Big L Return of the Devil's Son

Big L Return of the Devil's Son
Eleven years after his murder, Big L remains an indelible presence in hip-hop. The Harlem native was hotly tipped to sign to Roc-A-Fella before his untimely death, working with Ma$e, Cam'ron and Jay-Z before their fame. And his witty punch lines and malleable flow influenced slick rhymers from Eminem to Fabolous. Return is an attempt to build on that legacy, collecting 21 of the late MC's unreleased songs, freestyles, remixes and demos. But it's hard to tell whom Return is intended for: Diehard L fans will already have these joints and these odds-and-sods may not convert newcomers. Nonetheless, Return offers gems in good quality for the first time: "Devil's Son" is darkly hilarious horrorcore before it had a name, while "I Won't" is a wrenching tale of poverty over a pitch-perfect Dramatics sample. His '92 audition tape is worth the price of admission alone; you can hear a great MC taking shape as the then 18-year-old L demolishes old school breaks. (SMC)