Now Reading: Big L: The Lyrical Genius of Harlem Hip-Hop

Big L

Big L: The Lyrical Genius of Harlem Hip-Hop


Big L, born Lamont Coleman, stands tall in the annals of hip-hop as a master lyricist and storyteller. His meteoric rise and tragic end have left an indelible mark on the genre. Journey with us as we explore the life of this rap icon.


A Star is Born in Harlem:

Big L’s journey began on May 30, 1974, in the vibrant neighborhood of Harlem, New York City. Even as a child, his passion for rap was evident, freestyling with neighborhood friends and absorbing the rhythms of the streets.


The Rise of Big L:

By 1992, Big L had made a name for himself with his unparalleled freestyling ability, catching the attention of hip-hop enthusiasts. His debut album, Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous, released in 1995, showcased his unique lyrical prowess and solidified his position in the rap industry.


Style and Influence:

Big L’s impact wasn’t just about the lyrics; it was about delivery, style, and content. He is often credited with pioneering the horrorcore genre of hip-hop, especially with tracks like “Devil’s Son.” However, he also touched on real-life issues, as seen in songs like “Street Struck.” 


The Art of Rhyming:

One of Big L’s standout attributes was his use of “compounding” in his rap style. With metaphors that packed a punch and a comedic repertoire that left listeners in awe, Big L was a force to be reckoned with. His track “Ebonics” stands as a testament to his command over language and his ability to play with words.


Beyond Music:

Big L’s talents weren’t confined to the recording studio. He ventured into acting, taking roles in films and making a mark with his distinct style and charisma.


A Legacy Cut Short:

Tragically, on February 15, 1999, Big L’s life was abruptly cut short when he was fatally shot in East Harlem. The loss sent shockwaves throughout the hip-hop community, leaving fans and fellow artists mourning the loss of a true legend.


Keeping the Memory Alive:

Despite his untimely demise, Big L’s legacy continues to thrive. A documentary titled Street Struck: The Big L Story was set to be released, capturing the essence of his life and contributions. While the documentary has yet to see the light of day, fans worldwide await its release to celebrate the life of this Harlem icon.



Big L’s influence in hip-hop is immeasurable. His lyrical genius, combined with his authentic portrayal of life in Harlem, has made him a legend. While his life was cut tragically short, Big L’s legacy will forever reverberate through the annals of hip-hop history.


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