Birth name – Christopher Lee Rios
Born – November 10, 1971
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
Died – February 7, 2000 (aged 28)
White Plains, New York
Genres – Hip hop
Occupations – Rapper, actor
Years active – 1995–2000
Labels – Loud
Associated acts – Terror Squad, Fat Joe, N.O.R.E., Heavy D, The Beatnuts, Cuban Link, Tony Sunshine, Donnell Jones, Joe, Jennifer Lopez, Ashanti, Remy Ma, Just Blaze, Dr. Dre, Showbiz, Buckwild, Rockwilder, Younglord, Knobody, Sean C, Irv Gotti, L.E.S., The Infinite Arkatechz
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 and actor. He 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. He died from a heart attack at age 28 on February 7, 2000.
About.com ranked him #25 on its list of the 50 Greatest MCs of Our Time (1987–2007), while MTV2 ranked him #11 on its list of the “22 Greatest MCs.” In 2012, The Source ranked him #19 on their list of the Top 50 Lyricists of All Time. An article from The Rolling Stones Magazine states, “Pun embodied all of the traits of a master wordsmith: melody, a unique flow, an unforgettable voice, humor, and lyrics that made other MCs go back to their black and white composition notebooks.”
Rios grew up in New York City’s South Bronx neighborhood. At the age of 5 young Rios broke his leg while playing in a New York park, which would later lead to a large settlement from the city. By all accounts from Pun’s family, his early years were very difficult, including witnessing his mother’s drug abuse, his father’s death, and a stepfather who was very hard on Pun. According to his grandmother, Pun would become angry and self-destructive, punching holes in the walls of his family’s apartment. Rios dropped out of high school and for some time was homeless staying in abandoned buildings.
Sometime during the ’90s, 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.
Excluding his adolescence, Big Pun struggled with a weight problem for most of his life; his weight fluctuated in the early 1990s between obese and morbidly obese. Big Pun partook in a weight-loss program in North Carolina, in which he lost 80 pounds (36 kg), but he eventually quit the program before completing it, returning to New York and gaining back the weight he had lost. On February 7, 2000, Big Pun suffered a fatal heart attack and respiratory failure while temporarily staying with family at a Crowne Plaza Hotel in White Plains, New York during a home renovation. Pun was pronounced dead at the hospital after paramedics could not revive him. Big Pun was at his highest weight at the time of his death: 698 pounds. He was cremated a few days later. His second album, Yeeeah Baby, was released two months later. Big Pun is survived by his wife, Liza, and their three children, Amanda (born 1991), Vanessa (born 1993), and Christopher (born 1994)
Big Pun: The Legacy documentary
An authorized documentary “Big Pun: The Legacy” was released on September 15, 2009. The film contains multiple interviews with artists, actors, close friends and others whose lives were touched by Big Pun, as well as rare exclusive performances and scene interviews with Big Pun himself. The film also features appearances by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Snoop Dogg, DMX, Method Man, U-God, Liza Rios, Xzibit, Cuban Link, Swizz Beatz, DJ Skribble, Chino XL and many more. The film was directed by Vlad Yudin and was distributed through Vivendi/Universal.
A different version of the DVD “Big Pun: The Legacy,” was released called “Big Pun: The Legacy (Special Collector’s Edition)” a little over a year later on September 28, 2010 through EMI Label Group. This film includes never-before-seen footage and the “Lost Files” archive.
The soundtrack to the film, “The Legacy: The Best of Big Pun” was released through Legacy/Columbia Records/Sony Music on September 15, 2009.
On September 8, 1998, Fat Joe and Big Pun were arrested on assault charges for hitting a man with a baseball bat and stealing the man’s gold chain on June 14 that year.
Main article: Big Pun discography
1998: Capital Punishment
2000: Yeeeah Baby
2001: Endangered Species
Big Pun feat. Fat Joe — Twinz.
I’m Not a Player’
Still Not a Player’
You Came Up’
Whatcha Gonna Do’
Big Pun с Cuban Link и Beatnuts — Off the Books
100 % c Tony Sunshine
How We Roll’
Big Pun feat. Donell Jones — It’s So Hard
Fat Joe с Big Pun, Cuban Link и Triple Seis — Bet Ya Man Can’t (Triz)
Fat Joe с Nas, Big Pun, Jadakiss и Raekwon — John Blaze
Heavy D с Big Pun и Eightball — On Point
Cam’Ron с Big Pun, Charli Baltimore, Silkk, Wyclef — Horse & Carriage (Remix)
Jennifer Lopez с Big Pun и Fat Joe — Feelin’ So Good
Mack 10 c Big Pun и Fat Joe — Let The Games Begin
Mr. Serv-On с Big Pun — From N.Y. To N.O.
Noreaga с Big Pun, Nature, The Lox и Cam’Ron — Banned From TV
Rah Sun ft Big Pun- I’ll Be Around.
Fat Joe — Don Cartagena.
Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz – Deja Vu (Uptown Baby).
Moesha(TV series) (series A Terrible Thing Happened on My Tour of College (1998) – Himself (as Big Punisher)
Thicker Than Water (1999) – Punny
Urban Menace (1999) – Crow
Whiteboyz (1999) – Don Flip Crew (uncredited)
Boricua’s Bond (2000) – Himself (as Big Punisher)
Still Not a Player (2002) – Himself (archive footage)
Big Pun Live (2002) – Himself (archive footage)
Big Pun: The Legacy (2009) – Himself (archive footage)
Big Pun: The Legacy/The Lost Files (Special Collector’s Edition) (2010) – Himself (archive footage)
Red Everything Movement