In 2018, the hip-hop world was buzzing with excitement when news broke about the Big L biopic titled “Put It On.” The script, masterfully crafted by Jesse (Daze) Swindell better known as Daze, received assistance from Big L’s nephew, Leroy Phinazee Jr., and Big L’s brother, Don, along with other close family and friends. However, amidst personal tragedies and various challenges, the project faced unexpected setbacks, leading to its eventual cancellation.
A Tragic Turn of Events: The year 2019 brought heart-wrenching news as Leroy Phinazee Jr., also known as Lil Lee, was tragically shot and killed on the very block where his father and uncle, Big Lee and Big L, respectively, met their untimely fates. Lil Lee’s death, coupled with online feuds involving members of D.I.T.C (Diggin’ in the Crates Crew), added to the already mounting difficulties faced by the biopic.
A New Partnership: Realizing the need to overcome these obstacles, Jesse (Daze) Swindell decided to seek a new path forward. He teamed up with film producer Kevin Townley, hoping that this partnership would breathe new life into the project. Their collaboration aimed to resurrect the “Put It On” biopic and honor the legacy of the late rap legend, Big L. Casting Call and Progress: In the midst of the 2020 pandemic, despite the challenging circumstances, a casting call was held in the South Bronx to search for the perfect actors to portray the lead characters in “Put It On.” Sean Jenkins was selected to embody the late rap legend, receiving the esteemed co-sign from Big L’s childhood friend, Herb McGruff. With McGruff’s endorsement, the project began to gain momentum. An Ambitious Sizzle: The passion behind the project was evident as the full cast, including portrayals of Big L, Fat Joe, Jay-Z, Dame Dash, Big Pun, Lord Finesse, and Biggie Smalls, came together. The team shot 85% of an impressive sizzle reel on the actual streets of Harlem, capturing the essence of the era and the spirit of Big L. Over the course of a week, they meticulously crafted a great sizzle, showcasing their dedication and talent. Once the sizzle was done and scenes was posted on the films IG page (@BIGLBIOPIC) the excitement came right back. Daze began shopping the project again and this time he even got rapper Joey Bad Azz to sign on to portray Big L in the actual film once it got picked up.
Unfortunately, the road to success was not without its hurdles. The project encountered yet another setback when Big L’s brother, Don, and the Big L estate decided against moving forward. Other postponed documentaries and the sale of Big L’s masters complicated the clearance process, leading to disagreement among Big L’s family members and the estate. Despite the cast’s dedication and enthusiasm, the project hit a major roadblock.
With years of frustration mounting, Jesse (Daze) Swindell made the difficult decision to throw in the towel, acknowledging that the project’s journey had come to an end. However, in a final tribute to Big L’s legacy, the sizzle reel, crafted with love and passion in 2020, will be released to the public before 2023 ends. Though “Put It On” may have met an unfortunate end, the story of Big L and his impact on the hip-hop community remains relevant and deserving of a cinematic portrayal. Jesse (Daze) Swindell, despite the challenges faced, still holds hope for a future film or documentary that will honor the late rapper’s legacy. The cancellation of the Big L biopic “Put It On” leaves a lingering sense of what could have been.
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