Ron G & Ron Browz - Big L Video Tribute
(Ron G - Legends of the Game 2005 Promotional DVD)
Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito – October 28th, 1993: Aged to Perfection Show ('93 Freestyle)
Redman – A Day of Sooperman Luva
Eric Sermon – Da Hype
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – One in a Million
Black Thought – What the Fuck You Rhyming For? (Stretch Armstrong Mix)
K-Solo – On Da Mic
Akinyele – Check It Out
NaS & Grand Wizard – Interview & Freestyle
NaS – Halftime
NaS – It Ain’t Hard to Tell
Black Moon – How Many MCs Must Get Dissed (Stretch Armstrong Mix)
Queen Latifah – Run Away
Nice & Smooth – How Many Times
Main Source – Friendly Game of Baseball
Big Daddy Kane – Raw
EPMD – My Thing
Q-Tip – Shield
Souls of Mischief – Take the Time
Big L & Herb McGruff – Interview & Freestyle
Big L – No Endz, No Skinz
Black Moon – Act Like U Want It (Stretch Armstrong Mix)
Ultramagnetic MCs – Raise It Up
Redman – Tonight’s Da Night (Stretch Armstrong Mix)
Das EFX – Freak It (Stretch Armstrong Mix)
A Tribe Called Quest – Award Tour
Nice & Smooth – U Got It
Grim Reaper & B1 – Interview & Freestyle
Souls of Mischief – ’93 ‘til Infinity
Eric B & Rakim – Keep the Mic Hot
Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls) – Party & Bullshit (Stretch Armstrong Mix)
Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito – 1994 Show ('94 Freestyle)
(Kurious) Uptown Shit
(Black Moon) I Gotcha Opin
(YZ) Ghetto’s Been Good to Me
’94 8 Iz Enuff Freestyle ft. Killa Kam, Murda Mase, Bloodshed, Herb McGruff, Buddah Bless, Terra & Big Twan
(Wu-Tang Clan) C.R.E.A.M.
(Tha Dogg Pound) Niggaz Don’t Give a Fuck
(Jeru the Damaja) Come Clean
(Lord Digga) ’94 Freestyle
(The Notorious B.I.G.) Somebody Gotta Die
(Serge) Both Sides (Demo)
(Erick Sermon) Run This Muthafucka? ft. Hurricane G
(Kurious) Baby Bust It ft. Lord Sear
(Shyheim) On & On Remix
(Lord Digga) Bust a Nut (Demo)
(The Jerky Boys) Ahmed the Taxi Driver Phone Call & Freestyle
(A Tribe Called Quest) God Lives Through
(KRS-One) Hip Hop vs. Rap
Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito – Summer of ’98: Big Meal, Dirty Rat & Big L Show (’98 Freestyle)
Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito – February ’99: Big L Tribute Show
Huddy Combs (Huddy Six), NaS & Big L on 125th:
Funkmaster Flex & NaS '06 Hot 97 Interview
The Source Magazine March ’95
The Source Magazine April ’95
BigLOnline Mini-Interviews with Donald “Don Ice” Phinazee & Tommy “Jewlz the Director” Gin
Don & Tommy:
(Asterisked questions by The Big Sleep. All other questions by various BigLOnline forum members.)
Will you please scan L's rhymebooks?*
“I can't scan Big L rhymebooks, because when I finish this book I'm writing right now, they will be in there.” ~ Donald “Don Ice” Phinazee
What kinds of brotherly things did you and L do when you were younger? Did L come to you for advice?
“Big L and I did things together as far as parties. But most of the time we stayed on the block jokin’ on each other (we call it snappin’) all the way ‘til daylight. About giving him advice, yeah he came to me and my brother Big Lee all the time for advice. We are his big brothers!” ~ Donald “Don Ice” Phinazee
How do you feel about Ma$e? Him claiming to have written some of L's lyrics, even saying L stole some of his lines?
“Ma$e is a bitch and a liar! He could never be on the same level as my little brother. That's why he used to come around the block and dickride Big L! (And the block I'm talking about is 139th & Lenox.) And dickride means wanting to be around us all the time! Because we was the streets and we were serious about them streets! How do I feel about Ma$e? Fuck Ma$e! And when I do see him, I am going to slap the shit out of him, like the bitch he is! Believe that!” ~ Donald “Don Ice” Phinazee
How did you get the nickname Don Ice?*
“Big L used to call me Don Ice because when we was younger I didn’t give a fuck about what I did, didn’t give a fuck about people or myself, I was cold as ice!” ~ Donald “Don Ice” Phinazee
How do you feel when you hear somebody say Big L is the greatest of all time?
“I feel so proud of him because he always put his all in everything he did and he always loved rap ever since he was like seven years old, I feel proud! I like when people tell me that he is the best to ever do it!” ~ Donald “Don Ice” Phinazee
Is there anything you can tell us about Big L's first group Three the Hard Way? Like, who was in the group? Did they record any songs?
“This question I actually don’t know about, because I was in jail for two years at that time. But go ask Jewlz about that, he definitely knows about this.” ~ Donald “Don Ice” Phinazee
“As far as the group L was in, Three the Hard Way, it had one dude named Doc Reem (who was in the trailer wearing a white t-shirt, he also had cameos in a couple of L’s videos). Then there was another guy Rodney and also Big L. The group was really a local group, that was really just getting into the music thing as young guys in the neighborhood, trying to find their way. But no they never made any studio songs. I think they had some taped stuff that circulated through the hood, but that's about it. After a while Rodney left the group and it was just Doc and L, so they changed the name to Two Hard Motherfuckers. And eventually L went solo and got really serious about the music and wanted to be heard on a bigger scale and most of y’all know a lot of the story from there.” ~ Tommy “Jewlz the Director” Gin
Considering L was real young, did he ever talk about wanting to have a family of his own or did that not cross his mind? Did he like children?
“Big L never wanted kids because he had ten nieces and two nephews. He always said to them ‘ya’ll get on my nerves’ all the time, ‘that’s why I don’t want kids’. He always said it joking, but really meant it.” ~ Donald “Don Ice” Phinazee
Did you ever witness Big L battle? If yes, how was he? Could you tell a story or something about him battling?
“One time we were in the park, I was doing what I do, working out on the bar. My other brother came into the park. When he seen me, we got to talking and then he started on his bar (doing pull-ups that’s what the bar means). Okay so now it’s us two on the bar, Big L comes into the park when he sees me and Big Lee working out. Mase pulls up not long after that and brings like four niggas into the park behind him. Now back then we didn’t let anybody come in the park (The Danger Zone). So I’m looking at this fool like "Yo, what’s up?", Mase looks at me and says “Yo, what’s up Don.” so I go “Yo, who are these dudes you got with you?” He said “These niggas are with me.” So I look at them and Lee and I go back to the bar. Now Lee, Mase and I and these four dudes are in the park with us, Herb McGruff and Took Da Boss come in too. Gruff starts rollin’ up a blunt and they start smoking: him, Mase, Took Da Boss and the four dudes, I didn’t smoke, so now Big L start joking on these dudes, then they start rhyming. Big L took out Mase and the four dudes that was with him, so Mase got a little mad and started dissin’ the four dudes he was with and I started dissin’ Mase. Short after that, I just ran him out the park! That nigga is a homo for real yo!” ~ Donald “Don Ice” Phinazee
What was your first reaction when you heard Big L’s track, Devil’s Son?
“The devil’s son! Hell yeah, I said ‘This that shit son!’. Yo, now mind you I actually just heard it this year. Yes, this year (2009)! And when I heard it, I just had to name this new album that. The Return of the Devil’s Son! It’s a lot of personal stuff behind that too, so I’m just going to leave it at that.” ~ Donald “Don Ice” Phinazee
What was a day in the life of Big L like? Did he chill a lot or was he always out doing things?
”A day with Big L for me was chillin’ in the block or he would be gettin’ his money on.” ~ Donald “Don Ice” Phinazee
If L were still around today, what do you think he would be doing?
”Hard question to ask, because you can never really know, but if L was still here, he would be where Jay-Z is at right now or even bigger...I can put my life on that one! Oh and producing, he was trying to go that route as well.” ~ Donald “Don Ice” Phinazee
How many unreleased Big L songs are left in the vault?
”Enough to make three more albums!” ~ Donald “Don Ice” Phinazee
”Love for my little brother, love always from his real big brother, Big Don. L did a lot of songs in other studios and they will get in trouble for releasing them without permission.” ~ Donald “Don Ice” Phinazee
”The doc is something that’s been cooking for a good minute. We gettin’ it together, it’s coming along real proper. It’s being put together by me and L’s brother Don. It’ll be a doc highlighting L’s life in the truest and best way possible. We plan to involve all the artists and friends of L’s who were instrumental in his career developing. We will start collecting as much archival footage as we can and also conducting interviews as well. We’d like to work with all the sites that memorialize L in order to get the word out to the public as well as us doing other forms promotion. Thanks for the love on keepin’ my homie’s words alive, his family definitely appreciates the support. Please keep an eye out for the upcoming documentary celebrating the life of Big L. The tentative title is gonna be Street Struck: The Big L Story. For now that’s all we plan on speaking on in regards to this project but as more things develop we definitely plan to pass on the info to those who are truly interested. Thanks for all the support BigLOnline. On behalf of 2056 Media, Big Don Phinazee, Flamboyant Entertainment, Dangerzone Music, peace y’all.” ~ Tommy “Jewlz the Director” Gin
BigLOnline & Big L Rarities Mini-Interviews
(Conducted by BigLOnline, compiled by The Big Sleep.)
”I had that joint One for the Lyricist released on Blindside Recordings, London indie, that was classic. Check it, it’s fire. Old fire but still fire. Three tracks on the joint. What up y’all it’s yo’ boy the Hellgate Rebel Big Twan, holla at me, I’m on here and I still owe you guys an interview. It’s somethings that have to get straight on here ‘cause it’s a lot of mis-truths on here and they need to be cleaned up. I miss you L, we had the illest crew out hands down and yeah, eight is still enough, one love! Man, we went in on that. It wasn’t just a song, it was a movement. If we only knew…I just want to let y’all know I’m here wit’ y’all, feel free to holla at me.” ~ Big Twan
”Thanks for your love, yes this is a book I’ve been working on for four years, I have just finished it and I would love to have your help on this new project I’m working, again, thanks.” ~ Charles E. Davis (Big L’s father.)
