jumped up. “Yo, man! Damn. What you doing?” But it ain’t burn her. She was alright. I mean, she was mad. The fire didn’t get to her skin, but she felt the heat. But she was laughing too—at the end. He was mad cool. Like, he was just too cool.
Miss Jones // singer // Hot 97 DJ
The most hilarious time was one night on tour. So, me and my dancers bought water guns to ambush the guys that night. Pun or Joey’s room was right next to mine. So me and my dancers went in like, “Hi guys, what ya’ll doing?” Pun was sitting on the bed playing PlayStation. He was like, “Oh, come in. Come play with me.” So, being a dumbass, I go in and start playing. All of a sudden, Joey and all of them kick out the bathroom door with buckets of water, buckets of ice. And I was like, “Pun, you bastard! You set me up!”
And he just looked at me like, “What? You thought just because I’m not running, I’m not down?”
Sound Boy // Pun’s Engineer
One time in North Carolina my man was rolling a blunt and Pun asked him to get something in another room. When he left, Pun put a whole bottle of black pepper in his weed. Dude comes back, lights it and after a couple of puffs, he was like, “This weed is weird, this is some backyard boogy.”