I was doing what I do best lately (not finishing this Fulbright application) and I ended up doing some interesting free association viewing on Youtube. It all started at the Complex site, which has a feature on the best mixtape albums of the past decade. The audio featured from the # 3 tape, 2002’s The Diplomats Vol. 1, is a Cam track dissing Harlem rapper Stan Spit (and really doing some serious damage.) Probably the most lethal line is “You fucked my man Big L album up,” a reference to Spit’s appearances on L’s posthumous LP The Big Picture. But what really caught my attention was Cam’s mention of a video. I didn’t know there were any videos from that album, so I tracked down the above clip. Cam ain’t lie, Stan Spit is nothing special, but A.G. does his thing and Pete Rock comes through with an idiosyncratic banger. Clip features appearances from Premier and Showbiz (I think; the resolution is so shitty it’s hard to tell) but I wonder where the rest of the Crates Crew was at. Shit got me wanting to see some live footage of L, which brought me to this gem from a European tour:
As well as this goldmine of an interview/freestyle session with L, A.G., and D.I.T.C. affiliates D-Flow and Party Arty (R.I.P):
That first clip should be required viewing for anyone claiming Big L is “supremely overrated.” Come on man, this dude had style and presence galore. The second boasts a pretty in-depth interview with L (it’s crazy how softspoken he was) and some very dope freestyles. Call me old-school, but there’s really nothing fucking with this style and era of New York rap. Anyway, in the interview L mentions fellow Harlem spitter Herb McGruff, who had just put out his own solo album. I’ve always wondered about that joint; McGruff is a talented vet (he goes back to the Children of the Corn Days with Mase, L, and Killa Cam) but from all accounts his album was pretty mediocre. It did boast at least one banger though. Funny how L says in the interview that he had trouble adjusting to the jiggy era, and then his man makes a video (“This Is How We Do”) that’s basically the definition of the term. And yes, that’s Big L dancing in that shiny jacket. I guess we should be glad he never joined Harlem World.
And finally, here’s footage from the recent 1st annual Big L mural dedication in Harlem. Cameos from Finesse, Stan Spit, and Herb McGruff, as well as DJ Premier and L’s brother Donald. Emotional stuff.