2 minute read

Big Punisher: 1971-2000: Rapper

Fame Continued After Death

If Big Pun was considered a hero of the Latin community during his short lifetime, his fans tried to elevate him to legendary status after his death. The professional mural company TATS Cru, made up of graffiti artists, painted a 35-foot-mural in the Bronx memorializing the rapper days after his death. A campaign was launched to rename a stretch of 163rd Street in the South Bronx, Big Pun Avenue. "He was a ghetto rapper; he didn't forget his people," one South Bronx grandmother told the Washington Post. "Other rappers tend to forget where they're from, but not Big Pun. With all the money that he had and everything, he still lived around here, his home was here. He's legend. This guy is going to be a legend for us."

The rapper's death was mourned by hip-hop fans and artists alike. Fans called in to radio stations and wept openly on air. "I lost a brother," Fat Joe told the Los Angeles Times. He added that hip hop "lost a great personality, a great guy who really cared about everybody. One of the best, man. Another one of us gone. Thank God it ain't no violence. But he's gone."

Big Pun's last album, Yeeeah Baby, was released a few weeks after his death, and debuted at number three on the charts. The rapper "is at his habanero hottest" on the album, wrote Matt Diehl on the Rolling Stone website, "when representing his Latino pride" on songs like "100 Percent." Hip hop and pop stars Lil' Kim, Puff Daddy, and Jennifer Lopez appeared together as a tribute to the rapper in the video for the album's first single, "It's So Hard."

Unlike Tupac Shakur, another deceased rapper, Big Pun left few recordings unreleased before his death. Nonetheless, his record label, Loud, was able to put together a handful of Big Pun performances to release on Endangered Species in 2001. The album included songs from Capital Punishment, guest appearances, and previously unreleased material. "How We Roll," the album's first single, is built around Janet Jackson's hit ballad "Let's Wait Awhile." The Beatnuts' "Off the Books" is included, featuring Big Pun's classic cameo. Songs by Kool G. Rap, Brandy, Fat Joe, and Ricky Martin appeared on Endangered Species, as well, all of them featuring the late rapper's voice. "What's most striking about Endangered Species is that it shows Pun's rejection of musical limits," critic Rashuan Hall wrote in Billboard.

Selected discography

(with Fat Joe) "Fire Water," 1996.

(with Fat Joe) "Watch Out," 1996.

(with the Beatnuts) "Off the Books," 1997.

(Contributor) Soul in the Hole, 1997.

Capital Punishment, Relativity, 1998.

Yeeeah Baby, Loud, 2000.

Endangered Species, Relativity, 2001.



Billboard, April 7, 2002, p. 18.

Independent (London, England), February 10, 2000, p. 6.

Los Angeles Times, February 9, 2000, p. A16.

New York Times, February 8, 2000, p. B9; February 9, 2000, p. B10; May 2, 2001, p. B3.

Orange County Register (Santa Ana, California), June 5, 1998, p. F56.

Rolling Stone, May 28, 1998, p. 192.

Village Voice, June 9, 1998, p. 69.

Washington Post, February 9, 2000, p. B6; February 11, 2000, p. C1.


"Big Punisher," All Music Guide, www.allmusic.com (April 7, 2003).

"Big Punisher," Loud Records, www.loud.com/bigpun/right_bio.html (April 7, 2003).

"Big Punisher," Rolling Stone, www.rollingstone.com /bigpun (April 7, 2003).

"Big Punisher," Sing 365, www.sing365.com (April 7, 2003).

—Brenna Sanchez

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Shennen Bersani (1961-) Biography - Personal to Mark Burgess Biography - PersonalBig Punisher: 1971-2000: Rapper Biography - Discovered By Fat Joe, Weight Gain Lead To Early Death, Fame Continued After Death