Big L was about to sign with Roc-A-fella before his murder
(Credit: Columbia)

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Big L was about to sign with Roc-A-fella before his murder

Harlem rapper Big L (real name Lamont Cole) was a legendary underground emcee during the 1990s. The Manhattan musician began his career as a member of the Diggin’ In The Crates crew, which comprised of legends such as Fat Joe, Lord Finesse, Big L and Buckwild. However, during the mid-’90s, the lyricist began to pursue a solo career. Starting afresh with his own collective, Children Of The Corn. Following the release of his debut album, Lifestyle Ov Da Poor & Dangerous, Big L cultivated young Harlem talents such as Ma$e and Cam’Ron.

By 1998, Cole was a known name and a respected lyricist in New York, and although he was yet to go nationwide, he undoubtedly had the talent. According to his former crewmate Lord Finesse, Big L didn’t get the proper support from his label as they were intent on pushing Nas.

There was also a matter of poor timing, as the New York underground was extremely saturated during the 1990s. However, earlier this year, to mark 24 years since his death, Big L’s estate posted a video and photo that suggested that Cole was set to sign with Roc-A-Fella before his murder.

Following the failure of his debut album, Cole founded his own label, Flamboyant Entertainment, and in the post, the emcee can be heard giving a call to action announcing, “Check it out y’all, this is Flamboyant Entertainment, make sure y’all come thru to Pulse Thursday, February 18th.” The thumbnail of the video featured a photo of Big L alongside Dame Dash, the co-founder of Roc-A-Fella, and suggests that the event at Pulse was a celebration of Big L signing to Dame Dash, Jay-Z and Kareem ‘Biggs’ Burke’s renowned Roc-A-Fella Records.

Dame Dash had curated a crew of New York-based emcees, and, in 1999, after his split from Columbia, Cole was preparing to sign the deal with The Roc along with McGruff, Stan and C-Town as a group called The Wolfpack.

The post’s caption read, “This voicemail was sent out to everyone for the party that was set to commemorate the signing of Big L becoming a Roc a fella / Flamboyant Entertainment Artist. The plan was for L to sign his deal with the Roc along with McGruff, Stan and C-Town. The name of the group was going to be called ‘The Wolfpack’. Unfortunately 3 days before the event, Big L was taken away from us”

Cole was murdered on West 139th Street in Harlem in 1999, the prevailing narrative is that he was shot in retaliation for something his brother did. The killer was alleged to be Gerard Woodley, and in a suspicious killing in 2016, Woodley was shot in the head on 139th Street. You can see the post below.