18 years ago today, One of the greatest MCs to ever touch a Mic passed away on 2/15/1999.
Lamont Coleman was born in Harlem New York on May 30, 1974,he was the third and youngest child He has two siblings, Donald and Leroy Phinazee,Coleman received the nicknames “Little L” and “‘mont ‘mont” as a child. At the age of 12, Coleman became a big hip hop fan and started freestyling against people in the neighborhood.He founded a group called Three the Hard Way in 1990, but was quickly broken up due to a lack of enthusiasm.It consisted of Coleman, a “Doc Reem”, and “Rodney”.No studio albums were released, and after Rodney left, the group was called Two Hard Motherfuckers. Around this time, people started to call him “Big L”.
“in the beginning, all I ever saw me doing was battling everybody on the street corners, rhyming in the hallways, beating on the wall, rhyming to my friends. Every now and then, a house party, grab the mic, a block party, grab the mic.” -Big L-
In 1991, he recorded various demos, some of which were featured on his debut album “Lifestylez ov da poor & dangerous” he also founded the Harlem rap group Children of the Corn (COC) with Killa aka Cam’ron, Murda Mase aka Ma$e and Bloodshed. On February 11, Coleman appeared on Yo! MTV Raps with Lord Finesse to help promote Finesse’s studio album “Return of the Funky Man”. Coleman’s first professional appearance came on “Yes You May (Remix)”, the B-Side of “Party Over Here” by Lord Finesse, and his first album appearance was on “Represent” off of Showbiz & A.G.’s “Runaway Slave”. In that same year, he won an amateur freestyle battle, which consisted of about 2,000 contestants and held by Nubian Productions. In 1993, Coleman signed to Columbia Records Around this time, L joined Lord Finesse’s Bronx-based hip hop collective Diggin’ In The Crates (DITC) which consisted of Lord Finesse, Diamond D, O.C., Fat Jow, Buckwild, Showbiz & A.G.
Lord Finesse ft.Big L – Yes You May Remix
Sometime in 1993, Coleman released his first promotional single, “Devil Son”, and He said he wrote the song because “I’ve always been a fan of horror flicks. Plus the things I see in Harlem are very scary. So I just put it all together in a rhyme.” On February 18, 1993, Coleman performed live at the Uptown Lord Finesse Birthday Bash.
Big L – Devil’s Son
His debut studio album,”Lifestyles ov da Poor & Dangerous” was released in March 1995. The album debuted at number 149 on the Billboard Top200 and number 22 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album chart. Lifestylez would go on to sell over 200,000 copies as of 2000.Three singles were released from the album; the first two, “Put It On” and “M.V.P.”, reached the top twenty-five of Billboard’s Hot Rap Tracks and the third “No Endz, No Skinz” did not chart.
Big L – Put It On (Video)
Big L – M.V.P. (Video)
In 1996, Coleman was dropped from Columbia mainly because of the dispute between Coleman’s rapping style and the production from Columbia.He stated “I was there with a bunch of strangers that didn’t really know my music.”
In 1997, he started working on his second studio album, “The Big Picture”.
Sometime in 1998, Coleman formed his own independent label, Flamboyant Entertainment.According to the The Village Voice, it was “planned to distribute the kind of hip-hop that sold without top 40 samples or r&b hooks.” He released the single “Ebonics” in 1998. The song was based on “Ebonics” and The Source called it one of the top5 independent singles of the year. DITC released their first single, “Dignified Soldiers”, that year.
Big L – Ebonics (Video)
On February 15, 1999, Big L was killed at 45 West 139th Street in his native Harlem after being shot 9 times in the face and chest in a drive-by. Gerard Woodley, one of Big L’s childhood friends, was arrested three months later for the crime.”It’s a good possibility it was retaliation for something Big L’s brother did, or believed he had done,” said a spokesperson for the NYPD. Woodley was later controversially released, and the murder case remains unsolved.
Big L is buried at George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus, New Jersey.
On June 24, 2016 at 139th St. and Lenox Avenue, Woodley, 46, was shot in the head and later died at Harlem Hospital…
Big L is considered one of the best lyrical MCs of all-time and is on most people’s Top5 Dead or Alive Lists!
Who knows what Lamont Coleman could have done in the music industry if he was still alvie, He was definetly a head of his time as an MC & as a Businessman in the Music Industry.
Lamont Coleman aka BigL will forever be a legend in the Hip Hop Culture!
“BigL, Rest In Peace”
Gang Starr – Full Clip (Video)