Lamont Coleman (May 30, 1974 – February 15, 1999), also known by his stage name Big L, was an American rapper who made significant contributions to the New York City music scene in the 1990s as a member of the hip hop collective D.I.T.C. He was shot and killed in February 1999 before releasing his second album. Members of the underground hip hop community regard him as one of the most skilled MC's of all time.
Lamont Coleman was born May 30, 1974 in New York City, and grew up in uptown Harlem which he references regularly in his lyrics (139th Street & Lennox Avenue). Big L began rhyming in 1990 and his first professional appearance came on the B-side of "Party Over Here" by Lord Finesse in 1992, the song was the remix to "Yes, You May". Around this time, L founded the Harlem-based rap group Children of the Corn with fellow aspiring MC's Killa Cam, Murda Mase and Killa Cam's cousin Bloodshed while Darrell "Digga" Branch provided production. Unfortunately the group folded in 1996 when Bloodshed died in a car accident. In 1993 L was signed to Columbia Records and released his first single "Devil's Son". Big L's debut solo album, Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous, was released in March 1995. The album featured guest appearances from a number of artists, notably Kid Capri, Lord Finesse, and then-unknown Cam'ron and Jay-Z. Two singles, "M.V.P" and "Put It On", were released from the album, both of which reached the top twenty-five of Billboard's Hot Rap Tracks. The album itself also reached the Billboard 200, but due to its poor commercial status Big L was dropped from Columbia Records.
From 1997 to '99, Big L worked on his second album The Big Picture through his own Flamboyant Entertainment label. He released the acclaimed single "Ebonics" in 1998; that same year, he joined Bronx-based hip hop collective Diggin' in the Crates Crew and appeared on their first single "Dignified Soldiers". The Big Picture was released posthumously in August 2000 and featured guest appearances by Fat Joe, Guru of Gang Starr, Kool G Rap, and Big Daddy Kane among others. Jay-Z has said that Big L was set to sign with his Roc-A-Fella label, but was murdered the week before. The Big Picture was Big L's last recorded album. It was put together by his manager and partner in Flamboyant Entertainment, Rich King. It contains songs that L had recorded and a cappella recordings that were never used, completed by producers and guest MC's that Big L respected or had worked with previously. The album was certified gold a month later.
Coleman was killed in the neighborhood of Harlem on February 15, 1999 after being shot over 9 times in the face and chest. Virgilio Perez, one of Big L's childhood friends, was arrested in May 1999 for the crime. At the time of his death, Coleman had two brothers in prison. "It's a good possibility it was retaliation for something [Big L's] brother did, or [Perez] believed he had done," said a spokesperson for the NYPD. Perez was later released and the murder case remains unsolved.
Big L's half-brother Leroy Phinazee aka "Big Lee" was murdered in the same neighborhood in 2002; in the time leading up to his death, Phinazee had apparently been in search of information regarding Big L's murder.
Gang Starr released the song "Full Clip" as a tribute to Big L on their 1999 compilation album Full Clip: A Decade of Gang Starr, and more recently on a SiriusXM satellite radio show. Via Wikipedia