Today (February 7) marks the 9 year anniversary of the sudden and premature passing of Christopher Rios, better known to the world as Big Pun.
After enduring a rough childhood growing up in the Bronx, Pun sought refuge in rhyming to deal with his mother’s drug addiction and an abusive step father.
By the late 80s, he had met lifelong friends Cuban Link, Triple Seis, and Prospect. Together, they formed a music click coined the Full a Clips Crew.
During this time, Pun would be known to fellow local emcees by his first stage name, Big Moon Dawg. Years of work paid off in 1995 when Pun met fellow Bronx rapper Fat Joe.
Impressed to find such a raw talent in his own borough, Joe featured Pun extensively on what many consider his best LP, Jealous One’s Envy.
After building a strong buzz with underground hits such as “You Ain’t a Killer,” Pun dropped his seminal 1998 debut Capital Punishment.
Celebrated for its varied displays of lyricism, flows (“The Dream Shatterer,” “Beware”) and powered by the hit single “Still Not a Player,” the album became the first platinum album ever from a Latino emcee.
Also, the LP scored a Grammy nomination for 1998’s Hip-Hop Album of the Year.
Pun’s stardom was short-lived, as the Bronx native could not gain control over his weight issues, even after ballooning to over 500 pounds and several attempted interventions from family and friends.
On February 7, 2000, Pun succumbed to a fatal heart attack at the age of 28.
Since his death, two posthumous albums (Yeeeah Baby, Endangered Species) and a controversial documentary (Still Not a Player) from his widow Liza Rios have been released.
Sometime this year, Pun’s life will receive further examination with a new documentary entitled Big Pun: The Legacy.
The tribute project was originally announced last summer, but was delayed over post-production and distribution issues.
The film is reported to contain never before seen interviews and performances from Pun.
Additionally, the documentary features reflections from industry colleagues who Pun inspired personally or through his music, such as the Wu-Tang Clan, DMX, Snoop Dogg, Chuck D, Rosie Perez, Mobb Deep, and Cypress Hill.
At press time, a release date has not been set for the film. This year, Big Pun would have celebrated his 38th birthday.