On this day, Feb. 15, in hip-hop history...

Rawkus Records

1999: On Feb. 15, 1999, New York rapper Big L was fatally gunned down in his hometown neighborhood of Harlem. Before his untimely death, his 1995 debut album, Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous, quickly positioned the Harlem-bred MC, born Lamont Coleman, as a dominant figure in rap during the 1990s in New York.

As an affiliate to Empire State MCs like Cam’ron, Fat Joe, Ma$e and more, L was considered a rising star and hometown hero. He was a true wordsmith, able to paint vivid pictures of street stories with biting lyrical wit and humor.

Unfortunately, Big L was robbed of his life and opportunity of true stardom. On Feb. 15, 1999, the rapper was shot nine times in the face and chest in a drive-by shooting while standing outside on 45 W. 139th St. in Harlem. He was 24 years old.

Though it goes without saying that L was gone too soon, his legacy has definitely lived on in hip-hop. A year after his death, Big L's sophomore album, The Big Picture, was posthumously released in August 2000 to critical acclaim. In June 2016, Big L's accused killer was shot and killed in the same Harlem streets.

R.I.P. Big L.

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