June 21, 2007

Big Punisher - Capital Punishment (April 28, 1998)

Christopher Rios, known to the hip hop community as Big Punisher, known to his mother as Christopher Rios, was a Puerto Rican rapper from the Bronx that did everything he could to boost the status of Latinos in the rap game before his passing in 2001, which is why I get so angry when I hear Fat Joe ruining things for everyone on the radio with that "Make It Rain" bullshit. Joe actually discovered Big Pun and inserted him onto his own album, Jealous One's Envy, before getting him a deal of his own, with the mighty Loud Records, home of Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang, and Megadeth (seriously).

The debut, Capital Punishment, was the only album released while Pun was still alive. (I didn't realize this until I researched the release date.) Buoyed by the mainstream success of the second single "Still Not A Player" (I can still recall a time when the video was played on MTV all the damn time, and it was always mislabeled as "Still Not A Player Featuring Joe"), Big Pun became the first Latino rapper to hit platinum, back in a time when album sales were still a valid measurement of how many copies were obtained by the listening public. Pun threw everything he had into his debut, including songs for the ladies, for the gangstas who lean back in the clubs instead of admitting they like to dance (jazz hands!), for East Coast freaks, for West Coast fiends, and I'm sure even my grandmother liked a couple of songs off of it as well. (She's very liberal that way.)

It's widely considered to be a hip hop classic, but we all know that doesn't mean shit to me. This was one of those CDs that I ran out to purchase the day it was released, but I don't remember even liking the singles that were on the radio at the time. Must have been a slow week for hip hop, I guess.

1. INTRO
The next rap album that doesn't feature a rap album intro may get an automatic "Buy".

2. BEWARE
Beatnuts production, and a Prodigy vocal sample from a Mobb Deep track that more than half of their own fans have never heard? (That would be "Shook Ones", the original version, by the way.) Not a bad way to start off.

3. SUPER LYRICAL (FEAT BLACK THOUGHT)
Black Thought (from The Roots) is one of my favorite rappers, but damned if he doesn't sound awful on every guest appearance outside of his own camp. For such an obese man, though, Pun's breath control is impressive.

4. TASTER'S CHOICE (SKIT)
A ridiculous sex skit, mandatory on most rap albums. Useless.

5. STILL NOT A PLAYER (FEAT JOE)
I may not have thought much of this single in 1998, but listening to it now, it's actually pretty entertaining, in a "club song for the chicks" way. The version here is the clean radio version, though; you can find the dirty version on Pun's posthumous Endangered Species album.

6. INTERMISSION
Sounds like the theme to a gullier 60 Minutes. What the hell is it doing on the album?

7. THE DREAM SHATTERER
Battle rap at its finest. This version is brought to you by Domingo and the letter "A" (for "Awesome"); the original, unreleased song was produced by Large Professor. (His beat can be found on his Beats, Vol. 1 instrumental album.)

8. PUNISH ME (FEAT MISS JONES)
Radio friendly piffle. You probably should just skip this one.

9. PAKINAMAC PT. 1 (SKIT)
One-third of this album is made up of skits and interludes. That's never a good sign.

10. YOU AIN'T A KILLER
Simplistic beat, but Pun is killing me with the rhymes at this point. I'm pretty sure this song first appeared on the soundtrack to Soul In The Hole, which is apropos to nothing.

11. PAKINAMAC PT. II (SKIT)
All right, fine, this skit has a funny ending. That's still no excuse to include them at all. I'm pretty sure the only person who listens to rap albums straight through these days is me, and I only do that when writing a review, so...

12. CARIBBEAN CONNECTION (FEAT WYCLEF JEAN)
Sounds like what shit dreams of sounding like. Yes, it's that bad.

13. GLAMOUR LIFE (FEAT FAT JOE, TRIPLE SEIS, ARMAGEDDON, & CUBAN LINK)
Big Pun brings out his mentor and his Terror Squad cohorts/weed carriers, whom Fat Joe would adopt and fuck over shortly following Pun's death. Pun's the best one here, for those wondering, but I think Armageddon showed some promise at one point, especially after his solo shot on Fat Joe's Don Cartagena.

14. CAPITAL PUNISHMENT (FEAT PROSPECT)
Not a technically inept song, but very boring. Prospect sure isn't much of one.

15. UNCENSORED (SKIT) (FEAT FUNKMASTER FLEX)
Also "unneeded", "unnecessary", and "unfunny".

16. I'M NOT A PLAYER
Great use of the O'Jay's sample. Just like with its sequel above, I appreciate this song much more today than I did before.

17. TWINZ (DEEP COVER '98) (FEAT FAT JOE)
Joe and Pun steal the beat from Dr. Dre and Snoop's "Deep Cover" and make listeners suffer through an inferior "homage". About as effective as every mixtape rapper today rapping over classic Dre prescriptions.

