Big Pun, Yeeeah Baby

Big Pun, Yeeeah Baby (2000)

There is a marked difference between Capital Punishment, the late Big Pun’s platinum debut, and his follow-up, Yeeeah Baby. The first, with its low-key, cellar-dwelling beats and understated production, adhered to then-underground aesthetics as it revealed a rhyme animal of B.I.G. proportions with a sharp wit and strong conceptual abilities. Yeeeah Baby, however, is post-“Still Not A Player,” the crossover smash that introduced Big Pun to the R&B (rap and bullshit) audience. It arrives with a wail of guitars, a clarion call announcing his arrival. “Earth to Pun…come in Pun,” he yawns on “Watch Those,” before being engulfed in the theme from Starsky & Hutch. On Yeeeah Baby, he’s a New York Giant, he’s Air Pun, Leather Face from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. “I don’t give a fuck/Till I die I’m gonna live it up,” he vows on “Off With His Head” with fellow Terror Squad member Prospect. As outrageous as Big Pun’s costume changes are, he still exhibits a way with words. “This is for my 25-to-life critters/Pork-fried rice eaters/New York, New York/Ice-rocking tight wife beaters/We the truth/Don’t let your dead body be the proof.” He’s “Laughing At You” with his Benz, its 20-inch rims and his house on the hill. Like much of commercial NYC rap these days, Yeeeah Baby is upheld by a certain amount of ballast. The beats are loud and abrasive, created to get you jumping and cutting up in the club. Pun’s producers – Just Blaze, Younglord, and DJ Shok – do it better than most here, but the aesthetic is the same. Either you want to get up, talk loud and talk shit, or you want to stay in your seat and talk about how obnoxious it sounds. Young Lord produced “It’s So Hard,” a middling hit collab with Donell Jones that nevertheless offered solace for fans shocked by Big Pun’s sudden death at the age of 28. Sean Cane produced “100%,” an effervescent salsa number that has become a Nuyorican anthem. Loud.

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