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.

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