18. THE RAIN & THE SUN (INTERLUDE) (FEAT DEAD PREZ)
Another unnecessary interlude, but I like the chilled-out sound of it.

19. BOOMERANG
The beats sound unnatural on this album, in that they sound way too creative for a hip hop record. Sure, Pun's delivery sounds good, but the beats are the rug that tie the whole room together.

20. YOU CAME UP (FEAT NOREAGA)
I believe this was a single, too. Too bad, since it sounds terrible.

21. TRES LECHES (TRIBORO TRILOGY) (FEAT PRODIGY & INSPECTAH DECK)
Otherwise known as the "Loud Records Sampler Song". Produced by (surprisingly to me when I read the liner notes in 1998) The Rza, who provides a track that sounds more like something Cypress Hill would rhyme over (it even uses the same sample as "Illusions"). Deck blows both of his collaborators out of the booth with his verse, but I like how Pun threatens to "call you gay on Hot 97", and it actually sounds menacing. Oh, and Prodigy's on here, too.

22. CHARLIE ROCK SHOUT (SKIT)
...

23. FAST MONEY
Crime rap. Not bad by any means, but this album is already too long as it is.

24. PARENTAL DISCRETION (FEAT BUSTA RHYMES)
Not very good at all, but it was produced by Showbiz (of Show and A.G.), and I'm happy he got a beat on a platinum-selling record.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Capital Punishment is an enjoyable listen almost consistently throughout, but I feel the "classic" qualifier is only being applied because the artist has passed away. People, this isn't Ready To Die. It is, however, a fine debut from a rapper who probably would have progressed to making crappier and crappier songs. If he were still alive today, Pun would most certainly have collaborated with Pitbull and Lil' Jon and the like. I don't know about you, but a small part of me is happy that we never have to hear Big Pun destroy his legacy like that. R.I.P.

BUY OR BURN? Because of Big Pun's amazing breath control, I would recommend you pick this one up. Try the used CD stores first, though.

BEST TRACKS: "Tres Leches (Triboro Trilogy)"; "The Dream Shatterer"; "Beware"

(Disagree with the above review? Leave a comment below! Don't be shy!)

-Max

31 comments:

  1. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessJune 22, 2007

    For the record, Cormega's albums are completely devoid of skits and intros. While it's true that they might as well be devoid of UPC symbols too, you should buy them and then review them. If it helps whet your appetite, he somewhat recently shared a bill at B.B. King's in NYC with Immortal Technique and Rakim. Now that I've said that, I will never again mention him on your site without provocation.

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  2. Feel the same way as you about this album Max. Some GREAT tracks and some serious throwaway cuts as well. No doubting the man's skills though...

    Nice one,

    Dan

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  3. Big Pun Dead and this author says its good because today he "may" sound wackJune 25, 2007

    HE IS THE BEST RHYMER HIS MULTIS ARE BIGGER THAN EMINEM OR BIGGIES.NOBODY HAS BIGGER MULTIS IN RAP AND NOT THIS CONSISTENTLY.

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  4. Agreed except for that part about the Deep Cover cover. They did a gret job of covering that record, much better than some mixtape yokel would with it. But yeah, I never got all the 'classic' talk. Good album yes, classic no.

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  5. pretty on point, good songs and some utter forgettable shit

    i loved parental advisory though and the deep cover 'cover'

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  6. bullshit review

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  7. Wow, I thought Black Thought sounded pretty damn good on "Super Lyrical". Oh, well...

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  8. AnonymousMay 07, 2008

    remember when joe said in between lines they had to stop so pun could breathe?...

    mr.childs

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  9. Sean JuanJuly 27, 2008

    Sometimes I agree completely with your assessments, but this one, not so much. Myself and most of the guys I talked hip hop w/ at the time thought this was a classic debut before Pun passed. Even the somewhat weaker tracks (even "Punish Me") become great due to Pun's dense lyrical ability (and yes, unbelievable breath control for his weight). Aside from the skits, I can listen to this album all the way through every couple of years.

    I feel the same as you about "I'm not a Player". I wasn't feeling it at first, but once I bought the album I was really feeling it. The sample is simple, but perfectly placed. As far as Pun's collabs if he were alive today, you're 100% correct. Pun did more guest features than Lil Wayne when he was alive, and would no doubt hop on tracks with anyone (anyone remember "I'll Be Around" by Rah Sun and Pun???)

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  10. yes i remember ill be around, in fact, i came into here cause i want to download the rah sun album because that song

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  11. black thought sounding horrible here??? you must be on crack, black thought's delivery on "super lyrical" was tight as hell, so fuck you max

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  12. PROSPECT IS WACK?? YEAH LIKE HOMIE SAID U MUST BE ON CRACK...OR WANKIN TOO MUCH IN FRONT OF YA SCREEN KID....

