O.C. Tells The Heartbreaking Story Of How He Learned Of Big L’s Death (Video)
O.C. recently released his album Same Moon Same Sun. Available without cost for download, the D.I.T.C. Entertainment LP is the latest in a career that spans back more than 25 years. The Brooklyn, New York representative has been a key MC within Diggin’ In The Crates, and made important records with Organized Konfusion, Crooklyn Dodgers, and Jay Z.
Appearing on Sway In The Morning, O—a longtime guest of The Wake Up Show dropped some powerful anecdotes from a career extremely admired by Hip-Hop purists. Asked about how he joined D.I.T.C. (as one of the later artists), O.C. admits he cannot even recall. Running with Organized Konfusion on an early 1990s tour produced by The Source magazine sent O.C. on the road with Lord Finesse and then-protege Buckwild. Connecting on the road, Buck’ (with some contribution from ‘Ness) produced the resulting 1994 debut, Word…Life.
Towards the interview’s midpoint, Sway asks O.C. about Big L. The MCs famously worked together on 1997’s “Dangerous” single from Jewelz. After Da Beatminerz-laced track, O.C. would guest on 2000’s The Big Picture, care of Terror Squad (Fat Joe & Remy Ma) assisted track “The Triboro.” Sadly, that gold-certified Rawkus Records LP would release after Big L’s February 15, 1999 death. The MC was killed just feet from his house, the area he rapped about as “The Danger Zone” in one of Rap’s most tragic ironies.
O.C. recalls taking Big L on the Jewelz Tour. It was during this late ’90s period that he witnessed his D.I.T.C. brother grow by leaps and bounds. “I seen the paradigm shift with [Big L]. He was on the ‘Devil’s Son’ shit, but then he [got] into his bag. I was like, ‘Wow, I gotta step my game up.’ I seen him progress in such a short period of time. I mean, y’all heard it: he got on the radio with [Jay Z] on Stretch & [Bobbito] and it was like, whoa.” Sway admits that in those mid-’90s radio spots, Big L eclipsed Jay Z (who, with Dame Dash and Kareem Burke, reportedly wanted to sign him to Roc-A-Fella Records). O’ continues, “Jay’s my man; Jay is a genius in my mind, but L was a genius too.”
O.C. recalls Big L penning parts of “Ebonics” while the two men flew overseas. At the time, O.C. admits he did not pay proper attention to the greatness that Lamont Coleman was writing. “When he made ‘Ebonics’ and ‘Size ‘Em Up’ he was there; y’all just didn’t hear it yet.” That overseas jaunt to Croatia was promoted Phat Phillie, who is photographed with L and O.C.
The Sway conversation builds to Same Moon Same Sun. The album features a powerful song, “Real Life.” O.C. explains, “‘Real Life’ was basically something I held onto for…what’s he been gone, 18 [years]? I held onto it up until I did [Same Moon Same Sun], which was last year. I just held onto it. I was like, ‘I gotta let that go, man.’ It was haunting me. The reason I say that is, for people who didn’t hear the song…I was waitin’ for L in D&D [Studios] that night [he was killed].” Big L was reportedly in transit, expected by O.C. in the now defunct Midtown Manhattan studio famously used by DJ Premier, Da Beatminerz, Tony Touch, and D.I.T.C. “If I’m not mistaken, he was on the [George Washington] Bridge. I was waitin’ for L and beepin’ him…we had beepers back then. I’m callin’ him. I’m leaving voicemails. He’s not getting back to me. The reason being, I had another idea to do a record with him, and he wasn’t getting back. So I got upset…not upset, but [realizing] that’s not like him. Anyway, I go home. I hop in my whip. I’m goin’ through the Midtown Tunnel. I’m still beepin’ him and callin’ him, he’s not returning my calls.”
O.C. arrived at his home, close to where he grew up. “So fast forward, I get home. My lady was like…I came in the house and she was teary-eyed. She wasn’t boo-hoo’ing, I’m [thinking], damn, she must have found a number [to another woman] or somethin’. I done fucked up, what I do now?’ So when I got closer to her, [being upset at me was not the vibe]. Automatically, I was like, ‘Who’s dead?’ And she was like, L. So the first thing that came to [my] mind was [Lord] Finesse—both [nicknamed L]. I was like, ”Ness?’ She was like, ‘Naw, L. Big L. Show just called. Him and [Fat] Joe were standing right over his body in Harlem, lookin’ at his boots under the sheet, and the [caution] tape and all that.'”
“Real Life” from the free album download of Same Moon Same Sun:
O.C. says the trauma from that experience has haunted him for nearly 20 years. “It was that. And I held onto that shit. And I think Show took the weight, so he didn’t remember callin’ everybody, but I know he put the call into everybody.”
At the end of Big L’s life, he and O.C. were reportedly planning a joint album. The first of the records was “Get Yours,” which appeared on The Black Mask soundtrack, which released a month after L’s death.
#BonusBeat: Less than a year after Big L passed, D.I.T.C. (including O.C.) made the song “Tribute” from The Album:
O.C. discusses missing a call from Big L the night before his murder, on Valentine’s Day. This Tommy Boy Records track is produced by Diggin’ affiliate Ahmed.