Although he may not have had the mainstream appeal of other
fallen Hip-Hop icons, Big L was no less talented. And certainly no less loved.
This Wednesday (Feb. 16) Lord Finesse and the estate of Big
L will honor the boastful Harlem emcee with an all-star tribute show at SOBs
in New York City featuring appearances by the Diggin’ in the Crates crew,
DJ Premier, Pharaoh Monche, and a host of others.
“I want people to celebrate his music,” Finesse
told AllHipHop.com about the event.
The show comes six years and one day after the murder of the
gifted lyricist. Big L was killed near his home February 15, 1999 when a gunman
approached him and fired off shots in what was believed to be a retaliation
hit against the rapper’s then incarcerated brother, Lee Coleman, who L
frequently shouted out in rhyme.
Between a series of legal entanglements with Big L’s label,
Flamboyant Entertainment, and Finesse’s reluctance to pursue a tribute,
plans for a show continued to stall.
“It’s (was) hard for me to do it, because between
him being killed and my birthday, they neck and neck, really,” said Finesse.
Ultimately, the show prevailed. Finesse felt his late friend
should be honored in the same manner as The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur
are each year.
“When they talk about rappers that passed, they only talk
about two people,” a dismayed Finesse said. “They don’t even
talk about Trouble T-Roy anymore. It’s just Biggie and ‘Pac. Hip-Hop
is comprised of more soldiers that fell than just them two.”
In addition to honoring L, plans for a new solo album and DVD
on the rapper are in the works, according to Rena Lowenbraun, the lawyer for
Big L’s estate.
“If you’re a real Hip-Hop head, you know who Big
L was,” Lowenbraun said. “But not everybody does. To me, it’s
introducing to a whole new audience of people who should have known who he was,
but for the fact that his life was cut short, [don ’t].”
Finessed agreed. Besides calling his longtime protégé
ahead of his time, he felt it was only a matter of time before Big L’s
fanfare matched his street acclaim.
“People tend to forget,” he said. “When it
comes to Big L, he revolutionized the movement in Harlem. Before you had the
Mases, the Cam’rons, Loon, the Diplomats, it was a Big L before that.
“His sales didn’t match his talent,” continued
Finesse. “It started to, but he was killed before it really transpired.
Because I think eventually his sales would have matched the respect he got in
the streets. It was inevitable.”
Big L signed to Columbia Records as a teenager and released
Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous, which featured “Da Graveyard.”
The underground hit featured future star Jay-Z.
“You think he Young Hov now, he was really Young Hov then,”
After Big L’s death, his estate released the posthumous
album The Big Picture on Rawkus Records. While the album served as
an initial tribute to the mic skills of Big L, the show at SOBs will celebrate
both his music and his life.
Said Finesse of Big L: “He was just something special,