"I just lost a hundred pounds/I'm trying to live."Like a prior generation with JFK's death, I remember exactly where I was when I learned of Pun's passing. I had just copped the Post from the deli in Broome and was walking up Centre past Hoomos Asli. Of course, the Post wrote the story up humorosly. And I admit, I kinda chuckled at the news. It wasn't exactly a surprise at that point as the word was that he was close to 700 pounds. A few years later, we saw him in his last film role in "Urban Menace," motionless in his chair in every scene, wheezing his words like a sad Don Corleone or Muttley the cartoon dog. Which makes the words and feeling of "It's So Hard" so poignant. No mention of Big Pun and his legacy is complete without the sad, shocking and infamous story of him pistol-whipping his wife.
There's no doubt that his brand of catchy, poppy street rap would have propelled him to great success in the 2000s had he lived. He had mainstream appeal, yet was so well thought of by true heads that myths multiplied about rhyme books he left behind. Fat Joe himself was forced to defend himself against allegations that he built his career on ghost-written Pun rhymes on the (sincerely) epic Ja Rule/Fat Joe/Jadakiss track "New York."
There's no doubt that Fat Joe enjoyed a late-career renaissance in the years following his one-time protege's passing. And there's no doubt that every rapper since that has parlayed street cred into mainstream club-bangers owes him a debt.