Large Professor recently sat down with HipHopWired to discuss the making of Nas’ classic debut Illmatic, released in 1994. During the interview, he explained why the LP captured New York City with the perfect blend of lyrics and production, and how Esco was able to accurately paint a picture of the world around him.
“The energy about making Illmatic was crazy. It was really New York at its peak, and then you had this ferocious rapper in Nas and these ferocious producers – Pete Rock, Premier, Large Professor, Q-Tip – and it was what I called the burner age,” he explained. “Like, a burner was not just basic graffiti. It was a real thought-out, intricate masterpiece. So when we started sampling, that’s really when the music really started getting nice and colorful. We made songs filtering all kinds of things. Joints like ‘Halftime’ man was just like a musical painting of the streets, just the roughness of the New York streets. And the trains going by and people hanging out and beers and smoke, all of that. We just trying to encapsulate that into the music. That’s why I feel it’s revered, because I feel we captured it, definitely.”
He also said that he doesn’t think there has been an album since Illmatic that’s surpassed in quality, stating that Nas was able to unload his life into the LP in a way that others cannot.
“I feel Illmatic hasn’t been outdone in the style of album that that is, because you think Nas from day zero from I guess he was 20 years old, that’s 20 years of experience just waiting to get out there and it’s like… And then the beats, I feel Illmatic was more a lyrical album. I feel the albumw as built more on lyrics than tracks. But that album is just poetical plus street man, it’s amazing.”