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Big Pun

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Big Pun

Big Pun
Big Pun in 1997
Background information
Birth name Christopher Lee Rios
Also known as Big Punisher, Pun
Born (1971-11-10)November 10, 1971
The Bronx, New York, New York, U.S.
Died February 7, 2000(2000-02-07) (aged 28)
White Plains, New York, U.S.
Genres Hip hop
Occupation(s) Rapper, Actor
Years active 1995–2000
Labels Loud
Associated acts Terror Squad, Fat Joe, N.O.R.E., Heavy D, Mr. Serv-On, The Beatnuts, Tony Sunshine, Donell Jones, Joe, Jennifer Lopez, Ashanti, Remy Ma, Just Blaze, Dr. Dre, Showbiz, Buckwild, Rockwilder, Younglord, Knobody, Sean C, Irv Gotti, L.E.S., The Infinite Arkatechz, Cuban Link

Christopher Lee Rios[1] (November 10, 1971 – February 7, 2000), better known by his stage name Big Pun (short for Big Punisher), was an American rapper and actor. Big Pun emerged from the underground hip hop scene in The Bronx borough of New York City, in the late 1990s. He first appeared on albums from The Beatnuts, on the track "Off the Books" in 1997, and on Fat Joe's second album Jealous One's Envy in 1995, prior to signing to Loud Records as a solo artist. Pun's lyrics are notable for technical efficiency, having minimal pauses to take a breath, heavy use of alliteration as well as internal and multi-syllabic rhyming schemes.


Early life

Rios was born on November 10, 1971 in The Bronx, New York City, United States, to parents of Puerto Rican descent. He grew up in the South Bronx neighborhood of the city.[4][5] At the age of five, Rios broke his leg while playing in a park, which would later lead to a large settlement from the city.[6] By all accounts from Pun's family, his early years were very difficult, including witnessing his mother's drug abuse and his father's death.[7] According to his grandmother, Pun would become angry and self-destructive, punching holes in the walls of his family's apartment. Rios dropped out of high school and for some time was homeless staying in abandoned buildings.

Music career

Sometime during the 1990s, he began to write rap lyrics, forming the Full-A-Clips crew with Triple Seis, and Cuban Link who was at the time named "Lyrical Assassin". At this point Big Pun was operating under the alias Big Moon Dawg. Rios met fellow Puerto Rican and Bronx rapper Fat Joe in 1995 and made his commercial debut on Joe's second album, Jealous One's Envy, in addition to appearing on a b-side to Joe's "Envy" single, "Fire Water."

Later, "I'm Not a Player" (featuring an O'Jays sample) was supported by a significant advertising campaign and became an underground hit.

Capital Punishment

In 1997, producer Knobody's production partner Sean C took advantage of his new role as A&R at Loud Records to play Knobody's tracks to Big Pun.[8] Suitably impressed the rapper hired Knobody to remix "I'm Not a Player".[8] The remixed song, featuring Joe and titled "Still Not a Player," became Big Pun's first major mainstream hit and major breakthrough for Knobody.[8] The full-length debut Capital Punishment followed in 1998, and became the first album by a solo Latino rapper to go platinum,[9] peaking at #5 on the Billboard 200. Capital Punishment was also nominated for a Grammy. Pun's second album Yeeeah Baby, although not as successful as his first also went platinum producing two solid hits in "It's So Hard" and "100%".

Big Pun became a member of Terror Squad, a New York-based group of rappers founded by Fat Joe, with most of the roster supplied by the now-defunct Full a Clips Crew who released their debut album The Album in 1999. The album didn't fare well commercially but it was well received critically and the album was meant to start the foundation for all other Terror Squad members to release their solo projects.


Excluding his adolescence, Big Pun struggled with a weight problem for most of his life; his weight fluctuated in the early 1990s between obese and morbidly obese. Big Pun partook in a weight-loss program in North Carolina in which he lost 80 pounds (36 kg), but he eventually quit the program before completing it, returning to New York and gaining back the weight he had lost.[5]

On February 7, 2000, Big Pun suffered a fatal heart attack and respiratory failure while temporarily staying with family at a Crowne Plaza Hotel in White Plains, New York, during a home renovation. Pun was pronounced dead at the hospital after paramedics could not revive him. Big Pun was at his highest weight at the time of his death: 698 pounds (317 kg).[10] He was cremated a few days later. Big Pun is survived by his wife, Liza, and their three children, Amanda (born 1991), Vanessa (born 1993), and Christopher (born 1994).[11]

Posthumous works

His second album, Yeeeah Baby, completed before his death, was issued as scheduled in April 2000. It peaked at #3 on the Billboard charts and earned gold record status within three months of its release. A posthumous compilation album, Endangered Species, was released in April 2001. Endangered Species collected some of Pun's "greatest hits," previously unreleased material, numerous guest appearances, and remixed "greatest verses." As with his other albums, it also peaked in the top ten of the Billboard 200, reaching #7, but didn't sell as much as the previous Pun albums had.

Big Punisher was featured with Fat Joe on Duets: The Final Chapter, an album of tracks featuring the Notorious B.I.G, also deceased. The track "Get Your Grind On" begins with a Big Pun radio interview in which he said he would perform a duet with Biggie at the gates of heaven.[12] Punisher was also featured on a track from the revived Terror Squad's second album, True Story, on the track "Bring 'Em Back" with Big L.

