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Lord Finesse Reminisces on His History, Big L and Biggie

Lord FinesseBronx-bred Lord Finesse is one of hip-hop’s true legends.

As both an artist and producer, he rode through the Golden Era logging stellar work with other icons such as Diamond D and DJ Premier. In an excellent, wide-ranging interview with Wax Poetics, Finesse reflected on his past and some of the other New York legends he has worked with throughout the years.

“I used to go to all the block parties in the hood,” said Finesse. “Mike Smooth used to throw block parties. So did Showbiz … he threw a lot of parties and was playing clubs since he was 15 or 16 years old. Plus, Diamond D was like the neighborhood freelance DJ. If we went somewhere that was hot, Diamond would hop on and play some obscure breaks or some s— for like a half hour — just real quick, enough for people to catch him. Man, those times were special.”

Lord Finesse met Big L while selling mixtapes at a place called Rockin’ Wills on 125th Street in Harlem. Apparently, Big L approached Finesse boasting about his superior rhyme skills and was brushed off. Undeterred, L put on a little show on the spot and won the legend over.

“He [Big L] reminds me of myself, but a younger version,” Finesse said. “I put him on the phone one day and let him rhyme to AG. After that, everything took off from there. We tried to get him on and get him a record deal. But it took a while. People were calling him “Finesse Son” or “Little Finesse.” I used to have to check people all the time. People didn’t understand the advancement I saw in this dude. It took a while, but he landed a deal with Sony with the ‘Devil’s Son’ demo. That demo was bananas! Everyone was like, ‘Who is this kid?’ Of course, we already knew he was dope. I ended up doing five or six cuts on his debut album. Big L was a very smart rapper and I don’t think people give him enough credit for that.”

Another classic Lord Finesse production credit came on Notorious B.I.G.‘s ‘Suicidal Thoughts,’ off Biggie’s 1994 debut, ‘Ready to Die.’ Like many, he found Biggie to be a real character — both humorous and deadly on the microphone.

“Working with Biggie was like going to a comedy session,” he reminisced. “I swear, he was a comedian who also happened to be an incredible lyricist. I knew a lot of jokes were gonna be cracked and that we’re just chillin’ and workin’ together. I mean, we ended up just laughing the whole time. It felt like we were kicking it and not even working. I had the most fun working with Biggie and Big L for sure.”

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