Big L's Brother Responds To Lord Finesse, Talks L's "Return"

Exclusive: L's last living brother says the funky technician was ill-informed about who controls L's business and that the "Return of the Devil's Son" is in his hands.

Following the jaw-dropping revelations Diggin’ In The Crates crew-leader Lord Finesse made to HipHopDX back in July regarding the estate of his protégé, the late Big L, the sole surviving brother of the legendary Harlem emcee wants the world to know that he, and only he, controls his little brother’s posthumous affairs.

“No,” replied Donald Phinazee without hesitation when asked by DX on Friday (October 22nd) if L’s long absent father will see a penny of proceeds from the forthcoming collection of rare L recordings, Return of the Devil’s Son (due November 23rd). “I made sure of that too.”  

“He don’t control nothing,” Donald, a/k/a Big Don, emphatically replied when further asked if, as Lord Finesse previously explained to DX, L’s father had assumed control of his son’s estate following the passing of Big Don and Big L’s mother, Gilda “Pinky” Terry, in 2008. “L’s father controls nothing. I control everything.”

“His father, that sperm donor... This have nothing to do with him,” Don clarified regarding the specific involvement of Lamont Coleman’s father in the first family-sponsored posthumous project from the esteemed emcee. “And I talked to Finesse and I told him about it. I was telling him about it: ‘His father might [try to] do something…’ But, I made a type of arrangement with [L’s father]. So he don’t have nothing to do with nothing… I know how [Finesse] feel though, ‘cause I feel the same way [about L’s father].”  

While Don did not elaborate on the “arrangement” he made with L’s father to keep him out of his late son’s affairs, Big L’s eldest brother did speak at greater length about the arrangements he made to obtain the, in some instances nearly two-decade-old, master recordings of the late lyricist that were used for Return of the Devil’s Son.

“I got ‘em from the studios that had ‘em,” he revealed. “Lamont used to go to all different studios. So, he was out there, going to different spots. And I had to really go and find ‘em… [I had to] track dudes down… [But I think getting these tapes] was supposed to happen, because I was running into [most of] these dudes very easily… Out of nowhere, we just came together. It’s crazy how it happened. It’s really unbelievable.”       

Return of the Devil’s Son includes Big L’s demonic debut 12” for which the album is named, as well as additional songs that were originally intended for L’s first full-length, Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous (“School Days,” “Unexpected Flava,” “I Should Have Used A Rubber,” “Principal Of The New School”), along with joints that would have likely surfaced on what would have been Big L’s sophomore studio LP (“Now Or Never” a/k/a “Power Moves,” “How Will I Make It?” a.k.a. “I Won’t,” “Hit It” a/k/a “Yes You Can”), and some of the several standout radio freestyles L amassed during the ‘90s (including the album’s finale, “Slaying The Mic,” a.k.a. the final freestyle L laid down before his tragic murder in February 1999).       

A collection of songs and freestyles that most longtime Big L fans have heard previously via various mixtapes and projects unsanctioned by L’s family, (like the recently-released 139 & Lenox, which was mysteriously unleashed by the independent label L co-founded in the late ‘90s, Flamboyant Entertainment), may upon first glance seem unworthy of the hard-earned dollars of the buying public. But Gustavo Guerra insists the sound of this project will sway the skeptical into coppin’.  

Said the CEO of Queens, New York based label Distrolord Inc, (who is releasing Return of the Devil’s Son in conjunction with Bay Area-based SMC Recordings): “These records that we have are basically unreleased records, and [in the past] certain people would have like unreleased vinyl, which would be of very low quality… [But] this is high-quality, mastered, [direct] from the reels to the actual CD. [With the unsanctioned Big L releases] people would just do minor press-ups and they would get shut down. And this is why we’re doing this album, basically [to say] this is the official record coming from the estate.”    

The first leak from Return of the Devil’s Son, “Zone of Danger” , is a remix of “Danger Zone” from Lifestylez that deejay/producer J-Love debuted on his Unstoppable mixtape in 2006, and appears to have personally included in this new batch of Big L rarities in his role as one of the executive producers of the project, (along with Big Don and Gustavo Guerra).    

“There are certain things that we’re putting out there just to get the fans ready [for future estate-sponsored Big L projects],” replied Guerra when the origins of “Zone of Danger” were pointed out to him.  

The next estate-sanctioned project due for release is the long-overdue docu-DVD, Street Struck: The Big L Story. While the trailer for the film was released a year-and-a-half ago, Big Don insists the official story of Big L’s life is indeed coming soon.

“Tommy, the director, is mastering it, [but] it’s just so much [footage] that we got,” explained Don. “We got like nine, 10 hours worth of footage… [And] Tommy wanna take his time with it. He wanna put it out there out there, like all the way out there, like [internationally], everywhere, bam, at one time. So he wanna make it real, real good. So he’s really going over it, going back over it, re-doing it, doing this, putting that in, taking that out… We was trying to [get it done in time] for L’s next anniversary, but he wasn’t ready yet.”  

An additional reason for the delay of the DVD, according to Don: “I hear Eminem wanna get into [the documentary] but I can’t get in touch with his people…”

“That’s what we trying to do now,” replied Don when asked if an interview with Jay-Z, (who got some of his first national exposure via Big L’s Lifestylez in 1995), had been secured for Street Struck. “My man [DJ] Premier said he’s gon’ hook us up. So, when Premier have time he’ll hook us up – ‘cause Premier been real busy too. But he said he was gonna put it together for us though so…that’s gon’ get done, ‘cause we need [Jay-Z’s] interview. Lamont took him out one time [in a battle] around the block… So, I want him to really admit it. [Laughs]”  

Trailing Return of the Devil’s Son and Street Struck: The Big L Story will hopefully be the release of the Lord Finesse and DJ Premier helmed project that Finesse detailed to DX back in July.

