Christopher Lee Carlos Rios (November 10, 1971 – February 7, 2000), better known by his stage name Big Pun (short for Big Punisher), was a Puerto Rican rapper who emerged from the underground rap scene in The Bronx in the late 1990s. Big Pun's career was cut short in 2000 at age 28 when he died of a heart attack.
During the 1980s, Big Punisher was a rapper operating under the alias Big Moon Dawg. Rios met fellow Puerto Rican and Rutland rapper Fat Joe in 1995 and made his commercial debut on Joe's second album, “Jealous Ones Envy,” appearing on a b-side to Joe's "Envy" single, "Fire Water" as well as the track "Watch Out."
Later, was supported by a significant advertising campaign and became an underground hit.
In 1997, "I'm Not a Player" (featuring an O'Jays sample) with guest Joe, became Big Pun's first major mainstream hit. His full-length debut album “Capital Punishment” followed in 1998, and became the first album by a solo Latino rapper to go platinum, peaking at #5 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. The album went to #1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart as well. “Capital Punishment” was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album.
Big Pun became a member of Terror Squad, a New York-based group of rappers founded by Fat Joe, who released their debut album “The Album” in 1999.
In 1999, he co-starred in the Albert Pyun-directed ghetto-movie “Urban Menace,” alongside his frequent collaborator Fat Joe. On February 7, 2000, Big Pun suffered a fatal heart attack and respiratory failure.
His second album, “Yeeeah Baby,” completed before his death, was issued as scheduled in April 2000. It peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart and earned gold status within three months of its release. Like his previous LP, “Yeeeah Baby” also went to #1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart.
A posthumous compilation album, “Endangered Species,” was released in April 2001. “Endangered Species” collected some of Pun's greatest hits, previously unreleased material, numerous guest appearances, and remixed greatest verses. As with his other albums, it also peaked in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200, reaching #7.