“How We Roll (feat. Ashanti)” by Big Pun displays the rapper’s claim to fame, flirting with themes of living large, hustlin’, and his roots in the streets. Big Pun flexes his lyricism in showcasing his transformation from street hustler to rap star, along with expressing his unyielding loyalty to his crew.
The hook by Ashanti sets the ground, emphasizing Big Pun’s big presence in the game. “Big Pun be the largest thang / Straight out of the projects / And that’s how we roll, roll.” The phrase “largest thang” reflects not just Pun’s physical size, but his massive presence in the hip-hop scene. The projects he refers to are the low-income housing areas, often associated with crime, where he hails from, giving a nod to his humble beginnings.
In the first verse, Big Pun showcases his lavish lifestyle which is a common theme in the genre. “I’m well known like Al Capone, fully blown like Ton’ Montana / In a zone, sittin’ on chrome, stoned sippin’ on champagne.” Here, he’s comparing himself to notorious figures, Al Capone and Tony Montana, underlining his street credibility. “Sittin’ on chrome” alludes to his flashy ride decked out with chrome rims, while “sippin’ on champagne” is a metaphor for his opulent lifestyle.
Beyond flaunting his wealth, Pun reveals the scrappy hustle that got him there. The line “I make the kind of green a hustler dream” signifies his accomplishment in the drug trade. His success in the street hustle funded his luxurious life, as captured in “Rollin ganja up in bible papers, see how high the lye can take us / Through the eyes of Christ, John, Elijah, Jacob.” These lines unmask his past of selling weed using bible papers as a wrapper, depicting the depths of his struggle.
Verse two gives a view into Big Pun’s transformation. His line “I’ve been a killer and a drug dealer, a bugged nigga / But now I’m like Puffy ’cause money’s thicker than blood player”, signifies his transition from criminal activities to rap stardom, akin to Puff Daddy’s success. He uses “blood player” to reveal that he’s thicker in terms of wealth and influence in the game, not letting blood ties hold him back.
Big Pun doesn’t leave out his gritty side, reminding us that despite success, he still carries the street with him: “I keep my Desert Eagle cocked back in my tuxedo with my top hat.” The Desert Eagle, a powerful handgun, serves as a symbol of his readiness to defend himself and his crew.
Throughout the song, Big Pun brings back the hook, maintaining the assertion that he is “the largest thang” to come from the projects, reinforcing the narrative of his triumph over adversity and rise to the top of the hip-hop sphere.
In the final verse, Big Pun goes full throttle about wealth accumulation and his expensive tastes: “I want a watch with baguetted rocks / So I can clock hoes with the glow that never stops.” This highlights the heights of his ambitions and how he uses his wealth as a symbol of power.
Ultimately, “How We Roll (feat. Ashanti)” offers an unfiltered glimpse into Big Pun’s life, from the struggle, hustle to the rise and shine. Through clever wordplay and vivid imagery, he crafts an enjoyable tale of success, while always staying true to his roots. The melding of the economic hardship of the projects with the extravagant lifestyle of a rap star has made this song a hip-hop classic, and a testament to Big Pun’s legacy.