”Yeah we did (record the Wake Up Show freestyle together), we came to L.A. for the first time around the same time, he was a great cat and an incredible MC. Yeah man…L was the illest.” ~ Chino XL
”Harlem's finest…what more can I say? Dude was a beast. One of the best to ever hit you with the witty comical punch lines. Lines that you would repeat to your boys, trying to act like they were your own. (Laughs.) Rest in peace L.” ~ DJ Lennox
”Big L, my dude. Yo L was one of them dudes when you hear him spit, you cringe. I mean, you be like damn, did you hear what he said? Lyrics that make you wish you had thought of it first. So clever and not afraid at all to say what he thought was the shit. His skill was elevated to a level that most cats might take a while to get to or will never get to the point he was. I had the pleasure of meeting and doing a show with him once. At a church in Harlem. Real quiet humble dude. Until he got on that mic. A beast and it’s a shame we couldn’t enjoy the fruits of his labor. I write this as the biggest fan of a dude cut short by time that wasn’t his. Damn my dude right now you would still crush niggas, big niggas too.” ~ El Da Sensei
”No, that (battle with Big L) never happened. Jay-Z, yes. No actual battle though. Just a clash of swords back in the eighties. ODB was present also.” ~ GZA / Genius
“Thank you for still remembering my son.” ~ Gilda ”Pinky” Terry (Big L's mother, now deceased.)
”L was my man, that’s how I got on it (Da Graveyard).” ~ Grand Daddy I.U.
”Damn, it’s been ten years. He was a gemini like me so we clicked, we used to hang on his block, 135 and go to The Tunnel and other clubs just gettin' to know each other. Which would have led to makin' records together but I went to the pen and he got killed so we never got to work together. A good friendship in the makin' snuffed out by jail and death; the way most black male's relationships get destroyed. Big L was and still is one the most creative artists to touch the mic and he was my personal friend. I remember hanging with him in Harlem all the time. I'm still fucked up over his death and to top it off, we didn't get a chance to rock together. I know it's hard for him to do so, but rest in peace Big L; you're gone but not forgotten.” ~ Keith Murray
”I was his first niece. Rest in peace, uncle ‘mont, your dream still lives on. I love you and you are truly missed by me and the rest of the Phinazee family. There could never be another Big L. My uncle ‘mont is gonna always be the one and only. No nigga could ever have a flow as good as the great Big L. I don’t know much about the new album because my grandmother (Gilda ‘Pinky’ Terry) was the one that told me about it and she don’t get down with the rap game like that, she’s too old for that shit. She just knows the simple facts (laughing). I’ll holla if I hear anything.” ~ Lenaisa Phinazee (Big L’s oldest niece.)
”The only thing I have here is a video tape of three of the shows we all did on the road back then and you know I'm not going to just pass that along...We were on the road for almost a month, and a half.” ~ O.Gee
”Big L was clearly one of illest MCs from the N.Y.C., hands down! May you never be forgotten L, rest in peace.” ~ Phat Kat
”I was in a group then and the group's name was and is Truth or Sq. from Trenton, New Jersey. Yo, it was a show at Victoria 5 in Harlem on 125th St., a few doors down from The Apollo. Video Music Box's Crazy Sam, in collaboration with Russell Simmons put it together. Kid Capri was with L that night, Group Home performed, A.Plus got a deal that night. We didn't win, 'cause we was from Jersey. Frankie Cutlass, DJ Premier, Fat Joe, just to name a few, were all judges that we had, wildin' for the kids, you know? Group Home showed us mad love, as well as Big L, 'nough respect to the iconic legend that son is, one hundred.” ~ Scatta
”Holdin' it down for my dude, the Harlemite Big L. Y’all know what it is!” ~ Stan Spit
”Yo, I wanna play that Now or Never shit on Sirius…” ~ Statik Selektah
”I’m a huge fan of his.” ~ Stricklin (of eMC)
D.I.T.C. Interviews & Tributes
The Diggin’ in the Crates Crew (Andre the Giant, Diamond D, Lord Finesse, Big L, Showbiz, O.C. & Fat Joe):
DJ Premier '08 Tribute Hour I
DJ Premier '08 Tribute Hour II
Lord Finesse Interview
Lord Finesse '04 WKCR Tribute
Lord Finesse Underground Railroad Interview
O.C. '96 Mixmaster Show Radio Interview
DJ Cosmo Baker & DJ Max Glazer
'95 On the Go Magazine Cover:
L was one of my favorite MCs of all time, ever since the first time I heard that dude on the Yes You May Remix..."chicks stick to my dick like magnets on refrigerators", (laughs), so ill! ~ DJ Cosmo Baker
Thanks for getting in touch. I interviewed L a couple of times, but I wouldn't say that I really knew him. Really I am mostly a fan. I did interview the entire D.I.T.C. for an issue of On the Go [magazine] that never came out. It was supposed to be published in an issue of Wax Poetics [magazine], but I’m not sure what the status of that is. I’ll have to check in with those guys and see what their plans are for publishing the interview… ~ DJ Max Glazer
DJ Max Glazer ’99 Tribute Hosted by Tim Westwood
The King of Da Crates, DJ Mike Nice
DJ Iroc & DJ Mike Nice:
One of hip hop’s illest MCs. Big L’s demo tape contained the following four tracks: Rock N. Wills audition freestyle, Principal of the New School, Unexpected Flava, Devil’s Son. Unexpected Flava I had since ’97 on a DAT. I was lucky enough to have met L and spoke with him when he dropped his first album. I got my info from L himself, he had done an in-store with us at Upstairs Records when he dropped Lifestylez. L was a very cool and humble cat, I only met the cat that one time. Real chill and soft spoken, he seemed to enjoy signing autographs for his fans. All I can say, L was a quiet and humble cat, he transformed into a beast when a mic was put in front of him.
Our Big L did not produce The Lost Boyz track, discogs(.com) is wrong reverting back to our Big L. Big L the MC did not produce the track for Lost Boyz, the Big “L” was a big dude named Latrell, again, discogs is incorrect. What a lot of people don't know is that the beat they are rocking over in Deadly Combination was actually produced by Louie Vega (yes Little Louie Vega). It was on his break beat series Phat Kat Breaks. Real short vinyl press, maybe a thousand copies of each title were available.
A lot of the older unheard stuff was heard and played before on the underground radio shows here in N.Y., we had Stretch & Bob, Mayhem & Martin Moore, DJ Riz & Wildman Steve. Cats like L were on shows a lot with Lord Finesse. I don’t think there is much if anything else out there aside from some freestyles he did on the Underground Railroad and Riz & Wildman Steve, I’m cool with Riz so I’m a see what he has in the stash.
I’ll be returning to the mixtape game and I brought one of the game’s pioneers along, the one and only cat from Uptown, DJ Showtime. Myself and the legendary Showtime have something special in the works. Showtime and L lived in the same building and Showtime was in the store with Finesse when L did his audition. Showtime was also telling me about L battling cats at the pool hall on 125th. Videotape exists of Big L battling cats and we are trying to obtain it.
DJ Showtime (from the original Hardpack) and myself are doing a very special tribute so stay tuned. We’re about to tell a tale of history with Once Upon a Time in Harlem, a tribute to Big L and all the cats he associated with, such as: Kam, Mase, McGruff, N.O.T.S. Click, C.O.T.C., etc. I’m bringing out the heavy ammo on this one, lots of rare demos and unheard material, coming soon. If you’re a fan of Big L, Children of the Corn, Killa Kam, Mase Murder, McGruff, this mixtape gets no iller. Certified classic material. I’ve been bumping this since Showtime and myself laid it down and this has to be one of my most favorite mixtapes I’ve done. Showtime and myself will be in the lab, part two is being worked on.
Big Sleep, good looking out, as always. L, hip hop still mourns you. You’re dearly missed, especially by underground fans worldwide.
DJ Showtime Intro from the Once Upon a Time in Harlem Mixtape
The Faculty (Ei8trak & LY.F.E.) - Yes You May (Remix) '09
Fat Joe Speaks on The Enemy & Big L
(Audio provided by BigBilly, transcription by The Big Sleep.)
Digital Photograph of Big L & Fat Joe:
I was introduced to Big L through Lord Finesse; you know I’m a member of the Diggin’ in the Crates crew. That’s me, Lord Finesse, Showbiz, A.G., Diamond D, O.C. and of course Big L. One of the best records I ever recorded, one of my favorite moments in my life was recording The Enemy with Big L. I had just dropped Don Cartagena and it went gold and I’m in the studio with him and I never had, through all my years of rappin’ and you think of how many collaborations, how many artists I rocked wit’, I never had an artist threaten me. So Big L was like my little brother and he was funny so he sat next to me and he said, man, you just sold half a million records, I’m a take all your fans. Half a million fans when you get on a song with me, I’m gonna burn you b. So he starts threatenin’ me, so I had to write that rap on that record for like my dear life. Like I’ve never had anybody on the spot threaten me, you know we was in D&D Studios, very legendary studio out in New York, Primo did the beat and other than that, just Big L, you know what I’m sayin’, that was my little brother, he was a very funny guy man. A beautiful person, ya know? And I believe not just musically as an artist, I think he would’ve grown to be an entrepreneur and be a big giant in the game as far as a business man. His business savvy was incredible. You know what I’m sayin’? So you know, rest in peace, one three ninth ‘n Lenox, Big L.
Fat Joe Speaks on The Enemy & Big L (Exclusive Audio)
Fat Joe '08 Juan Epstein Interview
Digga July 2007 Interview for Big L Online
Big L and Digga in the studio:
(Interview by BigLOnline.)
Digga: Big L, the best from Harlem!
BigLOnline: What's up Digga, how are you doing?
Digga: Everything's good. I can't complain.
BigLOnline: You have an album coming up called The Cryptogram, when is this supposed to hit stores?
Digga: Yeah. It will be out soon. It's done but I'm working on getting the right distributor.
