In a time where New York saw the early spawn of cultural breaking groups like Wu-Tang Clan and The Diplomats, an aspiring young rapper by the name of Big L would break onto the scene and disappear in almost the same amount of time during his rise. With his first and only record in his lifetime, Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous was a beginning to the capturing of horrid raps over smooth production with a dangerous, but charismatic leader of rhymes.
Big L grabs the listener with his first track, “Put It On” that features stylish production as Big L switches flows as if he was changing shoes. It comes naturally while he musically dashes to the finish line, showing this athleticism that is tough and highlights a stronger side to the NY street gods. Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous is a tough record that shows the gritty underbelly of New York while still introducing some new styles to the game. Big L’s rhymes were some of the first bars that could make an audience laugh and then show their teeth in aggression within the next line.
Describing on the track, “Put it On,” where Big L illustrates, “Some brothers still be virgins if crack never came out, I got the wild style, always been a foul child…I’m known to have a hottie open, I keep the shotty smoking. Front, and get half the bones in your body broken.” He was almost like a stand-up comedian who worked to create these punchlines at every turn. This was a different breed of New York than it is today, this was a time where the rhymes were the motivating feature behind moving a sound.
On the rap equivalent to Taxi Driver, we follow Big L through a day in the life of a murderous artist of the 9mm. He moves to the track “All Black” where he grazes topics like AIDS, dead cops, and lunch meat. Big L describes, “Cause if Big L got the AIDS, every cutie in the city got it. Once a nigga tried to stick me for six G’s, and I put more holes in his ass than Swiss cheese.” But the chorus is where Lifestylez Ov Da Broke & Dangerous sums of the entire record as Big L says, “Ducks better scat when the gat goes click-clack, or I’mma have your family dressed in all black,” illustrating a funeral to anyone that tries to press Big L.
For some strange reason, he is the tragic hero of hip-hop that showed potential that people could gravitate toward. Audiences just love to hate, and Big L is public enemy numero uno on his record Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous. This was also Big L’s only studio record to be released in his life as he was shot nine times during a drive-by shooting in Harlem. An untimely demise for one of New York’s rising hip-hop powerhouses that shocked audiences and had a Boeing 747 full of rhymes ready to go.