Big Punisher - "Still Not A Player" x "Beware"

Literature holds the tradition of the "tragic hero," a character who the audience cares for, not because they are perfect, god-like beings, but because their flaws make them all the more human (and typically lead to their downfall).

Christopher Rios, better known by his moniker Big Pun, was one of hip hop's tragic heroes.  The South Bronx-born Puerto Rican emcee was literally and figuratively larger than life.  Though fit as an adolescent (he played basketball and boxed before dropping out of school at 15), Pun rode the line between obesity and morbid obesity for most of his life.  His 1998 debut album Capital Punishment is one of the most complete albums I've ever heard, a perfect blend of pop hits and hardcore battle raps, and was the first album by a Latin emcee to go platinum.  In effect, it was Pun's success and skill that killed him.  Life on tour did not encourage a healthy lifestyle and Pun's weight skyrocketed. Eventually, he was convinced to check into a weight-loss clinic in North Carolina where he lost 80 pounds but did not complete the treatment due to homesickness.  On Febuary 7, 2000, Pun suffered a fatal heart attack and respiratory failure while at home with his family.  He reportedly weighed 698 pounds at the time of his death.  He was 28.

Although the movement lost a legend that day, Pun's memory lives on in his wife, three children, and songs.  These songs come off of Pun's classic debut album, Capital Punishment, and represent the two sides of Pun that made him one of the greatest talents in the game (listening to them now makes me weep for what could have been).  "Still Not A Player" is possibly the only song that I like the Radio Edit version more than the explicit version.  The chorus should be recognized by nearly anyone who grew up in the 90s and is one of those songs that transcends genres in its popularity.  "Beware" represents the battle rap side of Pun and shows his overly aggressive and daunting, yet still humorous and lyrically profound self.  These are just a taste of the classic album.  Other amazing songs include "Punish Me," "Dream Shatterer," "You Came Up," and "You Ain't a Killer."  The album features guest appearances by legends Fat Joe, Prodigy, Inspectah Deck, Black Thought, and Busta Rhymes and Pun outshines them all.  Big Pun was a legend taken from us far too soon.  R.I.P.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,
Nostalgic Noah

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