February 15, 2022

Rest In Beats, Big L (Daily News, 1999)

Adoring fans, friends mourn slain rapper: A rising rap star was mourned yesterday in his Harlem neighborhood, two days after he was gunned down three blocks from his home. Big L, whose real name was Lamont Coleman, was struck by nine bullets in the face and chest Monday night at 139th St. and Lenox Ave. -- a corner featured on the cover of his latest single, "Ebonics." Police said they don't know why Big L was killed, adding that the slaying didn't seem to have anything to do with a feud between East and West Coast rap factions. "Everything points to him being a good kid," said one detective. "We have no suspects, no motives." To his fans, Big L was a legend in the underground rap world, acclaimed by hip hop magazines The Source and Vibe, and dubbed the "King of Harlem World Hip Hop." Big L's mother, Gilda Terry, said she had no idea how big a rap star her son was until people from all over the world called to console her. "People have called from Japan, Switzerland, Croatia," Terry said yesterday, wearing a T-shirt with her son's grinning image and rap moniker. Big L may have talked tough in his lyrics, his friends and family said, but he was a quiet, humble man at heart. His mother said she found her son's journal, opened to his latest poem, on his bed. He was scribbling poetry in it minutes before he died. In one song, "MVP," he rapped: "If rap was a game, I'd be MVP / Most valuable poet." Yesterday, posters of Big L and cardboard signs with scrawled condolences covered a wall near the corner where he died. Flowers and candles were piled on the sidewalk as mourners prayed at the curb. "His music was 'buttah,' it was real nice," said Javon Francis, 12. "He was dumb cool with everyone," said Jarrell Richardson, 11. "Even though he was famous." The rapper was signed to Columbia Records while he was still in high school. His first album, "Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous," was released in 1995, prompting two world tours. Last year, he came back to New York and started his own label, Flamboyant (Fat Beats). He also worked as a producer and writer for other labels, such as Wu-Tang Records. He will appear in an October Films release, "Boricua's Bond." "What was surprising about this brother was that he was a somebody and I was a nobody, but he helped me," said Shyheim, a rapper whose album "Manchild" will be released on Wu Tang this month. "He will be missed." - Daily News (Feb. 18, 1999). Rest in eternal Peace, Big L.