Christopher Rios, better known as Big Punisher, passed away on February 7, 2000. When Big Pun’s debut album first arrived on the scene in 1998, it was a time when some thought the lyrics had gone away from rap music a bit (little did they know just how MUCH that would be true years later).
Sure, Nas was still around and Jay-Z was beginning to make some noise, but 2Pac and Biggie had been gone for over a year and albums like Puffy’s No Way Out and Ma$e’s Harlem World had dropped, giving the sense that rap was going in a less lyrical and more shiny-suit and extremely sample-heavy direction.
Pun and several others were able to shift the focus back to lyricism. Along with the likes of DMX, Canibus, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and other new cats that came in at around the same time. Pun’s impact was felt by all, as he is widely considered to have been an elite lyricist regardless of where people might want to rank him. His impact was most felt by the Latino community, however, as we were able to see one of our own achieve platinum status in a genre we’ve loved so much.
On the 12th anniversary of Pun’s passing, we look back at some of his hottest joints by counting down my own top 5 Pun tracks and top 5 Pun guest appearances. Enjoy!
5. “What You Gonna Do”
4. “Super Lyrical” featuring Black Thought
3. “You Ain’t a Killa”
1. “Dream Shatterer”
5. Fat Joe featuring Big Pun and Big L – “Bring ’em Back”
4. Noreaga featuring Big Pun, Cam’ron, Nature, Jadakiss, Styles
3. The Beatnuts featuring Big Pun and Cuban Link – “Off the Books”
2. Onyx featuring Big Pun and Noreaga – “Shut em Down (Remix)”
1. Fat Joe featuring Big Pun and Terror Squad – “Terror Squadians”
What’s your favorite Big Pun joints? I’ll leave you all with this moving tribute to Pun courtesy of Cuban Link –