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Meaning of the song ‘Put It On’ by ‘Big L’

Released: 1995

“Put It On” by Big L is a testament to his lyrical prowess and unforgiving e street-wise persona, all in true New York City rap style. Throughout the song, Big L conveys his toughness, extraordinary talent, and unrelenting swagger, while also giving nods to his crew and the city that shaped him. His message to the world is loud and clear: He’s here to change the game, assert his dominance, and truly ‘Put It On’ in the world of hip-hop.

In the first two verses, Big L is all about establishing his stature in the rap game. When he raps, “Ayo, you better flee hops, or get your head flown three blocks,” he’s pretty much telling rivals to stay in their lane or face serious consequences. He confidently proclaims his influence on the rap scene, using the term “gain clout,” referring to his growing reputation and influence.

He also humorously brags about his prowess with women, comparing them to well-known personalities like Toni Braxton and Whoopi to add vivid imagery. When he raps, “Got 35 bodies, buddy, don’t make it 36,” Big L is speaking metaphorically about his lyrical victims, indicating he has “killed” 35 MCs in rap battles and he’s ready to take on the 36th without hesitation.

The rap’s chorus, “So put it on, Big L, put it on! Come on, put it on, and onnn, and on!” is a compelling call to action, a self-affirming mantra for Big L to continue laying down bars and asserting his presence. It’s a shout-out to his own talent and the power of his words.

The third verse honours those who have lost their lives, saying “Peace to my homies in the gangsta lean, I see you when I get there,” refering to friends who have been killed due to the violent and dangerous lifestyle in Harlem. His blatant lines about crime and violence “I’m known to pull steel trigs and kill pigs” represent a resistance and resentment towards law enforcement, a common theme in early 90s hip-hop music, which reflected the social reality of many African American communities.

Ending the song with a shoutout session, he pays respect to his contemporaries in the rap game, acknowledging others who are also “putting it on,” a testament to his respect for the wider hip-hop community. Artists like Lord Finesse, Fat Joe, Showbiz and A.G., Diamond D, are all greeted with respect – showing that while Big L is confident and assertive, he also recognizes and appreciates the talent of his peers.

All in all, “Put It On” captures the essence of Big L’s style: fiercely competitive, supremely confident, always ready to claim his spot, never shy to pay respects where they’re due. Even though he’s always ‘putting it on’, he doesn’t forget the family and the city that made him who he is.

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