Christopher Lee Rios, who became well known by his stage name, Big Pun, was a celebrated rapper and actor who emerged to prominence from the underground hip hop scene. His rise was so quick and impressive that his death, at age 28, of a heart attack on Feb. 7, 2000, was a shock to many in the music and entertainment industry.
He was ranked No. 25 on the list of the 50 Greatest MCs of all time by About.com, with MTV2 ranking him as No. 11. The Source magazine ranked him No. 19 on their list of the top 50 lyricists of all time.
Big Pun was born in the Bronx and gained the attention of people in the industry as a result of his raps in the 1990s. His song "I'm Not a Player,” featuring a sample by the O'Jays, became an underground hit. His debut recording Capital Punishment was released in 1998 and was the first album by a solo Latino rapper to go platinum, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard 200. That album was nominated for a Grammy Award.
His second recording, “Yeeeah Baby,” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard chart and earned gold record status three months after it was released. That recording was released after Big Pun’s death, which occurred in White Plains, New York.
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(Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)