#TBT OC Talks Fat Joe at Crime Scene of Big L’s Death
Daniel Sozomenu sat with O.C - over coffee and eggs - and talked Big L and the rebirth of D.I.T.C.
Hailing from Harlem, Big L (born Lamont Coleman) covered an impressive amount of musical ground despite being tragically murdered in a drive-by shooting months before his 25th birthday. He began rapping at the age of 12, first cutting his teeth by freestyling against anyone willing in his neighborhood. After his first group, Three the Hard Way, shortly disbanded in 1990 due to a lack of enthusiasm and the temptations of the streets, Big L turned to his music as a way to Rise above the difficult circumstances his rough environment was fostering. That same summer, Big L met Lord Finesse at an autograph signing at a record shop and freestyled for him. That fateful meeting later grew into the young rapper's first notable appearance on a record. In 1995, he released his debut album Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous, while beginning to make a wave in the underground hip-hop scene. In 1998, he formed his own indie label, Flamboyant Entertainment, self-releasing one of his most renowned singles "Ebonics." Although his life was cut short a year later passing away at 24 from fatal gunshot wounds Big L's legacy was left in good hands. His manager Rich King released the rapper's second studio album, The Big Picture a project that was eventually certified gold as well as three other posthumous albums comprised of previously unreleased material. Over the years, countless tributes have been organized honoring the rapper's memory, with many agreeing that he was one of the most underrated and ferocious lyricists of the '90s.
O.C. is a rapper originally named Omar Cradle, who’s a member of various groups that include Crooklyn Dodgers, LUV NY, and Perestroika. He is most known as part of the Diggin' in the Crates Crew (D.I.T.C.) collective that also boasts Fat Joe, Buckwild, Showbiz and A.G., among others. Bushwick, Brooklyn was the breeding ground for O.C. In 1991, his appearance on Organized Konfusion’s “Fudge Pudge” was a result of being neighbors with Pharoahe Monch and him being recruited for the single. In 1994, O.C. released his first album Word...Life, a critically acclaimed album, which boasted no features and held his most famed single “Time’s Up.” After Wild Pitch Records didn’t give O.C. enough money to promote the album, he decided to part ways with the label. The rapper maintained a close collaborative relationship with Organized Konfusion, appearing on their records and compilations before signing with a label again to release his second album in 1997, Jewelz, featuring his single, “Far From Yours,” which would peak at #81 on the Billboard 100, making it his highest charting single. The follow-up to Jewelz would prove to be a trying time artistically for the rapper. Bon Appetit, released in 2001, didn’t resonate with critics and fans dubbing the album too polished and toned-down. O.C. would release Starchild in 2005 to a warmer reception. His work continues with collaborations with members from D.I.T.C., including an album with A.G. titled Oasis.
While MF DOOM (born Daniel Dumile) is highly regarded as one of the most inimitable figures in hip-hop, part of his legacy also lies within his collaborative work and in his eccentric half-dozen alter egos. Of those experimental projects, his partnership with Danger Mouse (born Brian Burton) is one of the most celebrated. Their debut project, The Mouse and the Mask, was released to critical acclaim in 2005, utilizing the collective moniker DANGER DOOM. The project was released in the UK through Lex Records, as well as in the United States through punk label Epitaph Records, marking the latter imprint's third foray into hip-hop. Best known for his work with the Gorillaz, Beck, the Black Keys, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Grammy Award-winning producer Danger Mouse handled the instrumentation, while DOOM focused on the animated vocals and eccentric lyrical direction. For DANGER DOOM‘s debut, Danger Mouse chose to sample exclusively from various animated shows airing on Adult Swim, Cartoon Network's late-night programming block—with a handful of cartoon characters from Aqua Teen Hunger Force making appearances on the album, in addition to the likes of Cee-Lo Green, Talib Kweli, and Ghostface Killah. With support from the network and famed comedian Dave Chappelle alike, the project was released in October 2005 and quickly became a cult fan favorite. While the album sparked several noteworthy talking points, MF DOOM's diss against his former collaborator, MF Grimm, undeniably stood out. The Monsta Island Czars (M.I.C.) member later responded with the track "Book of Daniel," during which he accused DOOM of selling out. With many hailing the seemingly unlikely pairing of MF DOOM and Danger Mouse as an undeniable success, DANGER DOOM delivered once again the following year, releasing their 2006 EP, Occult Hymn, exclusively though AdultSwim.com. Although DANGER DOOM has not reunited since 2006, their small-but-impactful body of work remains heralded as one of the most experimental and pleasantly absurdist collaborations to come out of the 2000s.