Finesse, who produced one third of Big L’s debut album, Lifestylez of Da Poor & Dangerous, among hundreds of other D.I.T.C. tracks, chilled out with his own solo projects after dropping his third album, the Awakening, on Penalty Records in February ’96.
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The great Jadakiss once rapped the line “dead rappers get better promotion,” which has grown to be known as one of the most profound phrases in hip-hop history. Since then, the eight original D.I.T.C. members have individually and collectively released hundreds of albums, compilations, EPs, and 12-inch singles, while the crew’s four producers have laid down thousands of beats for a combined roster ranging from House of Pain to P. Diddy. After ten years of laying down the foundation with individual releases and live shows, D.I.T.C. released their first collective album, Worldwide, on Tommy Boy Records in February 2000. Following that, the crew dropped several compilations of rare and previously unreleased material, and a second collective album, the Movement, on D.I.T.C. Records in November ’08.
Lamont Coleman (May 30, 1974 – February 15, 1999) was an American rapper better known by his stage name, Big L. Damon Dash: He was known as Big L the Rapper. He always was nice. He was the guy in Harlem that was the best rapper on Lenox. There wasn’t nobody else but Big L.
Though his later production work never stacked up as high as the work of his fellow crew members Lord Finesse, Showbiz, and Diamond D, Buckwild’s beats have underscored some prominent names in hip-hop, including Kool G Rap, Nas , Jay-Z, and P. Diddy.
Big L has been cited as an influence by many of hip-hop’s biggest stars, including Eminem, who was undoubtedly inspired by L’s uncanny wordplay and his propensity to shock listeners, and Mac Miller, who has one of L’s song titles, Street Struck,” tattooed on his arm, and names Lamont Coleman as the reason why he decided to become a rapper.
That farm-system approach to cultivating artists dates back to a time when Lord Finesse was at the peak of his mentoring game and helping others get on: like the late Lamont Coleman. He was shot and killed in Harlem on the night of February 15, 1999, just blocks away from his home. He was only 24 years old at the time of his death.
In the eyes of most hip-hop artists, Diamond D has done enough to continue doing what he wants. His October ’08 release on Babygrande Records , the Huge Hefner Chronicles, was crafted as an ode to the late J Dilla ‘s Pay Jay—a seasoned producer rhyming on other people’s beats. The D.I.T.C. co-founder, and one of the first hip-hop producers to start a solo career as a lyricist, made his first mark DJing for Jazzy Jay of the Zulu Nation in ’79.
Ron Browz: “Ebonics” was premeditated. The way that song was written, you could tell it wasn’t written in one day. We recorded it on tape in my mother’s house just to see how it sounded as a reference. I was like, “Wow, that’s a dope idea.” The next week we was at D&D Studios making the record. For that Ebonics” beat, he gave me like $1,500 in cash. That was the first time I got paid for a beat. I was just like, “Cool.” It was’t about the money for me at the time. I just wanted my music to be heard. He was telling me he was working on a deal. He was gonna sign to Roc-A-Fella. Basically he was saying you’re gonna start getting paid more after he got the deal.
C.: He was the youngest, so naturally he was like the little brother. Nobody expected that. It derailed the collective, put a black cloud over us. He was on his way to greatness. People tend to forget that the streets and the music business crisscross. And sometimes you get caught up. Some people are lucky enough to get past it. L wasn’t. Everybody was like, ‘See, I knew he was a gangster.’ Oh, so that’s why you murder somebody? You ain’t even know him! That’s why a lot of this R.I.P. stuff isn’t genuine, man.
The lyrical titan gone too soon, Big L would have been one of the biggest rappers in history if it weren’t for his premature death. Murdered in February 1999 at the age of 24, the rapper born Lamont Coleman only released one proper album before his death, 1995’s Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous. In just one album, Harlem`s own had already established himself as the untouchable king of punchlines, delivered in his unmistakably aggressive compound flow. Big L`s freestyles on The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show (in 1995 with Jay-Z,and in 1998 solo) have amassed major cult followings online and live on as the benchmark of the freestyle verse.
On 15 February 1999, Coleman was fatally shot by an unknown assailant in Harlem. His second studio album, The Big Picture , was put together by Coleman’s manager, Rich King. It was released the following year and was certified gold. Four posthumous albums have been released, mainly consisting of unreleased songs which were put together by Rich King and Coleman’s brother Donald. A documentary about his life called Street Struck: The Big L Story is being made and currently does not have a release date, although a trailer for the documentary is available on YouTube.
Kurt: The people at Columbia didn’t understand that you have to get the street beat first and then move on to the mainstream. When L started coming with all these underground, urban grassroots rap records they didn’t get it. They looked at it like Oh, we can’t get on radio with this right away. We can’t take this Top 30.” So I think a lot of people started to fade their attention from L, which I didn’t understand. That was not their world at that time.
