During the 1980s, Big Punisher was already a rapper. At this point Big Pun was 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, in addition to appearing on a b-side to Joe's "Envy" single, "Fire Water" and "Watch Out."
In 1997, producer Nobody's production partner Sean C took advantage of his new role as A&R at Loud Records to play Nobody's tracks to Big Pun. Suitably impressed the rapper hired Nobody to remix "I'm Not a Player". The song, featuring Joe, became Big Pun's first major mainstream hit and major breakthrough for Knobody. The full-length debut 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. Capital Punishment was also nominated for a Grammy, but lost out on the award to Jay-Z's Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life.
Excluding his adolescence, Big Pun struggled with his weight for most of his life; his weight fluctuated in the early 1990s between obese and morbidly obese. Big Pun enrolled in a weight-loss program in North Carolina, in which he lost 80 pounds (36 kg), but he eventually quit the program before completing it, returning to New York and gaining back the weight he had lost. On February 7, 2000, Big Pun suffered a fatal heart attack and respiratory failure while temporarily staying with family at a Crowne Plaza Hotel in White Plains, New York during a home renovation. Pun was pronounced dead at the hospital after paramedics could not revive him. Big Pun was at his highest weight at the time of his death, being 698 pounds
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