May 15, 2000 12:00 PM

Big Pun (Loud)

Even in a musical community that has grown all too accustomed to tragedy, the death of Big Pun hit hard. The late rapper (real name Christopher Rios), who died at age 28 of apparent heart failure in New York on Feb. 7, was on the verge of superstardom. Pun’s 1998 debut, Capital Punishment, earned the Bronx native a Grammy nomination and sold more than a million copies. He was the first Latino rapper to achieve either goal. His pride in his Puerto Rican heritage is especially evident on salsa-flavored tracks like “100%.” Although he weighed more than 600 lbs., Pun often cast himself as a rugged lover man, and his sometimes raunchy rhymes, as on “I’m Laughing at You,” are both witty and provocative. On the R&B-flavored “It’s So Hard,” he calls out, “I just lost 100 lbs.! I’m trying to live, I ain’t going nowhere!” Would that it were true.

Bottom Line: Funky, savvy elegy to a fallen star

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