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  13. RICK RUDERMay 08, 2009

    U MUST BE SUM DICKHEAD WHITEBOY!! HOW CAN U DISS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT?? ITS A FUCKIN CLASSIC! THERES A COUPLE OF SHIT TRACKS, BUT PUN IS A LEGEND FOOL, RECOGNIZE PUSSYBOY! DEAD IN THE MIDDLE OF LITTLE ITALY LITTLE DID WE KNOW THAT WE RIDDLED A MIDDLE MAN WHO DIDNT DO DIDDELY!!!

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  14. We can up sounds terrible?????!!!!!!!!???! I have no words for you Max, none

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  15. more or less spot on (perhaps too harsh on the deep cover remake, and you came up isnt great but its certainly not terrible). this also has to be the longest hip hop album ever. not literally, but it feels like it goes on for hours and hours

    beware/super lyrical/still not a player/dream shatterer/not a killer/boomerang/tres leches is what my ipod plays if i ask it to play this album

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  16. This review is bullshit

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  17. first of all u fuckin suck as a critic....this album is one of the best debut albume...........u criticize the radio songs and say its not ready to die....what!? Ready to die is classic because of the singles. go song for song and puns debut will rival ANYBODYS debut album............shut your site down now

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  18. i've got to say after reading alot of your reviews and now this one. You are the worst fucking critic ever, do you listen to rap music?

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  19. max, i love your reviews, but this one was weak as fuck!!, black thought horrible on Super Lyrical? Caribbean Connection Bad? in this review you reccomended this album but you sounded like you was shitting on it at the same time, seriously max, where's your head at?

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  20. Dang. Capital Punishment isn't that great. Max, your getting a lot of hate for giving your opinion. Some people are very narrow minded

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  21. GOOD REVIEW UNTIL THE LITTLE VIRDICT REMARK YOU MADE SAYING HE WOULD HAVE MESSED UP HIS LEGACY.. HE IS THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME. CHECK OUT MY BLOG AT HIPHOPISGONE.BLOGSPOT.COM

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  22. you know what i noticed? you're a faggot, 9 out of 10 times i can predict which tracks on one of your reviews you're going to say sucks just because everyone else generally praises it, i.e. deep cover in this review, mobb deeps hell on earth, and a couple of others i cant remember right now, you have quite possibly, the wackest ear in hip hop, gtfoh :(

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  23. People need to stop crying just because people disagree with them. There are way too many skits and some of the tracks are boring (Although I love Deep Cover, "Dead in the middle of Little Italy little did we know
    that we riddled some middleman who didn't do diddily" is just classic.

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  24. AnonymousMay 08, 2011

    Max I agree that this album has too many skits, but I also feel that you were a tad harsh on this album. I feel this way because I've seen your reviews on some less than amazing Wu-tang albums and in some of the reviews you seem to make excuses for some of the more boring tracks. that's all

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  25. AnonymousMay 31, 2011

    AYO IM A MAD WHITEBOY WHO THINKZ CAPZ IS COOL BUT IM JUST A PUNK WHO SUCKS DICK FOR $10.
    smfh good review as usual Max, some new shit would be nice something like Ill Bill & Vinnie Paz - Heavy Metal Kings?

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  26. From the moment you claimed the song "You Came Up" Feat. Noreaga is "terrible" you lost all sort of credibility. You suck!

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  27. Good review, although I felt Boomerang was excellent. Caribbean Connection is ear-bleedingly awful, I can't believe that "beat" got a pass. I LOVED Tres Leches, would put INS's verse just below his verses on Iron Flag and Above the Clouds.

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  28. Tres Leches IS a fucking highlight on this album. For the record, Prodigy was just as good as Deck & Pun, you batshit crazy bastard. This site is awesome!!!

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  29. Haha... people are pissed at a pretty spot on review... when I cut out all of the skits and songs I didn't really feel, I was left with 9 songs which i feel range from pretty good tunes to absolute bangers. A definite respectable amount, but out of 24 tracks, far from "classic". Dude could spit for sure, but sorry to say, not too many people were talking about this being a "classic" album back when it came out. The good moments are good enough that this would be a solid 4/5 mics (back when that actually meant something) but illmatic it ain't.

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  30. Not sure why people wana get all bitchy about another persons oppinion and why it matters to them so much. Welcome to the modern world I guess. Great blog.

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  31. You say the original version of "The Dream Shatterer" was produced by Large Professor, but it was actually produced by Buckwild. I don't know if it's even worth correcting at this stage, since this review was published nearly 10 years ago, but I decided to mention it anyway. Now get off your damn hiatus already!

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