Dead rapper week lingers on with the one and only son of Tony Montana. 11 years ago yesterday, Chris Rio went ham for his last time, proving the deleterious effects of cash, swine, and 700 lbs. worth of cholesterol. By dint of his untimely death, Pun gets the red carpet rolled out each year, despite a slim discography that consists of a single classic, a disappointing sophomore effort, and a farrago of dream-shattering cameos.
Then again, that never stopped the Internet mine squads from lionizing Biggie as the greatest to do it. And in accordance with the aggrandizing testimonials on DJ Soul’s new Pun tribute, Pun deserves entrance to that great rapper Valhalla in the clouds (Flavor Flav is the official haberdasher.) Truly great rappers accumulate disciples not fans, and I’d wager that if you ask the average Big Pun apostle, he’d say that Pun never spit a wack verse.
I’ll include myself in that fan club (members receive discounts on beds with BP carved on the board heard, a cubano sandwich made from Cuban Link’s family recipe, and the option of frolicking in the sunshine with Tony Sunshine — he’s got all the time in the world). Pun rapped like a Harlem globetrotter toying with a basketball, syllables spinning at dizzying speeds, introspection blotted out by a cruel lust for blood. Planting Kool G Rap uptown with Boriqua slang, Pun had Hitmen alumni Sean C to ensure that he had the songs to crossover. He was a corpulent killer with Santa Claus charisma.
The first Latin rapper with a platinum plaque, Capitol Punishment scored a Grammy nomination, a bizarre notion to consider today when Drake’s milquetoast foot-wash rap set will probably dazzle every ancient Academy voter. Pun was an underground rhymer at a time when that wasn’t a perjorative. He could make songs with both Joe’s (Fat and Skinny), MOP, and hold his own against Prodigy, Deck, and Black Thought. Accordingly, his impact is most saliently felt among the subterraneans. Joell Ortiz and Termanology have built entire careers on attempts at emulation, but they lack the snarl and swagger.
Pun rapped like he hit the dinner table, with unhinged abandon and lust for words. He was a rap Slimer, taking entire plates of food the same way he’d scarf 16s, massive quantities of verbs and calories downed in seconds. There will never be another Chris Rios. We know this. No one else was nice enough to make Moesha faint.