BigLOnline: Could you tell us something about that project? Who's on there, what made you decide to start the project?
Digga: Well, I wanted to just put some material out there because people are not too familiar with my work and me. This project basically started being an album of unreleased material I produced with artists like Cam’Ron, 50 Cent, Jay-Z, Lloyd Banks, Camp Lo, etc. But now with the current climate of the industry, I feel like consumers deserve more. The fans hear music from these artists all the time so older material might not be that relevant to the common fan. At the same time I feel like the fans should hear my work as a collection to show my versatility. That's how I came up with the title The Cryptogram. The artists on the album are pieces to a puzzle and when you put it together you will be able to see me and my music connecting everyone together.
BigLOnline: In the past you've been working with big names like Jay-Z, Jennifer Lopez, Ghostface Killah and 50 Cent, who are you working with right now, or who are you hoping to work with?
Digga: The easiest way to answer this question is by saying everybody. Because we are in the days of Pro Tools, artist can work on your stuff without you. But I am getting great feedback from different camps like Shady, Rocafella and Grand Hustle. Hopefully I will be able to do some stuff with Jadakiss, NaS and Ludacris this year. That's my goal.
BigLOnline: You were around thirteen when you started producing, how did you get into that?
Digga: My uncle who was in a rap group back in the days influenced me. He gave me a pair of turntables and a drum machine. It was a natural progression for me to start producing. I wanted to be a rapper but I needed beats. Once I got a four track recorder for Christmas, I started producing my own songs.
BigLOnline: If you had to pick one, which one of your productions is your favorite?
Digga: It’s a tie between a song named D.Rugs off of Cam's first album and Losing Weight featuring Cam'Ron and Prodigy.
BigLOnline: What's going on with Six Figga Entertainment right now? Are there any signed artists that we need to be aware of in the future?
Digga: Six Figga is a company I started more than ten years ago. My dream is to be able to have a label that concentrates on artist development. Right now I'm working with a group called Fab Nickel from New York and an artist named Thonio from Atlanta. Anyone that knows me will tell you how much I stress preparation. Anyone I'm involved with will have integrity and a real love for what they do.
BigLOnline: In the very early nineties you were in a group called Caged Fury with rappers Cam'Ron and Mase, what happened with that? Did you ever release any material?
Digga: Actually the members of Caged Fury were me, Cam and Bloodshed. No, I haven't released any of that material, but I do have it. As soon I can get the right label situation, I'll release it for the fans.
BigLOnline: Most Big L fans probably know you from the Children of the Corn days, could you tell us how Children of the Corn came together as a group?
Digga: Big L created the whole C.O.C. concept. Basically it was a collective of MCs that had a relationship with Big L. While Big L was working on his debut album, Cam, Mase, Bloodshed and others were doing performances, radio shows, etc. As the buzz and popularity grew, Mase and McGruff got record deals. Eventually me, Cam and Bloodshed got a deal on Freeze / Priority records using the name C.O.C., I think A Star is Born was (recorded) first, then we did Harlem U.S.A. and American Dream. All of the releases were singles on vinyl through Freeze / Priority. I’m pretty sure American Dream was the first single because Columbia and Bad Boy weren’t trying to clear L and Mase.
BigLOnline: Do you own the material by Children of the Corn?
BigLOnline: Are their any plans of a second Children of the Corn CD, if there is even enough material left?
Digga: No. That's it.
BigLOnline: When you were in the studio recording songs for Children of the Corn, how did it go down? Were all of you in the studio working on the tracks? What were those sessions like?
Digga: My man Ray Rock at Headquarters Studio recorded a lot of the songs. We were very serious because we had to pay by the hour for the studio (laughs). Most of the time I would make the track in the studio and Cam and Blood would come up with concepts. After that Mase or Big L would hear the joints and jump on it.
BigLOnline: What's your personal favorite C.O.C. track?
Digga: The Corn, the feeling of that song is incredible.
BigLOnline: Looking back at it now, do you think of Children of the Corn as a close family, or just a bunch of people uniting to break through eventually?
Digga: Well, I think back then we had a real love for it. We all wanted record deals to display our talent. Me, Cam and Blood were the closest because we worked together as a group. I don't think we were as close a Wu-Tang but I think we all knew what we had when we got together as a unit. But to answer the question straight, no we were not a close family.
BigLOnline: How is your relationship with Cam'Ron & Ma$e today?
Digga: I don't really have a relationship with either of them. I haven't seen Cam in three years and I haven't seen or spoke to Mase in seven.
BigLOnline: Now, there have been a lot of discussions about who the true members of Children of the Corn were. Were you considered a member or were you just paid for the beats (if paid at all) and was McGruff a real member?
Digga: There was not secret about me being a member. I was signed as a member to Freeze / Priority Records. A lot of people don't know that me, Cam'Ron and Bloodshed were professionally known as C.O.C. as a group. The song American Dream was released as our single through Freeze. Everyone that appeared on that song was considered to be a member of C.O.C., you can compare it to G-Unit. Everyone rolling with 50 Cent was considered to be a G-Unit member. But the members who were on the G-Unit album were 50, Lloyd, Buck and Yayo.
BigLOnline: A lot of those discussions have been sparked by the poor cover of the remastered version, that did not even have Bloodshed and McGruff on there…was that a bootleg?
Digga: No. That wasn't a bootleg. It was just decided that cover would look better without using bad photos. Also, the original cover wasn't visible enough. I know we did a photo-shoot for Children of the Corn. A professional shoot. The pics were mostly of me, Cam and Blood. A few with L and Gruff. I’m still looking; I think Cam stole them from me a few years ago. Those pics would be dope.
BigLOnline: Now you're from Harlem, did you and Big L grow up together? Or did you meet along the way, both making music?
Digga: No. We didn't grow up together as friends. He lived six blocks from me though. He was the first one around the neighborhood who was signed to a major label.
BigLOnline: Were you and L still around each other at the time of his death or did the relationship water down throughout the years?
Digga: We were about to start working on some stuff. I gave him some tracks before he got killed. Around that time I was working on Cam's album S.D.E. and L and me were actually just starting to develop a relationship outside of everyone else musically. Cam was running around doing him but I always wanted to continue doing the C.O.C. stuff. Everyone was out for themselves at that point though. I do feel like a lot people didn't reach back out to L after he got dropped from Columbia.
BigLOnline: How did you experience the breaking up of Children of the Corn? Did it happen suddenly, or did you see it coming? What do you think were the reasons?
Digga: I wouldn't call it a breakup because we were never together long enough. Once we got signed, everyone clicked up with the people they were closest to. We were all still cool with each other but we were trying to take advantage of our own opportunity.
BigLOnline: Do you have a story about Big L, you think the fans might enjoy?
Digga: No...nothing interesting.
BigLOnline: What's your favorite moment in your career?
Digga: I think the first time we heard American Dream on the Radio. We actually won five nights straight on a segment called Battle of the Beats on 98.7 in New York.
BigLOnline: What else is in store for you in the future, are you planning to do something besides making music?
Digga: I have a custom home building company called Branch Signature Homes. We build custom homes in the Atlanta area that range from four hundred thousand dollars to over one million. I created music for the love of it right now. I'm trying to get Six Figga to the level where we have a loyal fanbase that recognizes and appreciates the quality of music we deliver.
BigLOnline: I've heard that you were involved in making the Diplomats Movement, any truth to that?
Digga: Yes. I am a co-founder with Cam, not Jimmy. Anyone who knows the history on me will tell you that. Me and Cam formed the group in 1998. I created the logo and image you see today. When me and Cam had a disagreement around 2000, he decided to continue the movement with Rocafella Records.
BigLOnline: What do you think of the current state of hip hop?
Digga: Is that a serious question? Hip hop is in bad sharp from a music standpoint. From a finiancal stand point, it couldn't be better. Hip hop is based on opportunity right now. The business structure created by these artists and CEOs determine who gets signed. I remember when artists used to get mad at A&Rs at record labels because they weren't signing so called real artists. But now rappers are the ones signing their friends who clearly don't have the talent.
BigLOnline: Thanks for doing the interview, do you have any last words?
Digga: Thanks to everbody at BigLOnline.com. Rest in peace to Big L and Derek "Bloodshed" Armstead. Thanks to everyone for the support and look out for Fab Nickel and Thonio coming soon.
Herb McGruff March 2008 Interview for Big L Online
(Interview by Francesca Djerejian, questions by BigLOnline.)
BigLOnline: How have you been?
Herb McGruff: I’ve been chilling.
BigLOnline: When did you and L first become friends?
Herb McGruff: Well we came up on the same block so we grew up together, we were childhood buddies before the rap, before anything, I been knew L. That was my friend.
BigLOnline: Before he formed Children of the Corn, what were you guys getting into?
Herb McGruff: We used to rap in the park, but we really wasn’t taking it serious. We just was doing it to do it, because that was the thing to do back then I guess. It was me, L, Cam, Ma$e and Black Rob used to come through sometimes and we were rhyming in the park and stuff. But we ain’t never think that it was going to get like how it got. And me and L came up under Lovebug Starski, he used to be around the way and people like that, that influenced us. It was already around us, the music, but we just never took it serious until L got discovered by Lord Finesse. And ever since then, we started taking it serious, we started doing mixtapes, so on and so on. But me and L we childhood friends, before the rap, before everything.
BigLOnline: There are stories about how you guys were really grinding, recording in people’s bathrooms and selling mixtapes out the trunk, what were those days like?
Herb McGruff: Those were the grimy days, we was building the foundation. We saw pictures and we just went with it, we knew something could happen. L, he basically broke the doors down for Harlem. I know and respected Rob Base and Doug E. Fresh and all them, but L? He was that new generation. He broke the doors down and made it possible for a lot of us, such as myself. He was a true lyricist.
BigLOnline: Is he the one who convinced you to get in the game seriously?
Herb McGruff: Exactly. Like I was L’s hypeman when he was on tour, I wasn’t even really rapping back then. That was my man, he on, I just was going with the punches. Then I started writing and eventually being around certain people, it rubbed off. I said, “Shit, I can do it too!”. Me and L go way back, I remember when Biggie…we was doing the Jack the Rapper tour, this was before the Fugees got big, Biggie, everybody, MC Eiht from the west coast, it was all love. I think we was in San Diego, I was his hype, man he was doing shows, promotional tours.
