The 1990s was one of the most exciting times hip-hop has ever seen. With labels such as Death Row Records and Bad Boy Entertainment ruling the charts, an unfathomable amount of quality rap music was being produced. The early-’90s saw two separate movements gain traction in the US. In New York, the gritty, dystopian lyricism of acts such as Nas, Big L, Mobb Deep and the Wu-Tang Clan were making waves. In contrast, in LA, projects like The Chronic and Doggystyle saw G-funk cross into the mainstream.
Although California MCs such as Snoop Dogg and Tupac remained mainstays in the charts, New York City artists were just as potent in the 1990s, and many formidable lyricists were bursting onto the scene in this period. Big L was considered one of the greatest rappers in New York during the late 1990s. With Big Pun representing The Bronx, Biggie representing Brooklyn, Nas representing Queens and the Wu-Tang Clan representing Staten Island, Big L was, without question, the primary representative for Manhattan when it came to rap.
Big L created fantastic music during his career with his debut album, Lifestyle Ov Da Poor & Dangerous, setting a precedent in hip-hop for quality albums. Big L helped launch the careers of rappers who achieved vast success, including Ma$e and Cam’Ron as the founder of the Harlem rap crew Children of the Corn. Before his endeavours as a solo artist, Big L was a proud member of the D.I.T.C crew. The Diggin’ In The Crates crew (though short-lived) was home to legends such as Fat Joe, Lord Finesse, Big L and Buckwild and was destined for greatness. However, creative differences saw the collective dissipate.
As the ensemble began to disband, Big L focused on his own creative visions. Before his tragic murder in 1995, there was one posse cut the emcee (real name Lamont Coleman) was looking to record, which would have been an iconic track had it come to fruition. According to Coleman’s former collaborator, DJ Ron G, the late rapper planned on making a track alongside Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., and a young Jay-Z. In an interview with The Art of Dialogue podcast, his counterpart unveiled how Lamont wanted to record a sequel to his track ‘Deadly Combination’ featuring 2Pac. Elaborating on his hope and desire, Ron G revealed, “His dream was he wanted to do a song with Biggie and 2Pac, and he was lyrically nice. So before he got killed, we were sitting in my studio smoking, and he’s like, ‘Yo, I just want to do a song with Jay-Z, Biggie, and 2pac.’ I was like, ‘Word.'”
Ron G, DJ Premier and Lord Finesse ended up as the executive producers of Big L’s 2000 posthumous album, The Big Picture. According to the DJ, they did approach Voletta Wallace (Biggie Smalls’ mother) to request the use of a vocal for a remix. However, Ron G unveiled how, when he asked permission, “She was upset that I came to her with the song, and she was also upset that I came there with my lawyer. I never seen Ms. Wallace after that. I just was like, ‘Well, take Biggie off,’ and we left it like that.” However, 2pac did end up on The Big Picture, on the track “Deadly Combination.” You can listen to the song in the video below.