Capital Punishment is the only record that was released while Big Pun was alive and in a similar fashion to Big L, their debut record stands a test of time and amplifies hip-hop to a fur coat era.
Opening with the first musical track being “Beware,” the instrumental is lined up as a Mobb Deep cut with this thumping production that gives Pun foundation to stomp on. Pushing the audience back to give some air, Big Pun describes, “Yo! What you thought, Pun’s shit was weak? Now you can’t sleep. Gotta keep your eyes open wide and hide your face from the streets.” He continues on in nearly one single inhale, “I’m like the beast with a warrant, far from a law man. Gave you fair warnin’, now you on the stairs fallin’.”
As the sample from Prodigy that illustrates, “I gave you fair warning… beware,” rides over the production from Juju; Big Pun becomes this mafioso capo. Fitted in the finest suits of silk and hats of peachbloom. Big Pun continues to pour Rosé over the audience while seated at a checkered table for elegance.
It’s not all murder or violence with Capital Punishment which gives “Punish Me” that features Miss Jones this smooth almost RnB style for a delusion on the mix. The production is a wildly different jump from the grimy style of “Beware,” instead, the work on “Punish Me” is immaculately sleek and gives these warm methods of styling.
Miss Jones begins the track by describing, “Come back come back come back come back to me, punisher punish me. I’ve been so bad, so bad, won’t you come back, please.” The production then picks up on these jazzy keys in a smoke-filled room where Big Pun takes a second verse to respond. He calmly replies, “Nah baby, I’m not gonna be able to do it, you blew it. Threw it all the way cause you was stupid, girl why’d you do it?”
Even as Big Pun goes back to the ugliness and grimy style on “Caribbean Connection,” there are moments where Pun is elegant on the track and can relate to being the commander on the microphone.
Capital Punishment is at its best when Pun is gripping the audience through crime and seedy underbellies. The double-faced nature that switches to being compassionate and humanistic makes Capital Punishment more than just simply a hip-hop record. Before his passing at 28, Pun was making moves like a musical Castro and captured this spirit of New York in a whole new set of hands.