Dead in the middle of little Italy little did we know that we riddled some middleman who didn't do diddily.
Try saying that five times fast.
For Christopher Lee Rios, better known by his stage name Big Punisher (Big Pun for short), that was just an ordinary day of work. Big Pun was the first Latino rapper to make a platinum album. Known for his proficiency as a rapper, his rapid and steady flow, his heavy use of alliteration, and his complex internal and multi-syllabic rhyme schemes, the Bronx-born rapper died 12 years ago today at just 28 years old on Feb. 7, 2000. The cause of death was a heart attack brought on by his life-long struggle with obesity.
Fans took to Twitter to express their admiration for one of Hip Hop's most talented MCs on the anniversary of his death. Q-Tip, a member of the hugely successful Queens rap group A tribe Called Quest, simply wrote RIP Big PUN. Kenny Hamilton (Justin Bieber's bodyguard and a Twitter celebrity himself) tweeted, I remember the day he died like it was yesterday. Still one of my fav rappers ever! RIP Big Pun #TerrorSquad.
Big Pun was born in the Bronx, New York on November 10, 1971 into a Puerto-Rican American family. His childhood was difficult and he had to deal with his father's death and his mother's drug abuse at an early age, as well as a stepfather who tried to raise him in a military fashion. At five years old he broke his leg while playing in a city park, and was eventually awarded a settlement from New York 14 years later.
The lyricist first began to compose lyrics in the 1980s under the alias Big Moon Dawg. In 1995 he met the rapper Fat Joe, and made his Hip Hop debut on Fat Joe's second album, Jealous One's Envy, on the song Watch Out.
He also appeared on the track Off the Books with Queens Hip Hop duo, The Beatnuts.
Big Pun then signed to Loud Records, a New York based record company that worked with a number of early N.Y. rapper including Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, three 6 Mafia and Dead Prez. His first single, I'm Not a Player, featured a sample from the O'Jays song Darlin' Darlin' Baby (Sweet Tender Love). The song was an underground hit, thanks to an advertising campaign.
The single launched Big Pun's career, and helped propel his first album, Capital Punishment, to go platinum. The album peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200 charts and #1 on the Top R&B Albums chart for two weeks. It was also nominated for Best Rap Album at the 1999 Grammy Awards but lost to Jay-Z. The album, the only one to be released while Big Pun was still alive, including the singles 'Twinz, in which Pun's lyrical skills shine, and the catchy Still Not a Player, which features a vocal hook by popular singer Joseph Joe Lewis Thomas.
Big Pun struggled with his weight throughout his career. At one point he checked into a clinic in North Carolina and lost 80 pounds, but checked out before completion and quickly put the weight back on in New York. On Feb. 7, 2000 he suffered a heart attack while staying with his family in White Plains, NY. At the time of his death he was at the heaviest weight of his life, 780 pounds.
His second album, Yeeah Baby, was released shortly after his death. The album included Latino nationalist track 100% and It's So Hard, featuring Donell Jone.
Following his death, Fat Joe compiled a third Big Pun album, titled Endangered Species, which reached #7 on the Billboard chart. The album's single, How We Roll, featured Ashanti in one of her first songs, singing the chorus and outro. The music video is a cartoon in the style of video games like Grand Theft Auto, which allowed Big Pun to make on final appearance.