“Yeah, I am,” conceded Don of his need to reach out to Big L’s musical mentor to clear up the apparent misunderstanding regarding L’s estate that has contributed to the decade-long delay since the release of the first official collection of previously unreleased L material, the gold-certified The Big Picture. “I gotta call him. We gotta play some pool. We usually get together, play some pool and talk… I’ma talk to him though. We gonna talk. That’s my man. I love that dude, ‘cause he helped me out a lot when I came home. I just did eight-and-a-half years. I came home, he embraced me, Premier embraced me, [Showbiz] embraced me, all them dudes embraced me. But Finesse really, really helped me out. That’s my man. He a good dude.”

While long-starving L supporters continue to salivate and wait for Lord Finesse to unveil some never-before-heard verses from arguably the greatest punch-line emcee in Hip Hop history, the assemblage of high-quality rarities on Return of the Devil’s Son will more than suffice in holding famished fans over, while furthering the legacy of Lamont Coleman nearly a dozen years after his death.    

“L was gon’ [still] be out there,” said Big Don of where Big L would have been if he had lived to see 2010. “L was gon’ be where he was supposed to be, on top. Everybody know L was hot. Everybody know he was gonna be #1. If that wouldn’t have happened to my little brother, he’d a been there: unstoppable, still reinventing himself. I mean, L was a beast. And I’d say that even if he wasn’t my little brother. I used to tell him that, ‘Dog, you my little brother, but if you was wack I’d tell you that. No nigga, you a beast!’”    

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  • Niko Pentazidis

    illest of all time Big L all day

  • naminglames

    Good luck getting jay on that interview. He aint even had L up on the screen when he did all those RIP segments during his live shows. Really looking forward to that documentary tho

  • Nico 3

    He never would have been #1. That just wasn't the type of rapper Big L was designed to be. He had talent. That was obvious, but he would have been screwed over by the labels and ended up like Rakim did.

    • rydersix10

      do you not know that Big L was weeks away from getting signed to Rockafella Records in the very beginning b4 the label was even known like that??...he wouldve blew up right along with the label and JaY Z and if anything wouldv'e made it even better...not only that but Big L had his own label and wouldve put out even more local n.y far as todays time...all L wouldve needed was some hot beats and he wouldve been good money...rick ross,jeezy,and gucci are average rappers but their beats are so hot that it makes them look more talented then what they imagine putting the greatest lyricist of all time over todays hot beats???

  • jake

    Nas, Big L, Em, Pun, Pharoahe Monch, Common, Black Thought, Elzhi, Crooked I, Kool G Rap...That's my top 10 emcees when it comes to SUPER LYRICAL rewind that emcees...Honarable mention to Diabolic, One Be Lo, Louis Louis Logic, Juice

  • Gary Wallace

    Big L was and still is the greatest to me! I can't wait for this album to drop, neither with the documentary and the Lord Finesse / Preemo album! It's good to know people still go in, for Big L! People better recognize this mans talent! Even Big Pun said the best emcee out there was BIG L!

    • rydersix10

      when did Big Pun say that?? not saying it didn't a fan i just wanna know cause i always wondered what those 2 thought of eachother since they never did a song together. they were the top 2 lyricist of all time..

  • checo

    yo to me dha greatest dope rappers ever,i hate dat nobody knows bout him from where im from and he needs to b noticed ckuz his up der with pac and biggie

  • anon

    whats with the guys voice on the album commercial.

  • MPistol

    man I hope all of this comes to fruition - cuz I'll be wherever this drops, with money in hand

  • The B

    Big L is nice as hell, but Kool G. Rap is the greatest lyricist of all time!

  • Anonymous

    R.I.P Duce Rivas Presents "Brain Pollution" Episode 2

  • Anonymous

    Pretty crazy how dope Big L was, He was undefeated at battling thats a pretty crazy thing to be able to claim considering he battled many many top tier MC's out the 90's including Jay, Cam, Mase, and many dope others.

  • MFKing

    disappointed that the CD won't contain anything I haven't heard before, but I can't wait for the documentary!

  • rydasix10

    well i'm glad that it's finally confirmed that Big L was better then Jay Z...from the way it sounds...There's a possibility that we we'll be able to get jay Z to actually admit it this time....that as Big L's brother said...L took Jay Z's ass out in a actual freestyle now we the fans don't have to debate over that 9 minute freestyle anymore...Big L was there taping the infamous Jay Z vrs DMX battle as well so i'm hoping they put some of that footage in Big L's Movie as well...heard they got some footage of Big L and Big Pun on stage together as well...those are the two most lyrical rappers of all i cant wait to see that...Ya'll should cop that Big Pun movie thats out as well. Support and remember the real lyricist. R.I.P to the greatest

    • rydersix10

      your right...but it damn sure makes you look better then if you lost the battle to that person...if anything that just adds to Big L's greatness. everyone loves to mention how jay z out rapped so and so all the time. So now Big L joins the small list of guys who smashed jay lyrically right along with Nas.

    • Sensaye252

      Just because someone can rip somebody in a battle doesn't mean they're better. If it was like that, then Jin would be better than 2Pac.




  • Anonymous

    long live the legacy of big L, finally some coverage and media of Big L will reach the masses. We all know L had serious potential, but is undoubtly the Champion of the underground

  • Charles ExSavior

    Very informative article! I'm just glad this didn't come down to a "should we listen to more Big L?" question like last time. Bad enough this site dickrides anything YM/Wocka Flocka related.

  • 718bob

    I don't know how I feel about any of this.

  • Bauce

    Big L one of the greats. RIP. Hope this shit get released proper

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