Tuesday, Sep. 13, 2011

Big L

Lamont Coleman grew up in an area of Harlem then known as the "danger zone" for its often violent crack-cocaine trade. A lyrical master, he sharpened his skills with street-corner rap battles and before long was part of the D.I.T.C. (Diggin' in the Crates Crew), one of New York City's best underground hip-hop troupes of the early 1990s. His work eventually won him notice from Columbia Records, which signed him in 1992 and released his debut solo album, Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous, under the name Big L. Sadly, his story ends there. As he was recording his follow-up album and reportedly in talks to sign with Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella Records, Coleman was killed in 1999 at age 24 after suffering multiple gun-shot wounds just a few blocks from where he grew up. Initial reports speculated that his assailant either wanted vengeance against his then incarcerated older brother or mistook him for his brother. Gerard Woodley, 29, was charged with the murder, but was later released because of insufficient evidence. Three posthumous albums have been released.