After guest appearances on Fat Joe’s “Fire Water” and “Off the Books” by The Beatnuts, Big Pun released his debut album Capital Punishment on April 28, 1998 through Loud/RCA Records. Pun showed off his lyrical dexterity and breath control for his size. He also rhymed alongside East Coast heavyweights Inspectah Deck, Prodigy from Mobb Deep, Black Thought from The Roots, and Noreaga, along with Fat Joe and the Terror Squad.
The album received critical acclaim, and Big Pun became the first solo Latino rapper to go platinum. The album peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200 and hit #1 on the Top R&B Albums chart for two weeks. The album yielded the singles “I’m Not a Player,” “You Came Up” with Noreaga, “Twinz (Deep Cover ‘98)” with Fat Joe, and “Still Not a Player” with Joe, which is Big Pun’s most successful single. In 1999, Capital Punishment was nominated for a Best Rap Album Grammy Award but lost to JAY-Z’s Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life.