'Yeeeah Baby!,' the album that Bronx rapper Big Punisher labored on during the final months of his life, debuts this week 19 years ago at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it the week's highest-charting new release.
The 28-year-old Big Pun, whose given name was Christopher Rios, died of heart failure on Feb. 7 in White Plains, N.Y., cutting short a career that was launched with the Grammy-nominated album "Capital Punishment" in 1998.
'Yeeeah Baby!' was the eagerly awaited follow-up effort to 'Capital Punishment', which made Pun the first solo Latino rapper to score a platinum-selling album. The timing of its release, however, adds Big Pun to a growing list of rappers to debut in the Top 10 with posthumous releases, a grim tally that includes Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G.
With the single 'It's So Hard' leading the way, 'Yeeeah Baby!' sold 179,000 copies during its first week in stores, trailing only 'N Sync's 'No String Attached' (533,000) and Santana's 'Supernatural' (186,000).