BigLOnline: How tight was C.O.C. as a crew?
Herb McGruff: We was real tight, but me and L was the tightest 'cause we was from the same block.
BigLOnline: 139th and Lenox?
Herb McGruff: That’s right, the Danger Zone.
BigLOnline: You guys built up a real story behind that block, what was it like back in those days?
Herb McGruff: It wasn’t easy, it was rough. Every night gunshots, but that’s where we lived, that’s how we had to come up. So we wanted out of that. That’s why we started to rhyme, to do something positive. You get tired of living the same lifestyle. After L did it, we was grinding hard like you said in peoples houses’ studios, just grinding it out, seeing what we could make of it.
BigLOnline: What was the whole NFL crew?
Herb McGruff: That was like the block. That was like 139 & Lenox.
BigLOnline: Were you still involved in the streets when the C.O.C. thing was happening?
Herb McGruff: Oh yeah, I was and then I changed my life. Like I said I was going on promotional tours with L, seeing other places, learning that the life was bigger than the block. It was a big world out there, we could do something positive, give people from the block jobs that don’t got jobs. We just was trying to do something positive cause the environment that we come from, it’s really hard to come out of that. So you know at that time I was, but that was the past. You had to do what you had to do.
BigLOnline: Would you say that Big L was caught up in the streets at all?
Herb McGruff: You know it is what it is, this the environment we came up in. So you know, I wouldn’t say caught up. What else you gonna do? That’s all we knew, the block.
BigLOnline: What was he like as a friend?
Herb McGruff: L…comedian, competitor, sore loser (laughs). I remember one time I beat L…we used to play checkers and this card game called Casino. I think I beat L about four, five times in a row. He stopped speaking with me for a week (laughs). He hated to lose, he wanted to be the best in everything, but that was my boy though.
BigLOnline: Did you get the sense that he was about to blow?
Herb McGruff: I knew he was about to blow. It was no ifs ands buts or maybes, that Flamboyant, after that joint, Ebonics and all that, that was it was right there. Matter fact, me and him was supposed to do something with Rocafella but due to the fact that the tragedy happened, it didn’t ever go down.
BigLOnline: That was The Wolfpack, with you, L, C-Town and Jay-Z?
Herb McGruff: Yeah, we had a lot of big plans going on, but that tragedy happened. That put a monkey wrench in everything.
BigLOnline: Is it true that Dame was hesitating to sign the rest of you guys and Big L was trying to get the rest of the group signed?
Herb McGruff: Nah he wasn’t hesitating, Dame and L was always cool, me and Dame was always cool. He wanted to sign both of us, he said he thought it’d be in our best interest (to start as a group) and then eventually we could do whatever. ‘cause we was the two hardest names coming out of Harlem that’s reppin. So he was going to sign us, we were gonna do the group thing but that never occurred due to the fact, the tragedy.
BigLOnline: What was going on with C.O.C. after Cam and Ma$e went to play ball and Bloodshed died, was the unity falling apart?
Herb McGruff: I mean we always was cool we just grew up we was young in the game you gotta realize we were young, seventeen, eighteen we didn’t really know the game like that we were just excited to be a part of it. So as you get older the business part of the game come in you get older you start doing grown man stuff you gotta pay bills, all type of stuff so I guess people start thinking different but you know I still got love for all of them.
BigLOnline: So do you still talk to Cam?
Herb McGruff: Yeah I still talk to Cam. I could reach out to talk to Cam any time I want. It’s just when I call him, I want something to talk about, on a business proposition.
BigLOnline: Do you look back like those were the golden days?
Herb McGruff: Yeah it was, ‘cause it was fun. We was young, coming up, doing something that we all liked. They said rap wasn’t supposed to be here, rap was dying out. It was around that time and we just was coming with it, trying to get in where you fit in. But as I said, when you get older you start making different decisions. People tend to shy away, it don’t be that we don’t want to hang with each other no more. It’s just that you be so busy and he be so busy, it's hard to crash heads sometimes. But everybody doing what they got to do Ma$e doing what he gotta do, Cam doing what he gotta do and I wish everybody well.
BigLOnline: What do you think Big L would have thought of the Harlem rap scene today?
Herb McGruff: Rap today it ain't really no unity if we all was gonna get together and support each other like how the South doing it, they all stick together. Even though it might be some stuff going on behind scenes but they don’t let that be known. Everybody stick together. You doing a video? Everybody come support them and vice versa that’s how they winning right now, to tell the truth the South is killing it. Nothing coming out of New York. Right now, New York is on life support for real. 50 probably…nobody selling no records, the game is crazy. Everybody downloading, it’s crazy so the game is under siege right now, the game on life support.
BigLOnline: Do you think not enough people know about C.O.C. and what you guys did for Harlem?
Herb McGruff: Everybody know who C.O.C. is, the real hip hop fans know what time it is. I guess some of the young kids that are coming out now, they on the Superman and all that, they don’t really know what’s going on. But people from that era, they know who C.O.C. is, they know Gruff, Ma$e, Cam, Big L. I’m just proud to be a part of that.
BigLOnline: What was L like in the booth?
Herb McGruff: L was a beast in the booth, he would memorize…Like he showed me a way, it’s called compounding, when two words come together he showed me that stuff. ‘cause Kane, Rakim and them (had developed the technique)… I’m like, “What you talking about, compounding?”. He was like “Yo, two words go together and you keep catching two words that go with each other that make sense,” he had a method to how he would write all his stuff and he mastered that joint. L was a lyricist for real, for real. I still say he the best to come out of Harlem, for real. L was nasty in that booth, punchlines, all that, he had the whole package. I miss the hell out of him too, L was a comedian, all he wanted to do was snap all day yo.
BigLOnline: You could hear in the records that he was a comedian…
Herb McGruff: Yeah L was a comedian. He knew all the black man, white man, Chinese jokes. He used to have us crying, L was funny. All day all he wanted to do all day was joke. Joke and laugh all day, that was my boy man, word up.
BigLOnline: Did he have that superstar quality about him, when he was on the verge?
Herb McGruff: L been into the music from back in the day with Starski. L was been into the music scene, L used to be trying to DJ back in the day too. I miss L, yo. L was a straight up comedian for real. Right now he would be trying to snap, b, tryin' a find something to snap about, I miss him.
BigLOnline: You heard that his mother just died…?
Herb McGruff: Yeah you took the words out my mouth, they buried her on the sixteenth and it’s crazy ‘cause the tragedy happened on the fifteenth and his mother got laid to rest on the sixteenth. It just is crazy, I don’t know, I guess they together now in a better place. I remember when L’s mother Pinky, her real name is Gilda but everybody called her Pinky, she used to take us on bus rides back in the day to Great Adventure, Action Park. I got a lot of memories b, word up.
BigLOnline: I remember that skit you have where you’re talking local spots in Harlem…
Herb McGruff: 'cause some of the people that own the joints acting funn, and we feel like “Yo we from Harlem, so how you gonna act funny with us?”. It ain’t like we from Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens. We go to Brooklyn, Queens and get more love than some of the places in Harlem.
BigLOnline: You guys must of gotten mad love in Harlem though…
Herb McGruff: We got mad love in Harlem, word up. But certain little spots that every now and then, they used to be feeling theyself you know? But it’s all love.
BigLOnline: What are you involved in now?
Herb McGruff: I’m still trying to do some music. I just put out a mixtape recently with his guy named Hunc, getting my ears wet (with my group) LCN. I got some DVD footage, they just did a (Big L) tribute at Limelight a couple years ago with Lord Finesse, I got footage from all that, we gonna put that on there. But basically I got some artists right now and I’m trying to work them, ‘cause I ain’t trying to rap my whole life. I’m gonna see how the CEO side of it works out, I’m a put something else out just to see people’s reaction.
BigLOnline: Is there anything more you want to say about L?
Herb McGruff:: I love him and I wish he was still here, and I know one day I’ll see him in heaven. My blessings go out to his whole family, it’s been a lot. He just got one brother that’s living now, that’s crazy. My condolences go out to the whole family, his aunts, uncles, everybody. So I’m a part of his family you know? I know one day I see him again, but that’s my boy for life.
The L.G. Experience, Patrick Harvey, Easy Mo Bee's Younger Brother
The cover of Big L's vinyl single, Put It On:
What up. I have no problem talking about a legend like Big L.
I met Big L through Scoob Lover, Big Daddy Kane's dancer. Scoob had L come meet me at Soundtrack Studios in '93 where I used to record at. He was looking for beats. He picked some beats but we never recorded anything.
About a year and change later Faith Newman, Columbia A&R, wanted a remix from me for Put It On. I did the remix at the original Chung King Studios. Nobody knew it was my brother Easy Mo Bee doing the scratches on the record.
I hooked up with L again in '96. My cousin was seeing a chick who lived in L's building on 139th. We talked about doing some shit but it just never happened. I was outta town when I heard he got killed. The game could use that dude right now.
Anyway, as far as your question about my name L.G., that's the name of the housing projects I grew up in. Lafayette Gardens in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn.
If it's anything else I can help you with, just holla at me. Anything associated with some real hip hop, I'm fuckin' wit' it. I'm still doing my grizzly on them beats so if you know somebody looking for hip hop, holla.
Marquee February & September 2009 Interviews for Big L Online & Exclusive Tour Pictures from the '95 Japan Tour: Street Flava
(Interview by The Big Sleep, photographs provided by Marquee.)
Hello, thank you for contacting me and I'm sorry due to the circumstances.
Big L and I were both protégés of Lord Finesse and some of my first recordings were done under his supervision.
It was Finesse's idea to put us on the Alone Remix because it was a project that he was contracted to do and it was done while L was alive and recorded in N.Y.C.; Stephen Simmonds' record was released in Sweden initially and I did get to meet him.
Big L was part of our family; we all performed in Japan with Organized Konfusion, Showbiz & A.G. and Diamond, as well as Finesse.
You may contact me if you have any further questions. Thank you.
I was Finesse's girlfriend for like nine years. I'm married now, I have a husband. But everybody is still cool because we're family.
