Lamont Coleman a/k/a Big L, was born May 30th 1974 and was the youngest of 3 growing up in Harlem. He was dubbed Little L and Mont’ Mont’ as a child. At the young age of 12 he began freestyling in his neighborhood. He formed the group Three the Hard Way in 1990, which soon lost a member and became Two Hard Motherfuckers. In the early 90’s Big L met Lord Finesse.
Children of the Corn
L mastered the freestyle battle and would battle almost anywhere from the hallways to street corners to parties. He founded the group “Children of the Corn” (COC) with Killa Cam, Murda Mase, and Bloodshed. Lord Finesse was promoting his album “Return of the Funky Man” and appeared on Yo! MTV Raps. Finesse brought Big L along with him. L’s first song appearance came on “Yes You May (Remix)”, the B-Side of “Party Over Here” by Lord Finesse in 1992.
Yes You May (Remix)
His first album appearance was on Showbiz & A.G.’s 1992 album Runaway Slave on the track “Represent”.
“Represent” ft Big L & Lord Finesse
Soon after he won an amateur freestyle battle with 2,000 contestants held by Nubian Productions. He inked a deal with Columbia Records in 1993 and dropped a promo-only vinyl’s ‘Devil’s Son” which was quickly banned from radio play due to the violent lyrics. This same year L joined the Diggin’ in the Crates Crew. D.I.T.C. consisted of Lord Finesse, Diamond D, O.C., Fat Joe, Showbiz & A.G. and Buckwild.
Lifestylz Ov Da Poor & Dangerous
He dropped his debut album “Lifestylz Ov Da Poor & Dangerous” on March 28th 1995. The album featured production by Buckwild, Lord Finesse & Showbiz and wasn’t considered a commercial success, but in the streets it was legendary. The album also featured guest appearances from artists Herb McGruff, Killa Cam, Lord Finesse, Jay-Z & Kid Capri. It featured 3 singles “Put It On”, “M.V.P.” and “No Endz, No Skinz”.
“Put It On”
Lord Finesse was interviewed in 2010 and discussed making the album. He stated Columbia Records wanted something with a catchy hook that would get radio play for “Put It On”. Big L accomplished that while putting his street gangsta spin on it. He said “M.V.P.” came about because L wanted a commercial jam w/ R&B loop and they used DeBarge inspiration along with help from Kid Capri.
Columbia disputes resulted in Big L being dropped in 1996 due to his rapping style which he said was “judged by a bunch of strangers who didn’t really know his music.”
The Big Picture
In 1997 L started work on his sophomore album “The Big Picture”, but that same year Children of the Corn lost a key member when Bloodshed passed away in a car accident March 2nd. L appeared on the “Dangerous” single on O.C.’s second album “Jewelz” and at the end of the year he opened for O.C.’s European Jewelz Tour.
The following year he began his own independent label called Flamboyant Entertainment and dropped the clever single “Ebonics”. The single had L explaining street slang to the world, which nowadays everyone uses the Urban Dictionary to do so.
Big L was before his time and the creative single created a lot of attention especially from the CEO of Roc-A-Fella Records Damon Dash. According to McGruff, L convinced Dame to sign The Wolfpack on Feb 8th 1999, which consisted of Big L along side Herb McGruff, C-Town and Jay-Z. Just when things really started to fall into place Big L was gunned down in Harlem’s “Danger Zone.” He was shot in the face and chest on February 15th, 1999.
The story seems to be shaky, but it sounds like L was killed for something his brother did. A childhood friend of L’s was arrested for the crime, but later was controversially released. The case still remains open today as unsolved. After he passed L continued to have his work released with the DITC album and his second album “The Big Picture” both being released in 2000. Big L had many posthumous tracks that continue to be talked about in the underground hip-hop community.
“Get Yours”, “Way of Life”, and “Ebonics (Remix),” were all on the DITC album. “The Big Picture” had production from DJ Premier, Ron Browz, Ron G, Lord Finesse, Pete Rock, Shomari, Mike Heron, Ysae & Showbiz. The featured guest appreances came from A.G. Miss Jones, Stan Spit, Fat Joe, Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, Sadat X, O.C., Remy Ma, Guru & 2Pac. The album features the hit singles “Ebonics”, “Size ‘Em Up” and “Flamboyant”.
As another anniversary of L’s death passes we wait for the movie “Street Struck: The Big L Story” to be released. The film is directed by childhood friend and independent film director Jewlz and has many of us on the edge of our seats waiting for its release.
R.I.P. Big L (February 15th, 1999)