Christopher Lee Rios (November 10, 1971 – February 7, 2000), better known by his stage name Big Pun (short for Big Punisher), was a Puerto-Rican 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” in 1997, and on Fat Joe’s second album Jealous One’s Envy in 1995, on the track “Watch Out”, prior to signing to Loud Records as a solo artist. Pun’s lyrics are notable for technical efficiency, having minimal pauses to take a breath, heavy use of alliteration as well as internal and multi-syllabic rhyming schemes. Big Pun died of a heart attack at age 28. About.com ranked him #25 on its list of the 50 Greatest MCs of Our Time (1987 – 2007).
Sometime during the ’80s, he began to write rap lyrics, forming the Full-A-Clips crew with Triple Seis, 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 debut 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.
In 1997, producer Knobody’s production partner Sean C took advantage of his new role as A&R at Loud Records to play Knobody’s tracks to Big Pun. Suitably impressed the rapper hired Knobody to remix “I’m Not a Player”. The remixed song, featuring Joe and titled “Still Not a Player,” became Big Pun’s first major mainstream hit and major breakthrough for Knobody. The full-length debut Capital Punishment followed in 1998, and became 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. Pun’s second album ” Yeeeah Baby”, although not as successful as his first also went platinum producing two solid hits in “it’s So Hard” and “100%”.
Big Pun became a member of 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 who released their debut album The Album in 1999. The album didn’t fare well commercially but it was well received critically and the album was meant to start the foundation for all other terror squad members to release their solo projects.
Artist bio licensed under GFDL from Wikipedia.
Don’t sleep on the new fire from Ledisi. This woman can blow!
When I first got the Ledisi promos from the record pool, I initially thought that is was a female group due to the vocal variations from track to track. But I was wrong; it’s the diverse voice of a sexy, sultry black woman named Ledisi Anibade Young – American singer-songwriter and actress.
Ledisi Young (her given name meaning “to bring forth” in Nigerian) was born in the Big Easy, where she sang with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra when she was eight years old and spent many adolescent hours watching her mother perform with a local R&B band, often in a nearby park. After the family relocated to Oakland, California, Ledisi followed her mother’s lead and sang in a local band, but left to form her own identity and her own group. She became widely noted for her performances in Beach Blanket Babylon, a long-running San Francisco-based cabaret featuring song parodies, celebrity impersonations, and enormous hats; she got the gig after being nominated for a Shellie Award in 1990 for her role as Dorothy in a local version of The Wiz.
She later formed Anibade (Ledisi’s middle name), which depending on what you read, means “to bring forth luck” or “my mother is great” in Yorubu. The band featured Sundra Manning (keyboards and chief songwriter), Cedricke Dennis (guitar), Nelson Braxton (bass), Wayne Braxton (saxophone), and Tommy Bradford (drums); while the lineup was similar to Chaka Khan & Rufus, the sound — on record anyway — is mellower than Rufus’ energized, excellently engineered sounds, sometimes fusing R&B, hip-hop, urban, jazz, and funk in the same pot. Ledisi and her band built a hot reputation in the Bay area at local clubs such as Bruno’s, The Black Cat, and Rasselas. Fans kept asking about a record, so the band cut a demo, “Take Time,” that radio station KMEL aired and received a good response; this prompted Ledisi to seek a deal with major recording companies, all of which praised and turned her down in the same breath. Frustrated but not thwarted, Ledisi cut the critically acclaimed Soulsinger and released it on LeSun Records (owned by Ledisi and Manning) on January 1, 2000. “Papa Loved to Love Me” — a personal account of a father sexually abusing his daughter — is one of the CD’s most riveting and controversial tracks.
You can follow my conversation with Ledisi on Twitter @realdjvybe or @ledisi on Twitter.com.
Artist bio licensed under GFDL from Wikipedia.