I remember hearing Big L way back in 1992 on Showbiz & AG's 'Represent' (No I didn't get to hear Lord Finesses's 'Yes you may' remix until afterwards) and his verse struck me, this emcee would go far. From then on Big L would come along with the first single 'Put it on' from the album 'Lifestyles ov da poor and dangerous' which was criminally underrated and ignored but most of us still got a copy somewhere realizing this kid had yet to reach his full potential. His affiliation with DITC also did him no harm as cuts like 'Get Yours' and 'The enemy' (Which thankfully appears on this album) showed Big L with some of his finest verses and lines. Rawkus have now taken what Big L had originally recorded and added to it, hoping not to make the same mistakes as 'Born Again' or the whole 2pac catalogue still being released nearly 4 years after his death.
We've experienced posthumous releases from Big Pun, Eazy E, Biggie and 2pac and somehow they have never quite gelled once a producer has got hold of these late emcees vocals and either spoiled it with bad production or lined them up alongside emcees who they never worked with or would never have worked with. 'The Big picture' doesn't suffer from mismatched emcees hooking up with Big L, nearly every guest seems to work well and at least fit in with the production. The album opens with a similar style setting to Gangstarrs 'full clip', it seems the excerpt is taken from the same show up at Tramps last year for the Big L memorial concert. We're thrown straight into a nice verse over a beautifully laced Primo beat that finely introduces us to the album that is 'The Big Picture'.
Big L was a lyricist who was just as 'Flamboyant' as Jay Z on the mic but he had that edge, that edge that remained with him, he did the odd cut for the radio but judging by the tracks on this album even though he wanted to go platinum there are no obviously radio friendliness here. He should get a platinum plaque for the classic that is 'Ebonics', in this cut he breaks down all the street slang, joined in a way only Big L could string together. I'm not sure what it is but even though I've heard it a million times it still shines through as one of the nicest tracks on 'The Big Picture'. The original flipside of that 12", 'Size 'em up' (Also released and remixed as 'On the mic') is just the same, just as nice.
Rawkus could even have used this album to promote their artists like Kweli or Monch but they knew Big L would never have really rhymed with them, instead they just use Kool G Rap on 'Fall Back' and its one nice joint. Up tempo, horns blazin' Kool G rap supports the verse he has been blessed with and carries this track nicely into something that would eventually have been if Big L had not passed on.
Pete Rock provides an addictive product for 'Holding it down', I got to hear Big L's verse a while back and it had me waiting hard on this album but hearing miss Jones putting in a cheesy hook spoils this for me. AG closes with a verse but it just keeps you wanting a nice DITC collabo for this cut, wheres Diamond? Wheres OC? Fat Joe? Well you may not get a nice collabo in the style of 'Day One' but 'The Triboro' aims to unite OC, Fat Joe, Big L and that new girl on the block, Remy Martin over a hard as fuck Showbiz beat that triumphantly closes this album.
'Platinum Plus' is one of the standout tracks for me on this album as another veteran, Big Daddy Kane hooks up with Big L over what? A DJ premier beat. Its fast paced production allows both emcees to rip it up with their mic time. In fact you may think I am biased but Premier brings most of the best tracks to the table on this album, although I am glad he didn't put his remix of 'Ebonics' on here and left the original for peeps dumb enough not to catch it the first time. I mean 'The Enemy' is proof enough that emcee and producer work well together although I'm pretty sure its Fat Joe and Big L who really shine on this track, 3 years old and its still better than the shit I heard lately. Then there's 'Deadly Combination' with 2pac, a track that could have been total shit as two emcees no longer with us are brought together, united only in rhyming time and production, but with its steel drum backing, it works.
The album isn't without problems or dud tracks, production lacks here and there and on most of the collaborations he only spits one verse, in true Big L fashion outshining his guests and leaving you want more. 'Games' is a prime example, with boring production and average verses from Sadat X & Guru. I never really liked 'Flamboyant' either that much because of the forced sound of the track but thankfully the rest of the album doesn't suffer the same fate.
This will be the last LP from Lamont Colemon but he has left us with a great album, he may pop up elsewhere with a verse here and there but this piece of work truly leaves a legacy for artists to aspire to. When Big L was murdered last year by a gunman out for his brother we all knew we had lost one of hip hops nicest emcees before he hit his peak. As the album fades Big L tells his interviewer he's going platinum this time, a sound bite that will strike a chord with you as you realize what you have just listened to deserves it. The words of DJ Premier 'Big L Rest In peace' will always echo through our mind.