February 7th – Big Pun dies of a heart attack while staying with his family at The Crown Plaza Hotel in White Plains, New York, on this day in 2000. Pun who was born Christopher Rios was 28 at the time of his death.
Pun who grew up in South Bronx, New York formed a group as teen called Full-A-Clips Crew with future rap superstars Triple Seis and Cuban Link. At the time, Pun was known as Big Moon Dawg with Cuban Link using the stage name Lyrical Assassin.
In the 1990’s Pun met fellow South Bronx rapper Fat Joe and appeared on his 1995 sophomore album “Jealous One’s Envy” on Relativity Records.
Big Pun would then join Fat Joe’s Terror Squad musical posse.
In 1997, Pun released the single “I’m Not A Player” on Loud Records which was eventually remixed by producer Knowbody and featured R’n’B crooner Joe. The smash hit single remix was renamed “Still Not A Player” and stormed the charts.
Big Pun had now shortened his stage name from Big Punisher after the Marvel Comics hero and became a household name in the hip-hop world. This set the stage for the release of his Grammy nominated debut album “Capital Punishment” released in 1998 on Loud. The album also produced the hit single “You Came Up” (featuring Noreaga) and went platinum, making Big Pun the first solo Latino rapper to do so.
In 1999, Big Pun appeared on the release “Terror Squad – The Album” on Big Beat Records along with Squad founder Fat Joe, Tony Sunshine, Armageddon, Prospect, as well as his Full-A-Clips cohorts Cuban Link and Triple Seis who were now a part of the crew as well.
His sophomore set “Yeeeah Baby” was released two months after in death on April 4th 2000 and featured the huge hit “It’s So Hard” (featuring Donell Jones).
The entire hip-hop world was saddened by the sudden death of the popular rapper who had battled weight problems since his teenage years and was at the time in the process of losing weight and getting into shape.
A 2001 posthumous album was released on Loud called “Endangered Species” and featured guest appearances by an array of rap superstars including Nas, Raekwon, Kool G Rap, Jadakiss, The Beatnuts as well as Fat Joe, R’n’B songstress Ashanti and Latin music superstar Ricky Martin.
Big Pun appeared in the films “Thicker Than Water” and “Urban Menace” as well as television’s UPN sit-com “Moesha.”
Several DVD documentaries on the late rapper’s life have been released including a couple released through Universal and EMI.
Although Big Pun’s career was cut short, his influence in hip-hop music was immense.