It’s been 20 years since Capital Punishment. 20 years since the breakthrough album from one of the greatest rappers of all time. 20 years of searing wordplay, larger-than-life hits, and groundbreaking street bangers.
DJBooth’s Capital Punishment 20, available exclusively on TIDAL, goes behind the scenes of eight classic records from Pun’s seminal debut in celebration of the album’s 20th anniversary, with interviews from Fat Joe, Steve Rifkind, Matty C, Sean C, LV, Rockwilder, Minnesota, Tony Sunshine, Bodega Bamz and Joell Ortiz.
Christopher “Big Pun” Rios’ lyrical gymnastics and creative tongue-twisters left even the strongest MCs in the game slack-jawed. His nearly singular talent was the ability to drop gnashing super lyrical bars one day and rap not-so-sweet nothings to women over sultry R&B the next.
Released 20 years ago, Pun’s debut album, Capital Punishment, was his show-and-prove moment after emerging from the underground through fiery singles and a Fat Joe guest spot. It was the volleyball spike into the Bronx pavement, onto the same sweet spot The Notorious B.I.G. hit in Brooklyn a few years prior.
The album is rich with textures both menacing and tropical, fitting for songs that run the gamut from shit-talking (“Super Lyrical,” “You Ain’t A Killer”) to spitting game (“Still Not A Player,” “Punish Me”).
Pun, who tragically passed away in 2000 at 29, skated over the beats with a booming voice and masterful lyrical prowess. His undeniable talent secured Punishment’s status as the first rap album by a Latino MC to be certified Platinum while cementing his legacy as one of the most gifted lyricists in hip-hop history.
Two decades later, Pun’s bravado can be seen in Cardi B’s meteoric rise, a similarly sharp-tongued Afro-Latino force who busted down pop culture’s front door.
Clearly, Pun’s capital is still strong. Beware.
Watch all eight episodes here.