Top 5: The five best Big Pun tracks ever made
(Credit: Wikimedia)


Top 5: The five best Big Pun tracks ever made

The late Big Pun was a legendary rapper in the late 1990s and was one of the first Latino rappers to break into the mainstream successfully. Along with fellow Puerto Rican rapper Fat Joe, Big Pun became one of the most popular New York rappers before passing in 2000. 

Born Christopher Rios, Big Pun came from the inner city projects of the Castle Hill neighbourhood and was inspired by acts such as Rakim and Big Daddy Kane growing up. Wanting to enter the world of hip hop, Big Pun tracked down Fat Joe, who was one of the most prominent Puerto Rican rappers of the early ’90s. 

With their shared Puerto Rican heritage, alongside a group of friends, having successfully found Fat Joe, Rios decided to wait for the rapper outside a Bronx bodega. When Fat Joe exited the Bodega, Pun asked him if he could rap for him, which he did, and, as the head of a crew, Joe made Pun the face of the Terror Squad. 

As the face of the Terror Squad, Big Pun signed with Loud Records in 1997 and released his debut album, Capital Punishment, the following year. Capital Punishment debuted at number five on the Billboard 200 and was certified as platinum by the RIAA. Furthermore, it was even nominated for a Grammy but ended up losing to Jay-Z’s Vol 2…Hardknock Life. With such legendary status it is only right that we look back on the late rapper’s discography to determine his top five tracks ever.

The five best Big Pun tracks ever made:

5. ‘Ms. Martin’, Yeeeah Baby (2000)

Big Pun was the individual who discovered Bronx female rapper Remy Ma (formerly known as Remy Martin). Introduced to Rios by a rapper named Sunkiss. In a bid to impress Pun, she freestyled for approximately an hour. As soon as she stopped, Pun inducted her into the Terror Squad, and two weeks later, she featured on Big Pun’s album.

Recorded in 1999, ‘Ms. Martin’ is a cover of DMX’s 1998 major-label debut single ‘Get At Me Dog’ that features both Pun and Remy Ma. One of the album’s best tracks, unfortunately, Rios would die shortly after the album was released in 2000 as a result of an obesity-related cardiac arrest.

4. ‘I’m Not A Player’, Capital Punishment (1998)

This 1997 track was Big Pun’s debut album and was the lead single for his 1998 album Capital Punishment. Produced by Minnesota, the song samples ‘Darling Darling Baby’, a 1976 song by The O’Jays, which was a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 Soul Singles.

‘I’m Not A Player’ peaked at number 57 of the Billboard Hot 100 and was accompanied by an exciting music video. Inspired by the 1983 movie Scarface, the music video features appearances from Fat Joe, Noreaga, Cuban Link, Raekwon, Prodigy and even The O’Jays.

3. ‘It’s So Hard’ ft. Donell Jones, Yeeeah Baby (2000)

Recorded in 1999 and released in 2000, ‘It’s So Hard’ was set to be released in March of 2000. However, the rapper passed away in February of that year, making it the rapper’s first posthumous single. Featuring the R’n’B singer Donell Jones, the track was produced by the Grammy-nominated musician Younglord.

Following the rapper’s sudden death only a month prior to the release of the track, the song’s music video was a tribute to the rapper and featured an unfathomable amount of cameos. Artists such as LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, Xzibit, Diddy, Nas, Raekwon, Method Man, Fat Joe, Lil’ Kim, M.O.P., Missy Elliott, Noreaga, Jennifer Lopez, and a then-unknown DJ Khaled all appeared in the video, to name a few.

The track has become loved as a classic tribute song.

2. ‘Still Not A Player’ ft Joe, Capital Punishment (1998)

One of Pun’s most successful tracks, ‘Still Not A Player’ is really what Big Pun on the map with regard to hip-hop. The track, with its catchy piano melody, had mainstream appeal, and with the added vocals of popular R’n’B Joe, it was extremely popular. First heard by DJ Funkmaster Flex in a Philadelphia club, the New York DJ proceeded to play it on his HOT97 mainstream radio show.

As one of the most popular hip-hop shows in the New York tri-sate area the song garnered much attention from New York hip-hop heads and would go on to become a hit nationwide. Released as the second single for Pun’s debut album, the track’s main melody is based around ‘A Little Bit Of Love’ by singer Brenda Russell.

The song peaked at number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the most successful single ever released by Big Pun. In 2000, Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg played the song while performing on their Up in Smoke Tour.

1. ‘Twinz (Deep Cover 98)’ ft Fat Joe, Capital Punishment (1998)

‘Twinz’ is undoubtedly Big Pun’s best song of all time. A cover of the 1992 Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg single ‘Deep Cover’, ‘Twinz’ features Big Pun and Fat Joe rapping back to back. The song shows Pun exhibit next-level lyricism that was unparalleled at the time.

Both rappers brought a New York edge to the Dr Dre produced track and revived a classic. Originally featured on Dr Dre’s album, The Chronic, ‘Deep Cover’ was a well-known track with a signature instrumental. However, Big Pun approached the beat in an entirely new way, making the song even more potent than the original.

The track, which was not even a single, received such an incredible amount of airplay in New York that the two rappers filmed a music video for the track that even sees Snoop Dogg make an appearance, the rapper who featured on the original 1992 version of the track.

‘Twinz’ is such an iconic track that Fat Joe performed it alongside Remy Ma for their 2021 ‘versuz’ performance against Queens crew Murder Inc headed by Ja Rule. During the performance Remy Ma took on the part of Big Pun and (discarding a few words) managed to deliver the complex, tongue-twisting verses line for line. The track is truly iconic and the 2021 performance was too a spectacle. You can watch the music video and it’s 2021 live rendition in the video below.