So I didn't go hang out with L or anything 'cause like, that's my boyfriend's friend. But he would come over and be hangin' out and just chillin' all day. When he wasn't crackin' jokes he was rhymin' all the time. He was really funny, that's what I remember most.
He was just getting better and better before he died, bless the dead, he was like, at his peak.
I didn't even rhyme much then, I was still learning. So I would just listen, I was intimidated.
There was a lot of people getting put on back with the NFL crew. It was a lot of hard work but some of that pissed me off. Yeah they're good now, but they weren't back then. Well, McGruff's always been good. When you're signed to a major label you gotta do what they say, you can't just put your friends on.
We were in Japan for like two weeks, Organized Konfusion, Showbiz & A.G., I think Diamond was there. L did Ebonics and that one China without rice (laughs). I know he did Ebonics because people were gathered around for that. There'd be people who didn't speak English but they knew the words and were singing along to the song.
There used to be a lot of girls. They'd ask "do you know where Big L is?" and I had to lie. I had to be like sorry, can't help ya with that one.
I didn't think Alone would be the only song I'd get to do with him. It didn't hit me 'til years later, like damn…I don't know if Big L got to meet Stephen [Simmonds]. He came to New York and I met him which was cool but I don't know what L and Finesse were doin'. Big Zil and Liz Lucci are the same person and I did a song with her also.
It's just my memory of my friend, ya know? I used to braid his hair if there was no one else around to do it. We were gamblin' on the plane to Japan and there's not much to do and not many people that speak your own language so you hang out a lot and he was makin' fun of the women 'cause there was only like four of us and I was like fine, I'm not gonna braid your hair then.
He talked about his brother who got killed who was still locked up when I knew him. Lee. I didn't know he had another brother. I met his mom though 'cause Finesse was close to her and made sure she got everything she needed after everything happened.
I think it's really cool that you're doing this.
Marquee in Japan:
"If The Big Sleep can set up a time, I can queue the photos. I just want the right stories to go with the pictures. Accurate information is all I'm concerned with and I'm sure Finesse is as well. There are other people in these pictures. I scanned them and I have some that he's in alone and some of the staff and artists that were on the tour with us. The other pictures are in the same venues so that you can really connect the dots. All the ones I'm not in, I took. The other ones I probably just handed the camera to somebody. Here are the photos and I will explain them so you know the details." ~ Marquee
Bandoola Records Tour Pass:
"That was my tour pass. Bandoola Records sponsored the tour. If the pass says '95 then that's when it was." ~ Marquee
One of the Tour Guides, an Assistant & Marquee:
"Kazuki was one of our tour guides (and Yugi, who isn't in any of the pictures). The other woman was someone's assistant; this was a long time ago. We went to Osaka, Tokyo and I can't remember any of the other names. We took the bullet train." ~ Marquee
Lord Finesse, Marquee and Roc Raida Onstage in Japan:
"I don't know if I told you but I was Finesse's girlfriend for like nine years." ~ Marquee
Marquee, Roc Raida & Lord Finesse Onstage:
“I did a couple songs on The Awakening album. I did a song with him and Diamond and A.G., Speak Ya Peace and I did Gameplan and Underworld Operations.” ~ Marquee
Marquee, Lord Finesse & Roc Raida Onstage:
“We did different songs different nights but if it was us onstage it was probably songs we did just the two of us.” ~ Marquee
Roc Raida Doing His Set:
“…do you have any more stories or anything else to say or add now that Roc Raida has died?” ~ The Big Sleep
“What do you mean Roc Raida died? I didn't know that, oh my god! What's going on? I'm floored. No one told me, damn.” ~ Marquee
Roc Raida Doing Body Tricks:
“Roc Raida did his set in the middle of the show and had his eyes closed. He was pointing because the record was startin’ when he wanted it.”
Showbiz, Lord Finesse & Andre the Giant on the Plane Ride Home:
"That's from when they was gamblin'." ~ Marquee
"On the plane, we was gamblin', well, they was gamblin'. Gamblin' they show money. At one point L lost all his money. He got it all back eventually. But he went back to his manager; I forget the chick's name. But she wouldn't give him anything; she wouldn't let him spend it. So he started snappin' on her, had everybody crackin' up." ~ Marquee
Organized Konfusion (Prince Po & Pharaohe Monch) Onstage:
"Everybody went out to see Organized, Fudge Pudge and all that." ~ Marquee
Pharaohe Monch, Big L & Lord Finesse:
"That's Monch. Pharaohe Monch, Organized." ~ Marquee
"Japan, what's that, yen? Yeah, that's them countin' yen." ~ Marquee
Big L & Lord Finesse:
"We used to always see each other in different places. I used to live in Brooklyn and he used to come over every week and he used to rhyme for hours. If he wasn't rhymin' he was crackin' jokes, it was one or the other. I'd just sit there, watching. He'd be tellin' me about battles, 'cause like in Harlem, people would just walk right up to you, sharpenin' skills. And he never lost." ~ Marquee
Big L Performing in Japan:
"The crowd knew all of L's songs but they didn't speak English. They knew all the words but you go to talk to them and they're like 'I don't know English'. I mean, they didn't say that but you could figure that out. It was like it was transcendent, ya know? Then at the hotel, the girls, the Japanese girls would ask what room he was in. And I couldn't tell 'em that because he might've already had two girls back there, it was like that sometimes. I mean, I wasn't gonna tell 'em anyway, you know…" ~ Marquee
"…I parked the ride so my nigga Iroc could crash the lye spot and I'm a gamble 'til he come back, why not?..." ~ Big L on Casualties of a Dice Game:
"Raida DJed, we had like three DJs there. Finesse was DJing during the sets. L's DJ was there. I forgot his name." ~ Marquee
"Iroc?" ~ The Big Sleep
"Yeah, Iroc." ~ Marquee
DJ Iroc & Big L Onstage:
"I don't know how I got that shot, he was in the middle of rhymin' and he was really gettin' into it. He was doin' Ebonics, it took him a long time to come up with that song. Finesse would know more about the logistics of the tour dates and Ebonics, because L had stuff written and in his head before a lot of people heard it. I can't pinpoint all of that, but 'ness would know." ~ Marquee
"…sometimes my hair cornrow-ed, sometimes it's 'fro-y…" ~ Big L on Now or Never:
"I braided everybody's hair while we were away. We got into a debate about men and women, L was just crackin' mad jokes and he got under my skin, got me mad, so I was like, fine, I'm not braidin' your hair. Actually he got one of the other girls to do it for him but it wasn't just L pullin' a Buckwheat, it was because I wouldn't braid his hair for him." ~ Marquee
Mic Geronimo July 2008 Interview for Big L Online
(Interview by Soobax, questions and transcription by The Big Sleep.)
BigLOnline: Okay Mic, let’s jump right in. Way back when, you started out DJing before you began MCing. Can you tell us what got you into the rap world in the first place?
Mic Geronimo: Hip hop was always a part of my life. I grew up with Large Professor out in Flushing. Matter of fact, he is like an older brother and was one of the first people I knew in life when I was old enough to go out and hang in the playground. We all did graffiti and breakdancing, so it was always there. I was just telling my wife about how the first time I heard Eric B. & Rakim's Eric B for President, it changed my life. I think I was like eleven or twelve years old.
BigLOnline: You were discovered by Irv Gotti, of Murder Inc., from a high school talent show. What were you doing at the time that caught his eye and made him single you out?
Mic Geronimo: That is not entirely true. I went to Bayside High School and had a friend by the name of Chuckie Madness. He was a mutual friend of Irv and I. He told Irv about me and that I could spit. I met Irv once, but did not really feel him. The second time I met him, was at a talent show on Liverpool Ave. in Southside. I was the only MC people did not throw bottles at that night. I got off stage and came up on Irv and Chuck. I started buggin’ on Irv by freestyling. He asked me if I ever been in a studio, I told him nah. He told me he had a studio and wanted me to come through. I told him nah and he said, "I'll come and get you". The rest is history.
BigLOnline: You’ve said that your mindset for your first album, The Natural was more laid back and that you were just about making music when you were younger because you didn’t know as much about the industry. Did you have a feeling early on what kind of sound you were creating? Or was it more of a spontaneous process that simply happened?
Mic Geronimo: I'd say it was an untainted process with making The Natural. It was music being made in the spirit of being able to just make music. It wasn't done with the intent of capturing a certain crowd or vibe. It was just beats, rhymes and my life coming together to make a album.
BigLOnline: What knowledge or insight into the music business did you gain during the time between when your debut came out and when you started recording Vendetta? Something that may have influenced a change in your formerly more causal style.
Mic Geronimo: I guess the period of time between albums showed me the "business" of music. It was me learning BDS, the importance of first week sales, mom and pops as compared to chain stores, marketing, promotion, which quarter to drop in, all the bullshit that has nothing to do with a good song.
BigLOnline: So you spun records before you ever took up rhyming, but you didn’t start to produce until your second release. Why did you wait until your sophomore album to decide to start making beats? And what was the transition going from rapping to both producing and rapping like?
Mic Geronimo: It was always something I wanted to do because music always spoke to me. I just wasn't sure if I was ready to reveal that side of myself. I was also not sure that if a beat I made, would be able to stand alongside a Pete Rock, or a D-Dot, or a Havoc beat. But in the end it all worked out.
BigLOnline: You grew up listening to LL Cool J and yet you were there for the now famously historical Canibus response to the LL feud, documented in the ’97 Shades of Hip Hop video. How did you feel about that at the time when you heard it?
Mic Geronimo: The same way I do now. It was a legendary moment, so aside from it being negative, I was privileged enough to have a "front row seat". I think they both showed dexterity and lyrical skill.
BigLOnline: And how did that discussion and cypher session ever come about to begin with? I know you are good friends with X but why did that whole group gather as it did, why was it that group of artists (Mic, Canibus, DMX, John Forte, Mos Def and Big Pun) and why did you guys decide to film it all?
Mic Geronimo: You know…I have no idea who assembled us. I was cool with each of the MCs there. Pun was like my peoples on the block. Me and John Forte was always cool, the same with Mos Def. And Cani was from the hood so, I was cool with all of them.
