Puerto Rican hip hop legend the late Big Punisher aka Big Pun, born Christopher Lee Rios was honored in his home turf of the Boogie Down Bronx. The larger-than-life artist who paved the way for many Latino hip hop artists was recognized by city officials in front of his family and beloved fans as the famous intersection in the Bronx, Fordham Road and Grand Concourse was renamed, “Big Pun Plaza.”
Big Pun was discovered by another Puerto Rican Bronx legend, rapper Fat Joe. He made an appearance on Fat Joe’s album, Jealous Ones Envy in 1995. His incredible flow scheme, tongue twisters and legendary lyrics continue to inspire a generation of hip hop followers and artists alike. He was the first Latino solo rap artist to go platinum in 1998 with his debut album Capital Punishment. In 1999, that album was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Album. Sadly in 2000, at just 28 years-old, Big Pun passed away due to a cardiac arrest.
“It had to happen in the most famous, the most important intersection in the entire Bronx because this is where the family and Big Pun used to walk around here in the Bronx.” – said, City Councilman Fernando Cabrera who sponsored the legislation for the name change.
A well deserved and long overdue recognition for one of the greatest MC’s to have ever lived and impact the hip hop culture. Big Pun’s legacy will reign forever and celebrated at Big Pun’s Plaza one of the most iconic intersections in New York.
Written by: Felix Rodriguez
We got a chance to speak with Felix the photographer behind the amazing photos at this iconic moment on the day he was immortalized. Get into the interview below.
What does Big Pun mean to hip-hop in your opinion?
In my humble opinion, Big Pun’s style of rhyming and wordplay was like no other. Big Pun was the type of artist that will made other artists stretch their boundaries. He set the bar high whenever he blessed the mic. This is evident with Capital Punishment, which is still considered one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.
What kind of legacy did he leave behind?
While his time on earth was cut short, his impact is forever lasting. The world got to see Big Pun with his smash hit “Still Not A Player” featuring Joe. I still recall I would always carry a Puerto Rican flag folded in my back pocket wherever me and my friends went clubbing. When this song came on and that brilliant line, Boricua, morena bumped repeatedly, I would pulled out my PR flag and waved it proudly while dancing. He made Puerto Rican’s and Latinos proud. Hip-Hop was born in the Bronx and Big Pun took the culture to another level while rising the Puerto Rican and Latino communities with him.
How was it capturing the moments he was immortalized on camera?
When I first learned of the renaming ceremony, I knew I needed to be there. I wanted to capture that historic moment. It was a beautiful tribute to one of hip-hops greatest MC’s. Big Pun and his family deserve the honor and long overdue recognition. It was a celebration and reflection for a man who was larger than life. As a photographer, I wanted to play a small role to ensure Big Pun’s renaming ceremony was documented.
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