Many hardcore hip hop fans waited for the big break, which never came, from Big L. At the time of his death, the Harlem emcee had held several discussions with Jay-Z. It appeared as if Big L would soon sign a deal with the emerging Roc-A-Fella Records. For years, many considered Big L just as good, if not better, than Jay-Z, on a lyrical level.
The two most-known rappers from Harlem are Cam’ron and Mase. Long before their runs of Roc-A-Fella and Bad Boy, respectively, they rapped with Big L in his Children of the Corn group. It was the name they built with this group, which led to their eventual commercial success. Big L was primarily known as a street legend, but he had appearances on MTV and in The Source before the age of twenty.
By 1995, Big L signed with Columbia Records and his debut album, Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous was released to critical acclaim. Despite the critical response, the album only sold 200,000 copies and a dispute between Big L and Columbia Records, over his style, led to him leaving the label. At the time of his death, Big L was negotiating a deal with Damon Dash and Jay-Z to include his crew, The Wolfpack, signing to the Roc.
However, on this day, thirteen years ago, Big L was shot nine times, including shots to the face and in the chest. All of a sudden, the next rapper to take over the game was gone. Now, Big L’s peers in the game, along with his hardcore fans, often wonder what could have been. What happened in the past cannot be changed, so everyone takes a moment of their time on February 15 to remember the fallen star. Rest in peace Mr. Lamont “Big L” Coleman.