Thursday, November 19, 2009

Big L - Put It On

Introducing Adam "Grilled Cheese" Johnson, hip hop connoisseur and renowned funky knowledge dropper. Thanks for the post Johnson hopefully this will be the first of many!

50 Cent was shot 9 times, and he survived. He later went on to boast in a song, “Got shot 9 times real n****s don’t die.” Big L was shot 9 times, and he died right there on the spot. I guess he wasn’t as hard as 50 Cent.

But he was definitely more talented. In the mid-90s he was on his way up, breaking onto the scene as part of the D.I.T.C. Crew with artists like Fat Joe and Lord Finesse. His 1995 disc Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous was chalk-full of jams and featured collaborations with names like Kid Capri, Cam’ron, and Jay-Z. It had little commercial success but industry figures couldn’t deny his talent, and he transformed into one of the most sought-after MCs on the east coast. His forthcoming album, The Big Picture, saw him working with legends like Big Daddy Kane & Kool G Rap, and even featured a collabo with the late, great 2pac Shakur. He was slated to sign with Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records in early 1999. The sky was the limit—his upcoming record deal would have netted him millions, allowed him to work with the best producers around, and solidified his status as a household name. Then he got shot in the face. Game over.

Fortunately, before his death, he gave us this jam-and-a-half. Lord Finesse’s beat is simple drum-and-bass with a nice xylophone loop thrown in to boot, and it is the perfect canvas for a rapper like Big L to tell us how good he is at stuff. What exactly is he good at? Rhyming, shooting people, and making money, to name a few. But when you can string words together the way he does, it doesn’t matter what your subject matter is because it just sounds dope. People will undoubtedly frown on the lyrical content, but compare this video to other rap videos you have seen—no fancy cars, no jewelry, no shiny suits, no women degrading themselves—just a rapper showing off his skills in the neighborhood where he grew up. It’s quintessential golden-era hip hop—an MC who is making music for the art and not for the money, and a producer who lets his drums do the talking without any special effects. In today’s world of T-Pain & the Black Eyed Peas it’s just plain refreshing.

This jamandahalf (new word, call up Webster have him add it to his book) embodies lyricism like no other. Big L doesn’t have anything profound to say, he just wants to shoot the gift. “I’m known to gas a hottie and blast a shottie//got more cash than Gotti, you don’t know? Betta ask somebody.” Kind of reminds me why I liked hip hop in the first place. Enjoy.

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