Big Pun

Real Name: Christopher Lee Rios
D.O.B.: November 9th, 1971 South Bronx, New York
Died: February 7, 2000 (aged 28)

Label: Loud Records

Christopher Lee Rios (November 9, 1971 - February 7, 2000), better known as Big Punisher or Big Pun, was an American rapper who emerged from the underground rap scene in The Bronx in the late 1990s. He first appeared on albums from The Beatnuts on the track "Off the Books" and on Fat Joe's second album Jealous One's Envy, on the track "Watch Out", prior to signing to Loud Records as a solo artist. Big Pun's career was cut short in 2000 at age 28 by a fatal heart attack due to his obesity. He is survived by a wife, Liza Rios, and three children. Big Pun was the first solo Latino rapper to sell over one million LPs. His first stage name was Big Moon Dawg. His name comes from the Marvel comic book anti-hero The Punisher.

Born in the South Bronx of Puerto Rican descent during the early years of hip-hop, Christopher Rios grew up enjoying basketball, boxing, and other sports. He met his wife Liza in the eighth grade. At the age of five, he broke his leg in a Manhattan municipal park, resulting in a lawsuit against the City of New York, later settled out of court. He received a lot of money in compensation. By all accounts from Pun's family, his early years were very difficult, including witnessing his mother's drug abuse, his father leaving the family, and a stepfather who was very hard on Pun. According to his grandmother, Pun would become angry and self-destructive, punching holes in the walls of his family's apartment and eating the chunks of drywall rocks . At the age of 17, Rios dropped out of Stevenson High School and for some time was homeless, staying in abandoned buildings or at friends' homes.

Recording Career

Sometime during the '80s, he formed the Full a Clips Crew with Triple Seis, Prospect and Cuban Link who was at the time named "Lyrical Assassin". At this point Big Pun was operating under the alias Big Moon Dawg. Rios met fellow Puerto Rican and Bronx rapper Fat Joe in 1995 and made his commercial début on Joe's second album, Jealous One's Envy, in addition to appearing on a b-side to Joe's "Envy" single, "Fire Water."

Later, "I'm Not a Player" (featuring an O'Jays sample) was supported by a significant advertising campaign and became an underground hit. The song's remix, "Still Not a Player" (featuring Joe), became Big Pun's first major mainstream hit. His full-length début Capital Punishment followed in 1998, and was the first album by a solo Latino rapper to go platinum, peaking at #5 on the Billboard 200. Capital Punishment was also nominated for a Grammy, but lost out on the award to Jay-Z's Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life. He became a member of The Terror Squad, a New York-based group of rappers founded by Fat Joe, with most of the roster supplied by the now-defunct Full a Clips Crew.

  • Capital Punishment
  • Capital Punishment is the Grammy Nominated début album by rapper Big Pun, recorded in 1998. It is widely regarded by fans and critics alike as his finest work, and it was his only album released while he was living - he died due to a heart attack before the release of Yeeeah Baby. Thanks to the hit single "Still Not a Player," a remix of Pun's previous single "I'm Not a Player" and featuring R&B singer Joe in an interpolation of his own song, "I Don't Wanna Be a Player," Capital Punishment debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 charts and became the first album by a solo Latino rap artist to reach the platinum sales mark. To date the album has sold 2 million copies. The album was nominated for the Best Rap Album Grammy, but lost the award to Jay-Z's Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life. Capital Punishment is an has topics encompassing battle raps on "Beware", "The Dream Shatterer", and "Super Lyrical", fantasies with women on "Still Not a Player" and "I'm Not a Player", relationships on "Punish Me", storytelling in "Fast Money" and mafioso lifestyles on "Glamour Life". The album also boasts the street classics "You Ain't a Killer" and "Twinz".

  • Yeeeah Baby
  • Yeeeah Baby is Big Pun's second solo album. In the wake of Big Pun's death in February 2000, it was posthumously released in April of the same year as planned, peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200 charts, and subsequently went gold. Fat Joe, Pun's close friend and mentor, is the executive producer of the album. In his last magazine interview, conducted by Industry Insider only a week before his death, Pun detailed that his approach on Yeeeah Baby wasn't as "hardcore" as his previous album, Capital Punishment, in an attempt to reach out to an even wider fanbase than his début album already had.

    The original title that Big Pun selected for Yeeeah Baby was Endangered Species, which was to later become the title of Pun's second posthumous album, released the following year.The album consist of two of Big Pun's biggest hits, the first single "It's So hard" and the Puerto Rican anthem "100%".

  • Endangered Species
  • Endangered Species is a compilation of unreleased tracks, guest appearances, and greatest hits by the late rapper Big Pun, released in 2001 following his death in February 2000. The proceeds from the album were to be given to Pun's widow, Liza Rios, and their three children, but despite reaching a peak chart position of #7, the album only went gold. Partly because the album mainly consist of music previously released, it was a decline in sales from his previous two which both sold more than 1 million copies. Liza Rios also claims to have only received a small royalty check from the sales of Endangered Species, and in response, auctioned off her husband's Terror Squad medallion in July 2005.

    The single from the album was "How We Roll", featuring R&B singer Ashanti on the chorus. Fellow rapper and close friend Fat Joe, who was also the compilation's executive producer, revealed in the liner notes of the album that the title chosen for the compilation was in fact the original title for 2000's Yeeeah Baby. In a move that is somewhat unusual for many hip hop releases, all of Pun's lyrics were included in the booklet of the disc, partly due to the limited amount of promotional tools available to the label, and partly because of a desire to emphasize Pun's technique as a lyricist

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