Big L, the Harlem-reppin’, punchline spittin’ heavyweight of hip-hop, brushed shoulders with some real giants in the game before his untimely passing. His collaborative efforts mirror the undeniable prowess and authority his solo work commanded, partnering with the likes of lyrical titans such as 2Pac, Big Daddy Kane, and Fat Joe. Not to mention his integral role in D.I.T.C., where his raw verbal ferocity meshed seamlessly with A.G., and his knack for unflinching storytelling saw him hold it down alongside Miss Jones and Stan Spit.
Whether it was his cutting wordplay atop Bink’s remixes, or his defining contributions to the culture with discerning acts like Gang Starr, Big L was never one to shy away from laying down unfettered verses. He blessed 9th Wonder’s remixes with his succinct style and acute lyricism, and even when the dice game got casual, L managed to keep it strictly grimy. Let’s not forget his connection with Kool G Rap, their shared affinity for raw, unfiltered narratives creating magic on wax.
- Miss Jones
- Stan Spit
- Fat Joe
- 9th Wonder
- Big Daddy Kane
- Kool G Rap
- Gang Starr
Every one of these collaborations captured a different facet of Big L’s wide-ranging skill set, solidifying him as a versatile force to be reckoned with. In the end, it wasn’t just about the heavyweights he rapped alongside, but how he held his own and often stole the show.
So let’s get into the collaborations list. From “5 Fingers of Death” to “Deadly Combination,” here are the Best of 10 Big L Collaborations, Ranked from Worst to Best.
10. 5 Fingers of Death (feat. D.I.T.C.)
This cut is a cypher-style track, where each artist takes a turn spitting their hardest bars over a gritty beat. Big L’s verse oozes confidence and menace, as he narrates his street exploits with unapologetic bravado. His fellow D.I.T.C. members, including A.G. and Fat Joe, continue the narrative with their own interpretations of street life, each bringing their unique lyricism and flow to the track.
9. Holdin’ It Down (feat. A.G., Miss Jones & Stan Spit)
Big L shows us his prowess and coldness, painting a vivid picture of his lifestyle in the concrete jungle of Harlem. He flexes his lyrical muscles, talking about dressing fancy, spending big on drinks, and outsmarting his competition. The song shows a unique blend of bragging rights, street smarts, and a quick wit that cements Big L’s reputation as a sharp rapper.
8. Da Enemy – Bink Remix
This joint’s a hard look into life in the trenches of Harlem. Our boy L comes with straight fire, serving up those guttural lines we all know him for, coupled with cold truths about the gritty world he’s emerged from. Delivered in L’s signature flow, the track is raw and unflinching, as he pulls no punches in his lyrical depiction of life on the streets.
7. Casualties Of A Dice Game – 9th Wonder Remix
Big L, real name Lamont Coleman, takes us on a roller coaster through Harlem’s backstreets, delving deep into the psyche of a man embroiled in illicit gambling. This dice game spirals into violent, life-altering consequences, the casualties of which are not limited to loss of money, but innocence, trust, friendship, and ultimately, life.
6. Furious Anger
Flanked by Shyheim of the Wu-Tang extended family, Big L navigates the rugged terrains of life in New York City with a tenacity that’s both engaging and somewhat chilling. The lyrics serve as a harsh chronicle of street life, exploring themes of violence, crime, and retribution. Big L’s lyrics are standoffish and confrontational – he pulls no punches and straight-up calls out the fronting and foolishness he sees in his world.
5. Platinum Plus (feat. Big Daddy Kane)
From the get-go, Big L stomps the beat, declaring his takeover of the streets under his Flamboyant Entertainment brand. His lyrics give us a raw glimpse into his life, unabashedly laying down his reality. He flexes his wealth, dismisses his detractors, and affirms his indifference towards societal norms. Big L’s flavor is complemented by Big Daddy Kane’s verse, delivering a smooth yet firm way of life.
4. Fall Back (feat. Kool G Rap)
The track is all about flexing, with Big L asserting his dominance over the rap game, the streets, and even his adversaries’ girlfriends. Notable for its savage bravado, Big L’s verse shows his flawless flow and unsurpassed knack for punchlines.
3. Work, Pt. II (feat. Gang Starr)
On this track, Big L spits his rhymes with fiery intensity, reflecting his larger-than-life persona. The lyrics weave a vivid tapestry of his hustle and the relentless grind of the streets – it’s about putting in the work, elevating status, and striving for victory while simultaneously navigating the dangers of the urban condition.
2. The Enemy (feat. Fat Joe)
Big L’s verses vividly encapsulate the struggles of navigating a system that seems designed to keep him down, despite his aspirations for legitimate success. His lyrics paint a picture of a man prematurely judged for his affluence and lifestyle, often mistaken for criminal activity. Meanwhile, Fat Joe’s verse complements Big L’s theme by recounting his own journey from illicit activities to legal business ventures. He acknowledges the challenges faced while trying to transition from the streets to business – a message often resonating within the hip-hop community.
1. Deadly Combination (feat. 2Pac)
Big L opens the track with quick-witted rhymes that compare his prowess to titans of the game like Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z (a.k.a Shawn Carter), before launching into a critique of fake street hustlers who don’t live the life they rap about. From buying out the bar in nightclubs, to having a lifestyle others dream about, he gives a detailed account of the ‘fly’ life he’s living.
Next up, 2Pac takes the mic, painting a vivid picture of his own struggle. His verses talk about violence, paranoia and survival. He raps about living in constant danger and the need to always be armed, reflecting the grim reality of the streets that he’s trapped in. His wariness of snitches and his mistrust of authority, particularly towards then-Mayor Giuliani, signify his defiance.
‘Deadly Combination’ is, as the name suggests, a lethal pairing of two rap giants giving us a glimpse into their world, mixing street-level wisdom with boastful swagger. The song is a reminder of the tremendous talent that was snuffed out too soon in both rappers’ lives, leaving fans to only wonder what more could have been.