A Look Back: Stretch Armstrong, Bobbito, And Brother Donald Phinazee Remember Big L
On the anniversary of his death, VIBE looks back at a few of Big L's peers as they remember one of best rappers ever to bless the mic.
Rest In Peace Lamont Coleman aka Big L (May 30, 1974 - February 15, 1999)
The iconic on-air duo reflects on bringing two future rap legends together on the mic
I’ll be honest with you, that night is not truly vivid in my head because at the moment it wasn’t really any different than the myriad of shows Stretch and I did over eight years. We had no idea Big L was going to be as exalted as he is now. We had no idea Jay-Z was going to be a platinum artist. In ’95, these dudes were just up-and-coming cats, no different than Kage or Pharoahe Monch.
We already had Nas on the show three times before Illmatic came out, Redman, Poetical Propets, who became Mobb Deep—so many cats who came up there unsigned that wound up changing the face of the rap industry. But there were enough people that came up and rocked it, that didn’t go anywhere. So we knew this has potential, but it wasn’t like, Oh my god, people are going to remember this freestyle for the next 15 years! It was more like, OK, I’m fucking tired, Stretch is fucking tired, it’s 2:30 a.m., we gotta rock ‘til 5 a.m., and we got two nasty motherfuckers.
Big L’s oldest brother Donald Phinazee reflects on the lost legend
There were always rumors that L was going to sign with Rocafella. Do you remember Jay-Z and Dame coming around?
Jay and Dame came to get L every weekend. I grew up with Dame and the older heads. Right before he got killed, L was with Jay-Z every single weekend. He was going to sign with them around the same time Lee got knocked. Dame would get Jay and come to scoop L, personally.
Do you think L was sure about signing with Rocafella?
Lamont didn’t want to just sign himself. He wanted Herb Mcgruff and one other dude to sign with him. But Jay just wanted him at the time. See, L was trying to get his mans in with him. He didn’t want to come back for them. But I was telling him to sign with Jay and get you own label popping. He was just such a loyal dude. They were in talks, but they couldn’t agree on L bringing his boys with him. He refused to leave his people behind. I think they would have worked something out, but L’s life got cut short.
Continue 'Big L's Brother Talks New 'Return of The Devil's Son' LP, Roc-A-Fella Recruitment & Mase'