Born May 30, 1974 in a section of uptown Harlem known as "The Danger Zone," Lamont (Big L) Coleman parlayed a natural wit and ability to rhyme into a hip-hop career that promised better things to come. In 1995, Big L caught the eye of major label Columbia Records and released Lifestyles Ov Da Poor and Dangerous containing the tracks "MVP" ("Most Valuable Poet"), "8 Iz Enuff," "All Black," and "Da Graveyard" featuring the then unknown Jay-Z. Unable to capture Big L's street smart style, Columbia dropped him after the record tanked. Loved by the hip-hop underground, Big L joined the Bronx-based group D.I.T.C. (Diggin' in the Crates) in the summer of 1998 and appeared in concerts in Amsterdam and Japan. Back in New York City, he had recently released the single "Ebonics" on his own Flamboyant Entertain ment label when the talented and likable 24-year-old was gunned down just three blocks from his home in Harlem. At 8:30 P.M. on February 15, 1999, Big L was walking near the corner of Lenox Avenue and 139th Street when a man approached him and pumped nine shots into the rapper's face and chest killing him instantly. As neighbors and fans created a makeshift memorial to the MC at the spot where he fell at 45 West 139th Street, detectives discounted the murder as a continuation of the East Coast and West Coast rap wars sus pecting instead that the motive for the hit stemmed from a street beef between Big L's incarcerated brother, "Big Lee," and the gunman. In May 1999, Harlem resident Gerard Woodley, 29, on the lam from a federal drug indictment, was arrested in the Bronx and charged with murdering the rapper. Woodley, a childhood friend of the Coleman brothers, was later released due to insufficient evidence. At the time of this book's publication, no one has been arrested for Big L's murder.