Hip-hop artist Big Pun was of Latino descent, and the Latino hip-hop artist’s album Capital Punishment debuted at number one on the R&B/hip-hop charts. He passed away in 2000 due to heart failure caused by his weight.
Who Was Big Pun?
With the release of his debut studio album, titled Capital Punishment, Big Pun made history by becoming the first Latino rapper to earn a platinum certification. Pun was extremely proud of his Puerto Rican ancestry, contributing to his rise to icon status in his community. In February of 2000, he passed away due to heart failure while weighing close to 700 pounds.
Christopher Rios, better known by his stage as Big Pun, was given birth to on November 10, 1971, in the Bronx, New York. Big Pun was a Latino artist who broke new ground in hip-hop music, but unfortunately, his career was cut far too short. Early in his youth, he was successful in school and actively participated in sports. However, he finally left his family at the age of 15 due to the difficulties in his family life and did not return to complete his high school education.
Big Pun, who was responsible for his education, was a voracious reader. In addition to that, he developed an interest in breakdancing and rapping. Because he spent most of that time without a home, he endured a challenging period. When Big Pun and his girlfriend from junior high school, Liza, had their first kid together a few years later, he was immediately faced with the additional responsibility of becoming a young parent. (They had two more children after getting married in 1990 and having them.) He responded to the pressures of his life by eating more, which led to him gaining weight. He established the rap group Full a Clips Crew and used the stage name Big Moon Dog. Big Pun stood out from the other group members due to his intricate lyrics and capacity to rap for an extended period of time without pausing for a breath.
In 1995, Big Pun’s life changed dramatically when he was introduced to the successful rapper and record producer Fat Joe. Aware of Big Pun’s considerable abilities, Fat Joe invited him to contribute to the song “Watch Out.” The two enormously talented individuals established a solid connection and collaborated closely. After being influenced by a character from a comic book, he changed his identity to Big Punisher and became a member of the Terror Squad, a crew of Latino rappers linked with Fat Joe. Even the terms of Big Pun’s recording contract with Loud Records were negotiated with Fat Joe’s assistance.
Success and Struggles: ‘Capital Punishment’
1997, Big Pun achieved his first commercial success with the single “I’m Not a Player,” which quickly climbed the rap charts and eventually reached the number three position. The same thing happened with his debut album, Capital Punishment, released in 1998. It topped the R&B/hip-hop album rankings. It featured guest appearances from well-known rappers like Wyclef Jean of the Fugees and Busta Rhymes, among others. After finally selling more than 2 million copies, the album earned him the distinction of being the first Latino rapper to receive a platinum certification. In a short time, Big Pun was able to amass a considerable following and establish himself as a hero within the Puerto Rican community. He was very proud of his Puerto Rican ancestry and referenced it in his lyrics. On occasion, he would even wrap himself in a Puerto Rican flag.
Big Pun had already reached a weight of approximately 400 pounds at the time of the album’s release, but as his career progressed, he continued to put on weight. His friend Fat Joe encouraged him to make an effort to reduce his weight, and he even enrolled in a weight-loss program at Duke University in North Carolina in the year 1999. Big Pun succeeded in shedding some pounds, but it was temporary. He quickly gained back the weight he had lost, 80 pounds, and continued to put on more.
Because of his stature, even simple tasks like moving around and dealing with day-to-day concerns became difficult. Despite this, Big Pun was still able to leave audiences in awe whenever he performed live. As a result of his incredible talents, he was in high demand and even made a guest appearance on Jennifer Lopez’s song “Feelin’ So Good” alongside Fat Joe. Big Pun was scheduled to appear on Saturday Night Live on February 5, 2000, with Jennifer Lopez and Fat Joe singing the song, but he canceled his appearance since he was not in good health.
Death and Legacy
At this time, Big Pun, and his family, including his wife and children, were residing in a hotel in White Plains, New York. They were there because construction was being done on their home in the Bronx. On February 7, he had trouble breathing and fainted in his hotel room. He was taken to the hospital. His wife dialed 9-1-1, but the emergency medical technicians could not bring him back from the dead. Big Pun had only been alive for 28 years since he died from heart failure. At the time of his death, he weighed almost 700 pounds.
Both the hip-hop and Latino communities expressed their sorrow over the loss of one of its stars. A few days after his passing, thousands of devoted followers gathered in the Bronx to pay their respects at his wake. A local sign painting firm called TATS Cru decided to pay tribute to him by painting a massive mural about him on the side of a building in his neighborhood. Several of his well-known friends have expressed their sorrow over his passing. Lopez told MTV that the late singer “was a wonderful artist and a great person, and he was a source of pride for the Latin community.” In an interview with the New York Times, Fat Joe said, “I lost a brother.”
Yeah, Baby, Big Pun’s second studio album, was released exactly two months after the rapper died. The album, which features his signature tongue-twisting lyrics and cultural references from Latin American countries, was met with positive reviews and swiftly climbed to position No. 3 on the overall album rankings, as well as the top spot on the R&B/hip-hop album charts. Endangered Species, a compilation of his previous work released the next year and performed well, served as a fitting farewell for the larger-than-life rapper.
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