BigLOnline: What do you personally think can be done to revive the current state of hip hop or do you hold the position that this is just part of another cycle we will get through?
Mic Geronimo: I think everything works in 360. Hip hop has to go from one stage, to the next. And each time it revolves, it picks up a quality it did not have during it's last revolution. Each region plays a part, as does each style. It is what makes the stew taste so good, the different ingredients so…I don't trip. I don't think it was dead, it just got lazy and the importance of certain components changed is all. But it all comes back to the Sun in the end.
BigLOnline: Recently you’ve mentioned possibly going back to school and also that you are doing a project with Roc C, Madlib and Oh No. Is that still in the works? Is there anything else you are working on at the moment, current projects, future plans?
Mic Geronimo: I definitely want to go back to school, but my hands are full. I started a media group called Massbaum with my best friend about a year and a half ago. We are currently working to get Oh No & Roc out there, producing an indie film and I am working on my next LP. And I still perform here and there when I can.
BigLOnline: Now both L and you first came out in ’95 influenced partly by Big Daddy Kane and both of you had a relatively unknown Jay-Z on your albums. You both also knew Royal Flush, O.C. and The Lost Boyz. There’s a lot of overlap between the people in both of your circles. Doo Wop, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Kool G Rap, NaS, Cam’Ron, Fat Joe, Big Pun…Gruff worked with The LOX…Ma$e worked with Puffy and L mentioned how he respected M.O.P. in an interview. You guys have got a lot of affiliates in common. So how did you and Big L get to know each other, how did y’all meet? Maybe talk about the first time y’all met, if you remember and how y’all got introduced.
Mic Geronimo: Big L was definitely my people. What is so ill is I always remember I saw him two days before he was killed. Me and L were cool as hell. I don't remember the first time we met, but we both were running with a crew called Children of the Corn. How I got with them is, my family was Uptown as well as in Queens, so I knew Loon, Ma$e, Infa Red, L, McGruff already.
BigLOnline: We all know L and Pun were affiliated, but how did you get to know Big Pun?
Mic Geronimo: I met Pun through Cuban and Triple Seis. They were and are my boys to this day. The minute Pun and I met we clicked.
BigLOnline: Have you ever seen L and Pun together? Maybe you were there and could fill in something about their connection. Got any stories like that?
Mic Geronimo: My memory is foggy…but I can remember seeing everyone together. Can't remember the details, but definitely remember everyone being together somewhere in the city. At that time all the lyricists were like a fraternity, we all hung together.
BigLOnline: You actually ended up meeting L two days before he was killed, is that right? What was L up to when you met him?
Mic Geronimo: We were at this spot called "The Body Shop". It was a strip club that was located Uptown. L was giving out flyers promoting a party he was doing. He had a couple drinks with me and told me to come through. Two days later, he passed away.
BigLOnline: We all know Big L mastered freestyling, do you have any stories about any Big L battles, or freestyles that you might have witnessed, or about y’all doing a cypher?
Mic Geronimo: None in particular I can remember, but he definitely got busy.
BigLOnline: How would you describe Big L as a person?
Mic Geronimo: L was cool as hell and a hustler.
BigLOnline: Being that you and Big L knew each other, both being incredible MCs, did y’all ever talk about doing a song together?
Mic Geronimo: Yeah actually we did. But do to us both having crazy schedules it did not happen in time. We spoke on it the last night I saw him alive.
BigLOnline: What is your most memorable moment with Big L?
Mic Geronimo: I think that was my most memorable moment with him.
BigLOnline: What do you think made L stand out as an artist?
Mic Geronimo: I think what made him stand out is that he was not the typical Uptown rapper. He kind of reminded me of the flow and cadence that came from Queens. His vocab and flow were more technical, it wasn't dumbed down. But at the same time, he was able to mesh intelligence with style.
BigLOnline: And what’s your favorite Big L track?
Mic Geronimo: Ummm...it's too hard to say. He had so many that were ill. I liked MVP.
BigLOnline: Anything else you’d like to say that hasn’t been covered already?
Mic Geronimo: Nah, just R.I.P., peace to my dude we’ll never forget him and thanks for the support I've gotten out in this world. It means the world to me.
Smoothe Da Hustler May 2007 Interview for Big L Online
Shyheim & Big L in Smoothe Da Hustler's Broken Language video:
(Transcribed by The Big Sleep.)
BigLOnline: To the people who don't know you, could you give us some of your history?
Smoothe Da Hustler: Smoothe Da Hustler, Brooklyn Brownsville, my brother Trigger Tha Gambler, I came out in '95, actually in '94, independent, with a company called Next Level, put out a record called Hustlin', My Everyday Lifestyle Ain't Nothin' But a Hustle and the b-side was Broken Language with Action Jackson. Took off and…changed hip hop. (Laughs.) So that's who I am. Smoothe Da Hustler, Brooklyn Brownsville, BK representer. That's truth, that's true to it, I've been busy, between tryin' to balance family time and balance the shows actually, to who's doing Europe and Paris and you know, a few countries, but I'm ready to hit the road again. I got some shows lined up in Toronto, I got some shows lined up out here and in Baltimore and a few in Seattle. So I mean I'm just tryin' to grind, I gotta keep this money flowin' in so I can keep pressin' up these records and keep creating awareness that Smoothe Da Hustler is phat. Like a lot of cats are doin' me, I might as well do me.
BigLOnline: Are you signed to any label right now, at the moment?
Smoothe Da Hustler: Not at all. No label. No label. Feelin' me. Feelin' myself out, so I mean they played, the hip hop game as a whole, played a major influence on me.
BigLOnline: What are your favorite moments of your career throughout the years?
Smoothe Da Hustler: Wow. My favorite moment was, I think it was my after release party. And everybody came out. I mean all of the rappers. Just Brooklyn in general, I know Brooklyn was crazy. It was at this place called Palladium on 14th Street and like everybody came through. KRS-One came through. I was downstairs all amped up in the dressing room, I'm gettin' knocks on the door and KRS-One is comin' in like "Yo I love your record, it's great, it's real essential for hip hop at this time", real great words. And it was a real, real nice time. We was playin' Monopoly for hundreds of thousands. It was crazy but it was all love. I think those were like my real coolest, fliest moments. And then hookin' up with Ice [T], I mean that's another one. Because he's no doubt a pioneer, from the west coast and he's over here, out here in New York on the radio like "Yo, who is this nigga Smoothe Da Hustler, this nigga is crazy, I need to see him." And the connection when we hooked, it was genuine, I respected him already, loved his shit already and just him being genuine, we kept it thorough, I went to L.A., did some shows, he came through, brought like fifty niggas. He ain't have to but it was all good. And then just from that point it was more friends.
BigLOnline: How would you describe yourself as a rapper, in three words?
Smoothe Da Hustler: Ready, willing and able, three words.
BigLOnline: What do you think of the current state of hip hop? What do you think of hip hop these days?
Smoothe Da Hustler: Oh man, I think the game is repetitive, I mean there's a lot of things I can say that's wrong with the game, which in turn helps the game so I'd be shooting myself in the foot but as far as the game itself, the rappers, the creativity of it is gone, I think it's a bunch of copy cats, recycling. Everybody's hustlin', everybody a hustler now, I'm like damn, I don't even wanna come out sayin' Smoothe Da Hustler no more, call me Shotgun Slim. (Laughs.) Change it up. I mean like everybody's a hustler now, I'm like damn. Which I was tellin' 'em back then in '92 but aight, besides that, I think the hip hop game is still alive and there's still a lot of underground cats that're crazy dope but mainstream ain't pushin' that so we gotta love the internet but at the same time kinda hate the internet 'cause it kinda tore the labels down but at the same time, it's since built the independent artists up so it's a balance, there's both sides of the spectrum.
BigLOnline: You mentioned to us that Big L used to be the only uptown cat to come through and show you love, like in the Broken Language video, how did you get to know Big L?
Smoothe Da Hustler: I used to go uptown, once in a while, stop and see a few of my people and actually, he lived right in the next buildin', so I was comin' downstairs to my car one day like oh damn, Big L. And surprisingly he knew who I was. I mean, I was grindin', I was in my independent stage, before I got signed and he was like "Oh yeah, yeah I'm feelin' it…" and I was like, yeah I'm feelin' what you do, so we exchanged numbers and like every time I would slide uptown I would give him a shout and see if he was around.
BigLOnline: What role did you play in his life, were you a friend or more of a rap partner?
Smoothe Da Hustler: Well I'm quite sure I became a little bit more like a friend, you know, I would talk to him and holla at him.
BigLOnline: Did you have any plans of making a track with Big L?
Smoothe Da Hustler: That's something we talked about, that was definitely gonna happen. I asked him to come to Brooklyn for the video shoot and the night before the video shoot he called me, told me he was comin' down and he came down by himself and the crazy part he said "Yo I ain't gonna even drive, I'ma jump on the train and just meet me at the train station. Every time we hooked up, he was by himself, or some cat that just walked off and you know, it was more on some cool shit, so yeah that was definitely in the works, we talked about doin' a record at the Broken Language video shoot, it was in the works but it just never happened.
BigLOnline: Are you in touch with any of L's old affiliates?
Smoothe Da Hustler: Shit, yeah well, yeah on MySpace I spoke to A.G. and I know Lord Finesse.
BigLOnline: If Big L was still alive, where do you think the rap game would be?
Smoothe Da Hustler: I think it would be less whack and more true.
BigLOnline: What do you think made Big L stand out from most cats?
Smoothe Da Hustler: I don't know…I think it was just like his wordplay. His wordplay was crazy. And he was a solo artist, he had features but he was more like, loyal to himself, he could actually shine on a record, without nobody, he ain't need nobody to help him shine on a record. I mean just his style, his vocals and shit, pretty much stood out and he did it all.
BigLOnline: Did he ever mention about his future plans?
Smoothe Da Hustler: He was talkin' about comin' out with another album and that we was actually gonna do somethin', you know, he was gonna do somethin' on my album, I was gonna do somethin' on his album and that was pretty much it.
BigLOnline: This is something we ask every artist, what's your favorite Big L track?
