In 1995 Lamont ‘Big L’ Coleman dropped the underrated gem Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous. While the album wasn’t a huge commercial succes, its status only grew over the years. Close to twenty years after, on the day of All Hallow’s Eve, it seemed appropriate to revisit the album’s iconic posse track produced by DITC’s Buckwild. From the height of the horrorcore era comes… Da Graveyard!
The Big L be lightin’ niggas like incense
Gettin’ men lynched and when tensed I’m killin’ infants for ten cents
Big L was a rapper in a league of his own. As gifted in his writing of punchlines and similes as he was in switching cadence and dropping rhythmically astounding flows, his brash delivery and fearless lyrics caused many rewind buttons to be hit in the ’90s. His debut album wasn’t a huge commercial succes (though it did numbers some would kill for nowadays), but gained much traction in the years after its release as L’s prominence in the game grew and he became the most respected lyricist in the DITC crew. On this track Big L opened with an assault of threats both creative and assuredly spit, setting the tone but also becoming a hard act to follow. When it comes to verbal dexterity, the verse is only matched by a certain Brooklynite on here.
A freestyle lyrical sparring session with Jay-Z on the Wake-Up Show caught many ears and he was and in talks with Damon Dash to become part of Roc-a-Fella in the late ’90s. All set for stardom, he tragically passed away when he was hit in a driveby-shooting on February 15th, 1999.
Now it’s the dictator who’s style is greater
It’s the man with more wild flavors than motherfuckin’ Now & Laters
There are few in the game who can match Finesse’s longevity in the game. Scoring an early classic in 1989 together with DJ Mike Smooth in their debut album Funky Technician, he has remained a stalwart figure in rap ever since. As the pillar of the DITC crew, Finesse was the one who decided to bring L into the fold and mentor the young emcee towards a promising career. Though far from a slouch on the mic, his debut album title already hinted towards a strong propensity for headnod-inducing work behind the boards. Something that grew to become the dominant aspect in his career through later years as his career as a vocalist took a backseat to his work as a beatsmith. He takes pride in his crate diggin’ (hence the name of the crew) and was embroiled in a legal dispute about the use of his classic Hip 2 Da Game beat by Mac Miller, which he considered biting, earlier this year.
Because to me death is like sex
And if my brain was a deck of cards I’d be missing a whole deck
Little is known about Microphone Nut. One can assume he was someone Big L knew from the street and respected as an emcee, as L was adamant about giving unknown guys a shot, but not if he thought they weren’t ready for it. “L just thought he had to do a track with the rappers from his hood” Lord Finesse stated in an interview with HipHopDX back in 2010, referring to the track ’8 Iz Enuff,’ the other posse cut from the album. When he asked him in the late ’90s why Mase wasn’t involved with that track, since Cam’ron and Herb McGruff, other members of the Children of the Corn crew along with Mase and Big L,were, he replied: “Mase wasn’t rhyming nothing like how he rhymes now. That was a different Mase [back in '92].”
It stands to reason then that L thought Nut had what it took to “send garbage emcees to the graveyard,” despite being the only one on the track without much recording experience under his belt. While Microphone Nut didn’t dissapoint on this cut, he was never propelled to stardom or at least notoriety like the others. When we reached out to Lord Finesse to ask him if he had any inclination to what happened to the Nut afterwards, he wondered about it as much as we do: “Good Question. You got me with that?” Seems like his line “The Microphone Nut flew over the prison walls without a clue” turned out to be prophetic.
Creep through your block, fuck a Glock, I step
Through your neighborhood armed with nothing but a rep
A little over a year after a then relatively unknown rapper named Jay-Z caught a break by being invited to spit with Big L on his debut album he decided to stop his street hustle and go legit, capitalizing on his talent for rapping by releasing his own debut album through a label he founded with two friends. The label was called Roc-a-Fella Records and their first album was Reasonable Doubt. It went pretty well. Jay married a singer by the name of Beyonce Knowles a few years ago and they’re now raising their daughter who was born in 2011.
I’m lethal, eatin’ people
Not Jeffery Dahmer, I’m the sequel, Head or Gut like Illegal
The most horror-tinged verse on the track next to L’s own comes from Party Arty, a prominent member of the extended family of the DITC crew who appeared on many tracks with its members alongside D-Flow, the other half of the duo Ghetto Dwellas that he was a part of. He never released a solo album but appeared on no less than half of the tracks of A.G.’s 1999 solo album The Dirty Version. He passed away on December 4th of 2008, due to unknown health complications.
You tried to play me to the left
You better put a target on your head
‘Cause you’re marked for death
Grand Daddy I.U.
Often miscredited as YU when this song is discussed, the last verse belongs to no other than Cold Chillin’ emcee and onetime Biz Markie protege Grand Daddy I.U., who explained the origin of his name (and the incessant misspelling and mispronunciation) in an interview with Unkut: “My real name is Ayub, which is Arabic. That means ‘Joab’ from the Bible. But if you look at that shit on paper you can’t pronounce it properly. The teachers and everybody would always say some dumb shit – ‘Eye-Ub’ or some shit like that. I never liked that shit so I just put ‘I Dot U Dot’ so you could pronounce my shit properly.”
I.U. has ghostwritten lyrics for Biz Markie but the affair left a foul taste with him. During the ’90s he quit rapping and focused on his production work, although he did make a return to rapping with his 2007 album Stick To The Script, which you can stream for free through his Bandcamp page. His authority shines through in the way he closes the track. Although he hasn’t got the most crazily lyrical verse on here, the matter-of-fact tone in which he stated “you’re marked for death” made for a fittingly chilling finale.
So there it is, after all these years some of they may have gone on wildly differing routes or even crossed over to the other side, but they’re still remembered as “the number one crew in ya area” and “known for sending garbage emcees to the graveyard!”