Big L’s First Verse On Wax Showed Heads That He Was A Rookie MVP (Audio)

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Big L lived to see just one of his albums release. 1995’s Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous has become something of a cult classic. The Columbia/Sony Records LP has early JAY-Z and Cam’ron appearances and lethal D.I.T.C. production from Lord Finesse, Showbiz, as well as Buckwild. However, all of that takes a back-seat to Lamont Coleman’s cutting lyricism about life in the “Danger Zone,” Rap exploits, and a twisted interior monologue. At the time of his death, L was plotting an incredible follow-up in The Big Picture. Sadly, the Harlem, New Yorker would never live to see that LP through, or hoist its gold plaque.

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Like Jay, Nas, or today’s Kendrick Lamar, Big L’s journey was not easy, and it was not quick. While platforms like Stretch & Bobbito were early to Lamont’s mastery, labels and gatekeepers were not. In hindsight, L blazed a trail of talent far before his debut. As far as wax goes, that journey began on a Lord Finesse 12″ single. Like Diamond D (via Ultimate Force), Finesse was one of the first Diggin’ artists to get on. He reportedly discovered L in an Uptown record store. While Finesse rarely gets credit for it, he had a sharply witty sense about him, impeccable timing, and the ability to craft a punchline as well as anybody in the early 1990s scene. Like Large Professor with Nas, Jaz-O with Jay, or Snoop with Tha Dogg Pound, a-alike styles prevailed. Finesse plausibly saw some of himself and his style in teenaged L, and put him on. Like so many early ’90s songs, it was not a grand gesture.

Finesse’s February of 1992 sophomore Return Of The Funky Man may be the triple-threat’s best work. While the Lord would enhance his production, he commandeered the mic device in his short-lived stint with Ice-T’s Rhyme Syndicate boutique label at Warner Bros. After a short run at Wild Pitch (signed by Gang Starr’s Guru), Finesse created just a few spots for guests. A.G. was his star pupil, while “rhyme inspector” Percee P (who battled Finesse in Patterson projects in 1989) both appeared on the album track “Yes You May.”

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In May of ’92, a T-Ray produced B-side remix of “Yes You May” was released, backed by “Party Over Here” and “Save That Sh*t.” This time, (despite the vocals claiming A.G. and Percee were still on board) Finesse solely tapped Big L to put that cocky wordplay to work, with show-stopping punchlines:

Ayo everywhere that I go, brothers know my f*cking name / I’m flooring ni**as, and I only weigh a buck and change / I gave a lot of black eyes in my extorting days / F*cking with me, a lotta ni**as was sporting shades / I grab the microphone and scar jerks / Ni**as running up, ‘Put me on!,’ What the f*ck, is this, Star Search? / I’m relieving rappers like Sudafed / And if the microphone was smoke then Big L would be a Buddha head / Ayo my crew’s real smooth like mopeds / I was rocking mics since ni**as was wearing Pro Keds / I only roll with originators / Chicks stick to my d*ck like magnets on refrigerators / I’m a crazy mean lyricist / Many are in fear of this, yeah, so they stand clear of this / And those that refuse the order, Big L bruise and slaughter / Ni**as hear me and take notes like a news reporter / I’ll bend a rapper like a fender, I’m slender, but far from tender / Killing ni**as like a Klan member / You can’t touch this, your rhyme’s too darn weak, front / And I’m a introduce your brains to the concrete / I keep h*es satisfied, I’m pushing the fattest ride / To take me out, troop, even the baddest tried / But they failed ’cause my techniques are liver / I’m so def I need a hearing aid with an equalizer / You tried to hit a home run, but you struck out / My rhymes were released, I’d like to say peace the f*ck out.

Other Ambrosia For Heads Do Remember Features.

Like Nas on Main Source’s “Live At The Barbeque,” Big L made the most vicious debut he could. And just like Large Professor on that joint a year earlier, Finesse showed he had it locked too. The UnderBoss kicked flavor like “I’m scoring mine, never kicking boring rhymes / I’m living larger than my d*ck in the morning time / I get paid and laid on a good night / Me take a loss? That sh*t don’t even look right / Brothers couldn’t win against me with their hardest tactics / I hang ’em and use their ass for target practice / If you think you can troop, go recruit your team or group / We can battle for some loot, sh*t / I take you, and plus the rest of your squad / Bust your ass and make you all get messenger jobs.” This was a two-MC punch that sounded great, and knew early what the rest of the world would come to find out.

#BonusBeat: The Lord Finesse vs. Percee P Patterson Projects battle:

Elements of this battle would be the basis of Finesse’s “Rock and Roll” verse with Handsome Boy Modeling School.