On May 2, 2001, a Bronx City Council committee stalled plans to rename a small portion of Rogers Place in honor of Big Pun because of distaste over Big Pun's lyrics, which according to The New York Times "include profanity and references to violence and drug dealing".[13]

Sony Music Entertainment has been considering releasing a second posthumous album featuring unreleased material,[14] but the project is being delayed by Sony.[15] Liza Rios also held an auction in 2005 for her deceased husband's Terror Squad medallion, citing financial difficulties in the wake of Pun's death, and again claiming to have not received any royalty checks for Pun's posthumous album sales (save for a small check from the sales of Endangered Species).[16]

Big Pun: The Legacy documentary

A tribute documentary, Big Pun: The Legacy, was released on September 15, 2009. The film contains multiple interviews with artists, actors, close friends and others whose lives were touched by Big Pun, as well as rare exclusive performances and scene interviews with Big Pun himself. The film also features appearances by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Snoop Dogg, DMX, Method Man, U-God, Liza Rios, Xzibit, Cuban Link, Swizz Beatz, DJ Skribble, Chino XL, Redman, papoose, Sticky Fingaz, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Killer Mike and many more. The film was directed by Vlad Yudin, and is distributed through Vivendi Universal and The Soundtrack is released through Legacy Recordings/Columbia Records.



Year Title Peak chart positions[17] Certifications
(Sales thresholds)
1998 Capital Punishment
  • Released: April 28, 1998
  • Label: Loud
5 1 11
2000 Yeeeah Baby
  • Released: April 4, 2000
  • Label: Loud
3 1
2001 Endangered Species
  • Released: April 3, 2001
  • Label: Loud
7 2

Bronx Legends Never Die EP

  • Released: December 2014
  • Label: Deranged Music


Year Title Peak chart positions[19] Album
U.S. U.S. R&B U.S. Rap
1997 "I'm Not a Player" 57 19 3 Capital Punishment
1998 "Still Not a Player" (featuring Joe) 24 6 13
"You Came Up" (featuring Noreaga) 49 43
2000 "It's So Hard" (featuring Donell Jones) 75 19 11 Yeeeah Baby
"100%" (featuring Tony Sunshine) 64
2001 "How We Roll" (featuring Ashanti) 53 16 Endangered Species

As featured performer

Year Title Peak chart positions Album
1996 "Firewater" (Fat Joe featuring Big Pun, Raekwon, and Armaggedon) 116 Endangered Species
1997 "Off the Books" (The Beatnuts feat. Big Pun and Cuban Link) 86 52 12 Stone Crazy
1998 "Someone to Hold" (Veronica feat. Big Pun and Cuban Link) 101 Rise
"Western Ways Part II" (Delinquent Habits feat. Big Pun and JuJu) 102[20] Here Come the Horns
"I'll Be Around" (Rah Sun feat. Big Pun and Deuce) 125[21] 89[22] 30[23] It's Not a Game
1999 "Bet Ya Man Can't (Triz)" (Fat Joe feat. Big Pun and Cuban Link) 54 37 Don Cartagena
"From N.Y. to N.O." (Mr. Serv-On feat. Big Pun) 20 11 3 Da Next Level
"On Point" (Heavy D featuring 8Ball & Big Pun) Heavy
2000 "Symphony 2000" (Truck feat. Big Pun, Kool G Rap, and KRS-One) 35[24] Non-album single
"Feelin' So Good" (Jennifer Lopez feat. Fat Joe and Big Pun) 51 44 On the 6

Music videos

Year Title Director
1998 "Twinz (Deep Cover '98)" Chris Robinson[25]
"Still Not a Player" Darren Grant[26]
2000 "It's So Hard" Chris Robinson[25]
"100%" Chris Robinson[25]
2001 "How We Roll"



  1. ^ The Source. 2010-11-05. Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  2. ^ Top 50 MCs of Our Time: 1987 - 2007 - 50 Greatest Emcees of Our Time. (1999-02-15). Retrieved on 2013-07-26.
  3. ^ Mike, Trader. (2003-07-22) 22 Greatest MCs. Blogcritics. Retrieved on 2013-07-26.
  4. ^ Valdes, Mimi (August 1998). "Pound for Pound". Vibe 6 (8): 108–111. 
  5. ^ a b Huey, Steve (2002). "Big Punisher > Biography". allmusic. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  6. ^ "Big Pun Lawsuit". Dead Poetz Bio. Dead Poetz. Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  7. ^ Big Pun: The Legacy documentary (Part 2/7) on YouTube
  8. ^ a b c "Interview With Knobody".  
  9. ^ a b c "Gold & Platinum - Big Pun". RIAA. Retrieved 2010-08-15. 
  10. ^ Pareles, Jon (2000-02-09). "Christopher Rios, 28, Rapper Recorded Under Name Big Punisher". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  11. ^ Harling, Danielle (2013-06-05). "Chris Rivers". Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  12. ^ Juon, Steve (2005-12-20). "Notorious B.I.G: Duets: The Final Chapter". Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  13. ^ Cardwell, Diane (2001-05-02). "Bronx: No Street For Big Pun". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  14. ^ "Exclusive Hip Hop News, Audio, Lyrics, Videos, Honeys, Wear, Sneakers, Download Mixtapes". Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  15. ^ Producer Delays Release Of New Big Pun Album | Daily Hip-Hop News | /
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ "Big Punisher > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  18. ^ "Search Certification Database". CRIA. Retrieved 2009-07-15.  Keyword under artist name: "Big Punisher"
  19. ^ "Big Punisher > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  20. ^ "Western Ways Part II". Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles. Billboard. 1998-09-26. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  21. ^ "I'll Be Around". Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles. Billboard. 1998-09-26. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  22. ^ "I'll Be Around". Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Billboard. 1998-10-03. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  23. ^ "I'll Be Around". Hot Rap Singles. Billboard. 1998-11-07. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  24. ^ "Symphony 2000". Hot Rap Singles. Billboard. 1999-10-30. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  25. ^ a b c "Chris Robinson". Retrieved May 17, 2010. 
  26. ^ Grant, Darren (director); Big Pun (performer);  

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