March 28, 2021

Big L "Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous" (3/28/95)

There is a small number of MCs who can keep you hanging on every syllable; Big L may soon be among them. L's lyrical wit, clarity and lethal one-liners have more lasting value than gold ingots on his debut Lifestylez ov da Poor and Dangerous. He gives his mentor Lord Finesse the first shout-out on the album's opening cut, "Put It On," before delivering a tireless parade of hardcore punch lines that rock like a left hook to the grill. As an MC, Big L clearly casts himself in the rhyme-savvy old-school; the callous, often brutal tone of his first-person raps is cleverly offset by imaginative lyrical hooks ("I got a crime record longer than Manute Bol") on nearly every cut, transforming outrageous rhetoric into artistic gems. While he can drop your jaw like a Paul Mooney outburst on "No Endz, No Skinz," Big L will also astound you with his fluid hardcore flow on "MVP," "Danger Zone" and "I Don't Understand It," along with the posse-cut "8 Iz Enuff." - CMJ New Music Monthly, April 1995. Big L's debut album is certainly a release we need to continue to celebrate along with the life of one of our slain legends. Hopefully you cop'd the exclusive 25th anniversary vinyl last year, the images of it are above and below. Revisit Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous below and R.I.P., Big L!

Original contact sheet from the book Contact High...