The most commercially successful of the original D.I.T.C. members, but also one of the most estranged, Fat Joe (known in the early ’90s as Fat Joe da Gangsta) has hustled in his own ways to stay relevant in the ever-shifting music industry. His July 2010 release, The Darkside Vol. 1 on E1 Music (formerly Koch Records), part of a three album series, debuted at #27 on the Billboard 200.
Coleman caught the eye of Damon Dash , the CEO of Roc-A-Fella Records , after the release of “Ebonics”. Dash wanted to sign him to Roc-A-Fella, but Coleman wanted his friends to sign with him. On 8 February 1999, Coleman, Herb McGruff , C-Town and Jay-Z started the process to sign with Roc-A-Fella Records as a group called “The Wolfpack”.
In 1997, he started working on his second studio album, The Big Picture Children of the Corn disbanded after the death of Bloodshed in a car accident on 2 March 1997. In 1998, Coleman formed his own independent label, Flamboyant Entertainment He also released the single ” Ebonics ” in 1998; The Source called it one of the top five independent singles of the year. DITC released their first single, “Dignified Soldiers” that year.
Jewlz: He started writing and he rhymed for D-Wiz and me. We took him to my man Short Man’s home studio. Short man was a guy who was like a staple producer in Harlem. He worked with Teddy Riley. It was like a kid who fights on the street but now he’s going to the boxing gym, so a trainer can put it into a form. He was on his Wax on, wax off, Daniel-san ” shit.
BNC has been over a decade in the making thanks to J.C. Watts, the former Oklahoma congressman who wanted to create a platform similar to CNN with only news and insight by people of color. Networks like BET and TVOne have respectfully released similar programming in the past with BET Nightly News and News One Now hosted by Roland Martin, but this new network plans to run on a 24-hour news cycle while tying in programs that will benefit teens, women, and HBCUs.
Harlem – New York City based hip-hop MC and a member of the D.I.T.C. crew. Kurt Woodley: I started Big L’s introduction to Columbia Records. Woodley, who lived at the West 139th Street building, was pronounced dead at Harlem Hospital , police said.
Funk Flex: on the notion that L was going to sign to Roc-A-Fella Records The Roc wouldn’t have been the best thing for him—matter of fact, I believe the Roc was gonna shelve L if they signed him. They were never gonna put that project out. They were scared of him. He was on that freestyle where he spanked Jay-Z, remember? the legendary 7-minute freestyle between L and Jay-Z on The Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito Show on WKCR, for which Lord Sear was present. That back-and-forth was an extension of previous rhyme battles in Harlem. I dare anybody to tell me different.
The first AG & Showbiz album, Runaway Slave, released on Payday Records in September ’92, has become a staple inside and outside of the music industry. Riding off of the success of that release, later ranked as one of Billboard’s Top Ten Underground LP’s, the duo dropped four more projects together over the next fifteen years. Their Full Scale EP on D.I.T.C. Records played in steady rotation on the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show on WKCR in ’98 providing them with a fresh buzz around the five boroughs. Four years later, in the 2002 movie 8 Mile, millions of people watched Eminem (Rabbit) battle one of his many opponents over the instrumental to Showbiz & AG’s single Next Level (Nyte Time Mix)” produced by DJ Premier.
After six years of working mostly with his D.I.T.C. cohorts, Buckwild freaked one of his most infamous beats on the Black Rob single Whoa!” in 2000. That formula for success started with the examples laid out by his South Bronx neighbors. As Finesse told Grind Music Radio in an August 2010 video interview, Buckwild quit his job at D’Agostino and bought his own SP1200 in the early ’90s after witnessing the growing successes of those around him.
Sometime in 1993, Coleman released his first promotional single, “Devil’s Son”, and claimed it was the first horrorcore single released. He said he wrote the song because “I’ve always been a fan of horror flicks. Plus the things I see in Harlem are very scary. So I just put it all together in a rhyme.” On 18 February 1993, Coleman performed live at the Uptown Lord Finesse Birthday Bash at the 2,000 Club, which included performances from Fat Joe, Nas , and Diamond D. In 1994, he released his second promotional single “Clinic”. On 11 July 1994, Coleman released the radio edit of ” Put It On ” featuring Kid Capri , and three months later the music video was released. In 1995, the video for the single ” No Endz, No Skinz ” debuted, which was directed by Brian Luvar.
I also believe that Big L is the greatest freestyler of all-time. Most people believe that his ‘98 Freestyle” is his best freestyle ever, but I disagree because I believe that his 7 Minute Freestyle with Jay-Z is the greatest Freestyle in hip-hop history. It was on the Stretch and Bobbito show in 1995, and Big L spit some of the best bars ever in a freestyle! Here’s the link to that as well if you haven’t heard it before.