Smoothe Da Hustler: Favorite track, damn, I gotta few, I like Ebonics, on the Big Picture album. (Starts rapping:) "A burglary is a jook, a wolf's a crook, Mobb Deep already explained the meanin' of shook. If you caught a felony, you caught an F, if you got killed, you got left, if you got the dragon, you got bad breath…" (Laughs.) "If you seven-thirty that mean you crazy, hit me on the hip means page me…"
BigLOnline: Okay, ready for some word association? How 'bout…your fans?
Smoothe Da Hustler: Loyalty.
Smoothe Da Hustler: The last blocks on Earth. (Laughs.)
BigLOnline: George Bush?
Smoothe Da Hustler: Oh, the devil.
BigLOnline: Hip hop?
Smoothe Da Hustler: Alive again. (Laughs.) Resurrection.
Smoothe Da Hustler: Wow…motherboard.
BigLOnline: Big L?
Smoothe Da Hustler: Legend.
Shyheim July 2008 Interview for Big L Online
Shyheim & his Big L tattoo:
(Interview by Francesca Djerejian, Edited by The Big Sleep)
Although they only released one song together, Furious Anger, Big L and Shyheim were close friends in the rap game. In a display of loyalty, Shyheim commemorated Big L's memory by having an L tatted on his neck. From their days chilling uptown, to L's lyrics, to his open casket funeral, Shyheim reminisces about Harlem's Finest in this interview with BigLOnline.
BigLOnline: How did you and Big L first meet?
Shyheim: Met L like say like 1993, he was signed with Columbia Records and I was just about to sign to Virgin Records. It was either Virgin or Warner; that was one of the biggest bidding wars in '93, between Virgin and Warner Bros. for me. We used to see each other; I used to always go to Harlem. We used to always bump heads at Gram's Tunes, it's like some party shit they used to have in Harlem. I don't know if they still have it because I haven't been there in a while. It was blocks of people partying and I was just uptown doing my one, two and he spit, I spit. He came out with his music, but our relationship wasn't forced. We used to see each other, we exchanged numbers. By the time it came to my third album, when we really started fucking with each other, I had a budget and L was pushing his shit independent at the time. This was the time Ebonics was dropping, and I had a budget so I was like, "Yo son, I got a budget, come get on the album, boom, I bless you with some paper, get you to produce a joint" and we were working. There was more to come out and we did a few more songs, I don't know where them shits is at now. Like we had some shit with me, L, Cocoa Brovas, I don't know where that shit went.
BigLOnline: How did the idea for the Furious Anger collabo come about?
Shyheim: The collabo came about because we was in touch, we was politicking. I knew the situation he was pushing for with his music, I was doing the same. I got into a situation where I was more in control of my career. And at that point I decided to do a deal with RZA and Wu-Tang at the time, instead of taking my option with Virgin. I just thought it was something else at that time.
BigLOnline: What was it like recording with L?
Shyheim: L was cool, man. It was like…I record and niggas that record around me know I do my shit, and he was one of the people that could correct me and I wouldn't take it no way, because it wasn't nothing but what it was.
BigLOnline: How would he correct you?
Shyheim: He'd be like…aight, we doing a song like Furious Anger. I wrote three verses in the studio and he said yo, I think you should use these [two verses] and that was L, so I was like aight.
BigLOnline: What was he like in the booth?
Shyheim: I don't know all that shit, 'cause when it's your dude, it's just your dude. He did what he did; I did what I did it. It wasn't one of those things like, "aw this is L, let me study how this nigga gonna write his dart." It's like "yo, he write his dart, I write my shit, boom." We talk about ideas and boom, we created music. His skills speak for itself, we all know that. All I can really talk about is how he was as a person, that's what I know. He's a legend, the same as Pac, the same as Big. [But it was] I rhyme, you rhyme. You not lookin' at the nigga like that. "You respect my handle, I respect your handle, we make something, we bust it down", I can't really say nothing else.
BigLOnline: What was he like as a person?
Shyheim: L was funny. We just snapped, we would joke around and shit like that.
BigLOnline: What was your fondest memory of him?
Shyheim: Every moment, really. It's not one time. It could've been a phone conversation when I was going through things and needed somebody to talk to. It's like that with Big Daddy Kane for me, a dude who I could call, whatever. But L was definitely a good dude.
BigLOnline: You have him tatted on your neck…
Shyheim: The tat came from…'cause I know what he was pushing for. I was like "yo, if I ever get to the level of getting a fuckin' Grammy or some shit like that, and I'm standing there it's like Big L, like what nigga? I'm here, you here, they gonna look at me wherever I go and remember you." That's what that was for. I got another one for my man Sacks, every tattoo I got is for my niggas.
BigLOnline: Do you think L was underrated?
Shyheim: He was who he was, to me underrated…that's like you can only be you. Those that can relate to you is gonna relate to you. Some looked at him as underrated, but then some looked at him as the greatest. So you can't, can't really…fuck that, nah, he wasn't underrated, not to me. Maybe to someone who didn't understand him. That don't mean he not as just good, you just don't understand it. He was still underground like me, we was one and the same.
BigLOnline: He always seemed to be reaching for that platinum success…
Shyheim: You know why? Because it's like he deserved it. And like I said, sometimes it's more so who into what you into, who can understand. More people understood something else. I understood him, I understood his pain; I understood everything, every story. He wasn't on no sit there and pour your heart out, 'cause we niggas and shit, but he'd tell a story.
BigLOnline: He also talked about the streets, was he in the streets?
Shyheim: I mean well you gotta answer that question. If you not in the street, street things don't happen, really. I don't really wanna talk about that part of it though. L's was one of the first niggas I seen…this nigga used to rock a mink, black mink word up. Even...God bless him, even at his wake he was dap. I'll never forget that, ever. There was no way I wasn't gonna be there and my son was blue Coogi-ed out, frames on.
Shyheim - Furious Anger & Interview
Gilda "Pinky" Terry, Lamont "Big L" Coleman's Mother's 2005 Tribute Interview for the German Magazine Juice
(Original article scanned by Soobax, provided and edited by The Big Sleep and translated from German into English by noeamvp / noeanazareth.)
Six long years have gone by since Lamont Coleman a.k.a. Big L passed away. On February the 15th, 1999 the legendary Harlem MC was shot in the streets. The anniversary of his death isn't known by the public like Biggie's or Pac's and while they've been praised like gods, ever since, L's name has been a footnote under the topic the ones we lost. It's true that his records sold after his death, but it's also a fact that L couldn't sell more than Pac's album Loyal to the Game did the first week. What's the reason? This story will attempt to explain why...
"L is the rebel type, I'm rough as a metal pipe, fuck a Benz, 'cause I could pull skins on a pedal bike."
In '92, two lines were enough to catapult Big L to the top of the list of the most promising MCs in New York. His verse on Represent (which you'll find on the Runaway Slave album from Showbiz & A.G.) was of course longer than two lines, but showed what characterized him in the early years, just like "it ain't where you from, it's where you at" could be the headline for what Rakim accomplished in his twenty years as an MC. Unlike rap philosopher Rakim Allah, L earned his first props as a live freestyler and battle rapper. To put himself in a good position and make the opponent look ridiculous was his mission since day one. In his best times L would end an already impressive show with a killer line that could destroy everyone at any time. A rhyme like the two quoted lines, which been there half an eternity and still live on, while the man behind them has been laid to rest years ago.
Big L was born on May 30th, 1974 in Harlem, New York. Even though the northern part of Manhattan was known as the Mecca of black culture 'til the '70s, it has nearly lost its importance with the birth of hip hop. Unlike classic rap boroughs like Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens, Harlem was secondary. Big L choose the traditional path as entertainer, which you had to choose if you wanted to have success in Harlem. He performed at amateur competitions at the legendary Apollo Theatre on 125th street, like generations of jazz, soul, blues and gospel musicians did before him. The Apollo was known for its critical audience; if you don't make it there, you get booed from stage immediately. Big L made it there that evening and won the winner's trophy, the start of his career as Harlem's number one MC. It's said that even his mom and grandma wanted to see the show, but L dismissed them because he wanted to hide his rhymes from them. The performance at the Apollo was his first big break as a young and unsigned artist. In the early '90s Big L won more freestyle competitions than any Harlem MC had ever before and he was the only one from his high school clique who thought about a career as a professional musician. Killa Kam and Murda Mase (later to become Cam'Ron and Ma$e) with whom he created the group Children of the Corn, started years after he began to take this music thing serious, knowing that they celebrated the success which had been refused to their mentor.
"I only roll with originators, chicks stick to my dick like magnets on refrigerators."
The Legendary Lord Finesse was the first one who gave the super talent from Harlem a play on his record. Finesse released his second album and for the first single Showbiz changed the moderate track Yes You May into the best remix of the early '90s. Today on eBay it's worth approximately a hundred dollars. Whoever has heard the track with Finesse and Big L knows why. In the same year L signed his first deal with Columbia Records, about the time NaS and MC Eiht signed with Sony. L's first single caused so much trouble that its remarkable there was even an album coming out at all. Devil's Son was released in '93 as a promo twelve inch and landed on the map because of its glorifying violence and its sexist lyrics. Hanging enemies on a chandelier and raping nuns? Killing bitches, shout outs to serial killers, insane crack heads and niggas with AIDS? Looked like speaking taboos and breaking barriers was his first aim (but nowadays you can say for sure that he didn't take the whole satanic stuff seriously). This was important because it showed that L clearly knew he needed a trademark, something that made him unique, unmistakable. He also knew that a rapper has always to develop, never stand still even if the direction may be false. Columbia Records liked the scandal arising from Devil's Son and in '95 L's first album Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous was released, continuing with the same lyrics on Da Graveyard where another talented rapper named Jay-Z had his hardly noticed first major label guest appearance.
"I'm from Harlem and we all were there at the same time, Kam, Mase, Big L, me. We all were rappers but he was a true MC. There's nothing more to say. Big L, my nigga, rest in peace." ~ Black Rob
"I'm known for snatchin' purses and bombin' churches, I get more pussy on accident than most niggas get on purpose."
Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous, Big L's only major LP was a commercial flop, although the top producers and the top MCs of the early '90s were on it, there was not enough promotion or it was false promotion. Of course there's been a lot of speculation about the reasons why the record failed. Some important and probably on point reasoning was quite often ignored. First: the record came at least one year too late, in '95 other names and styles were leading New York City. There was Biggie, Wu-Tang and Dr. Dre with his people on the West Coast. Second: L, the freestyle king, actually had problems holding his own on a full length. From today's perspective you'll recognize that he had his best moments with someone besides him on a track. He shined the brightest among other MCs; the competition situation was his home and in this situation he was able to put out the best of himself. Alone on a track he seemed stuck. Big L left Columbia Records shortly after releasing Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous. The career which started so promising had its first big low. Showbiz, member of the D.I.T.C. crew, said about this time: "L wanted to quit rapping after that. He said the fire in him was gone."
"I remember the sessions at Lord Finesse's place. First we picked a beat; most likely a classic and then everybody touched the mic. Fat Joe, Big L, Diamond, A.G., Finesse, me, etc. We would hang in a deteriorated basement and spit the illest rhymes for hours. I'm sure Big L would be bored nowadays, because the game isn't the same now. It's all about fake shit. He was too real for this game." ~ Milano
"I know you like the way I'm freakin' it, I talk with slang and I'm a never stop speakin' it."
From '96 to February '99 shortly before he died, L didn't release any new solo material. One reason was his failing at a major label, another not having any structure in the background. Flamboyant Entertainment, his own label, was one reaction but it took nearly four years before any new songs were released. Before that L was only seen as member of his crew D.I.T.C. In the second half of the '90s several singles were released by Fat Joe, O.C., Showbiz, A.G., Diamond and L. They've became collectors items shortly after they dropped. The Era of D.I.T.C. had its sad climax with the releasing of the album Worldwide, on Tommy Boy. When the record was released in 2000 Big L was already deceased and the release date was delayed once again for recording the song Tribute, a dedication to L. Big L's parts on Worldwide were similar to his older tracks. He developed, to some extent, the lyrics from older freestyles he dropped before. His last solo twelve inch is perfect when comparing to his developing as a lyricist. It seems he found what he lost after failing with his first album: enthusiasm for the art of MCing. On his single Ebonics L broached his slang. He created a street lexicon. That may sound boring on paper, but on vinyl the track is a little masterpiece. Tragically his last single gives you the feeling that here is an MC who prepares to take this thing to a whole other level. The Heist is a classic storytelling track; L tells a typical story about murder and death like never before on his tracks. There was no doubt he had been able to do this, but he never showed it before. And this versatility emerged just before he died. It's said that Damon Dash offered L a contract signing to Roc-A-Fella, but L declined because Dash wouldn't sign the Flamboyant MCs McGruff and C-Town too. Other rumors say that Big L, McGruff and C-Town planed to form a crew together with Jay-Z called The Wolfpack. They were few days away from signing the contracts.
"Of course I miss him as an MC, but more as a human. I miss his attitude, his slang, his street stories, all that. L, when you hear me: I miss you nigga, may you rest in peace, fuck the rest." ~ Large Professor
On February 15th, 1999, Lamont Coleman a.k.a. Big L was shot to death at 139th street in Harlem. His murderer shot him in the chest and face. There are rumors that Gerald Woodley was the killer. But nobody was ever convicted for the murder.
Family Ties: A Dialogue with Big L's Mom, Gilda Terry
Even if in the mainstream Big L is ignored most of the time and all the respect only goes to Biggie, Pac, Eazy E and Jam Master Jay, the MVP lives on in the hearts of all true rap fans. For the sixth anniversary of L's death Lord Finesse put together a tribute concert in Manhattan's S.O.B.'s. Treach, Freddie Foxxx, Black Rob, Grafh, Wordsworth, Immortal Technique, Large Professor and old school pioneer Jesse West touched the mic. Besides Fight Club winner Axel, Alchemist, Easy Mo Bee and Masta Ace, there was also Gilda Terry in the audience, Big L's mother, who was overwhelmed with tears at her first rap concert. We met her with Renata Lowenbraun (a kind of business adviser who conducted all the discussion of L together with Lord Finesse) in M&G. L had gone into the twenty four hour soul food spot with chicks he met to eat his Big L specials: eggs and cheese, grits, fishcakes and orange juice, freshly squeezed.
Juice Magazine: To end all the rumors, what were the exact circumstances your son died under?
Gilda Terry: Lamont was shot in front of our house on the 15th of February, 1999. He was shot out of a moving car. Several bullets hit him in the upper part of the body and face. He was killed immediately.
Juice Magazine: It's been said that the assassin didn't even want L. Is that true?
Gilda Terry: Yes, everything points to his brother Leroy as the main target. He was involved in several drug deals.
Juice Magazine: How many children do you have?
Gilda Terry: Three sons. Lamont, the youngest, Leroy and an older brother.
Juice Magazine: Did they all live together with you in your house?
Gilda Terry: No, only Lamont. After work I wanted to watch a movie on TV on the evening he was shot. Lamont was in his room and wrote lyrics, like every day. Whether he was going out to the drugstore or if they called him on the cellphone and trapped him I don't know. When he was about to leave the house he said: "See you later mom"…that was the last time I heard his voice.
Juice Magazine: On almost every track L gave shout outs to his "big brother Big Lee", how was the relationship between them both?
Gilda Terry: Leroy was eight years older. Lamont saw him as his mentor, some kind of father he never had. Unfortunately...otherwise I wouldn't be sitting here right now. Without Leroy my baby would be alive. Leroy was the troublemaker, not Lamont. He had good grades; I never had to pick him up because he did something stupid. Actually he sat most of the time in his room and wrote lyrics.
Juice Magazine: You said Leroy was the troublemaker?
Gilda Terry: Yes. Only a few know that Leroy died in March, 2001. Two years before they had killed Lamont, because he was the nearest person to him and an easy target. 2001 they reached their aim.
Juice Magazine: Renata, do you think the same person did these two murders?
Renata Lowenbraun Esq.: Honestly I've got no idea. There is a suspect but not enough evidence. So...
Gilda Terry: The case isn't closed yet. And I'm not giving up. I know that there were witnesses on the streets who saw everything out of their window. They must have seen the car and shooter. Now or later somebody is going to call the police to get their conscience clean.
Juice Magazine: What about Gerald Woodley? We hear that name very often.
Gilda Terry: That's the name of the suspect. But he was convicted in the Bronx because of drug dealing and not murder. They let him go, because there wasn't enough evidence. It's a fact that he got something to do with this murder. But nobody can say if he pulled the trigger. Yes, not even if he was there around the time of the shooting.
Juice Magazine: Does the police keep you up to date with information about the investigation?
Gilda Terry: Bullshit! I had to go out for myself for information. And to show them that I won't stop, I'm calling the police regularly. Because if I didn't do that, they would close the case.
Juice Magazine: Thats's hard. On the other side it's not really remarkable if you think about how little clarity was brought into the cases of Tupac and Biggie.
Renata Lowenbraun Esq.: …and those cases were discussed all over the media. Lamont was too underground; his death didn't reach the public media. You have to realize that the more famous the victim was, the more engagement police put into their investigation. There's more pressure caused by the public to solve the case. At the end of the day it's all about money.
Juice Magazine: You are not known to try to profit off of Big L's name.
Renata Lowenbraun Esq.: Finesse and I want to bring out another posthumous album. But we are aware of the ethical problems that'll bring along. The last thing we want to do is put out a compilation album, filled with feature songs including artists L would never have worked with in the studio. We feel the pressure. The material we got is rich in content and it absolutely proof of L's artistic line when he was alive. But of course it's not exhaustless and not reversible. An artist can make mistakes while recording a track and say: no big deal, I'll do it better the next time. In the case of L that's no longer possible. Don't forget, all the labels nowadays got enough problems to promote their artists and they're able to shot videos, do interviews and go on tours. How should that work with someone who has passed away? Let's not be blind: the general public doesn't even know L, especially the young audience. If you want to keep his memories alive you've got to reach the general public. But that's a game of luck!
Juice Magazine: How do you split the work with Lord Finesse?
Renata Lowenbraun Esq.: I'm dealing with the business and administration side of things. Finesse takes care of the development of the songs until they are finished. He's upgrading L's vocals and is using his connections to other MCs and producers.
Juice Magazine: Are all the beats produced by the D.I.T.C. crew?
Renata Lowenbraun Esq.: Mostly. Certainly I'm fighting to get the actual big names involved in the project. But it's not easy to spark the interests of the producers.
Juice Magazine: There were a lot of rap heroes at the tribute concert at S.O.B.'s. How do you feel seeing these big names coming to honor your son with a concert?
Gilda Terry: I was really flattered. But if you believe it or not: it was my first rap concert.
Juice Magazine: You never saw your son perform?
Gilda Terry: Never. Actually he forbid me to come to see his shows. He knew it would drive me crazy hearing all the dirty things him and his friends rapped about. It's nice to hear from all that my son stands for real rap, but I see no different between him and other gangster guys on TV. I never was a fan of his music. In 2003 I heard "The Big Picture" full length for the first time. Of course I was aware of his lyrical talent and I'm flattered that fans adore him as the artist he was. But to tell you the truth: it's not my taste.
Juice Magazine: Because of the music or the language?
Gilda Terry: The first song I heard was Devil's Son. I couldn't believe the words coming out of the mouth of my baby. I said: My god, Lamont, are you aware of what you're writing? You'll incite our whole community and all chapels in Harlem with that enormity. But I liked singles like MVP or Put It On.
Juice Magazine: Because they were clean, radio edits?
Gilda Terry: (Laughs.) Yes, maybe that's the reason. I've had enough of all this violence and tackiness. I would wish that all the artists clear up that this stuff is only entertainment and the images seen in their videos have got nothing to do with real life.
Juice Magazine: As we asked Mrs. Terry for a picture of her son, she was going in the kitchen and came back with a picture showing Lamont in church clothes. "He was as sweet as he was young", Terry said with a sad voice. "He always wanted to be photographed like this to look like Don Corleone. By the age of six he didn't like cartoons anymore; he only wanted to watch The Godfather and other mobster movies". In a sad moment six years ago he came close to his role model. This moment took from the rap world, one of its biggest talents. Big L, rest in peace.