April 4, 2015

Big L - The Big Picture (2000)

This is Lamonte "Big L" Coleman's second album, a compilation of recorded tracks released posthumously. Big L was shot to death in '99, apparently an act of retribution against something his brother did. L started freestyling at 12, and it became an obsession, with L battling anyone who stepped to him. He quickly became one of the best freestyle rappers of all time, and by the time he released his debut in '95 at the age of 20 I would argue he was the best freestyle rapper the world has seen. On this album with '98 freestyle it's no longer an argument, he takes the freestyle crown. He worked on a lot of material after his debut and was going to release his second album and sign to Roc-A-Fella before his untimely death. This album is not quite as good as his debut, just not as well put together. But it does provide a snapshot of L's genius which continued past his debut. This album proves that if L had lived he wouldn't have fallen off on his sophomore and later projects like so many other rappers in the 90's. The production is great, with big names like Premo, Showbiz, Finesse, and Pete Rock. The only issue is that this album sounds like what it is- a compilation of unreleased tracks.

Ebonics of course is fuckin incredible- his ability to put together freestyles was well understood at this point, but this song proves he can focus on one topic for a whole song. Then The Heist kicks in and we find out that L is one of the best storytelling rappers, adding to his many talents. This album shows L was expanding his style while retaining his incredible ability to freestyle at breakneck pace with complex and flawless rhymes. This album isn't as consistent as the first, but it shows the incredible potential the world lost in '99. I have no doubt had L lived he would have become the most skilled rapper of all time, not just the most skilled freestyler.


The Big Picture