Large Professor Reflects On Nas' "Illmatic"

Large Professor says that the 1994 release captured a moment in time.

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."

RELATED: Large Professor "Professor @ Large" Tracklist & Artwork

33 Comments

  • SomeMusicGuy

    Large Pro pluggin his own shit.. Illmatic is dope.. but half that shit was jacked from the shit around Nas.. it wasn't actually Nas's life.. shit is far from 'real' but it did sound great.. even Illmatic was a word Tragedy Khadafi came up with.. Nas will never get that respect from me especially when he went out of his way to say hip hop is dead.. people need to wake up with this shit.. yall are followin false prophets right now.. being manipulated by people like Nas and Jay, who faked retirement to sell albums.. among a million other things.. every day.. and they are laughing all the way to the bank.. the real dudes died.. there's a reason Pac didn't fuck with Nas.. and it runs real deep.. Just because there's no real rappers in the game right now doesn't mean hip hop is dead.. There's literally only 2 dudes in the game that are comin from a real place.. and it has nothing to do with being Hard or Soft.. it's about being real.. speaking from TRUTH. I won't even mention them because even they are being compromised by the game.. I only wish real loyalty was in those that repped the game.. Nas bit the hand that fed him so many times I have no fuckin idea how anyone could cosign him any more.

  • Anonymous

    Ya say it overrated cause ya was not fuckin in the streets in 94! ILLMATIC=. Timeless. ILLMATIC= HipHop Bible. Nas= goat then. Nas= goat now. Fuck what u heard..

  • Renahtu

    he needs to make an album wit Neme$1$, thats 21 years of hunger right there

  • Anonymous

    do we still need to reflect on Illmatic? don't Extra-P (I love him tho) got anything better to do? I mean, it's a classic, but I think everything has been said about it already.

    • dazeone

      I agree, get off Nas tip he used you his first alblum and ished on you for everyone after and still has not recreated that 1st one. Large Pro get ya mind right and get someone that's hungry to recreate 20 years have past aand dye your hair and cut that beard you 40 looking 60

  • GoodPuzzy

    i think stillmatic was the shit. dope shit. loved it whe he splits eminem murdered you on your own shit

  • realtalkrealguy

    gonna go out on a limb and say "illmatic" was overrated. I KNOW I KNOW i'm gonna get murdered for this post, but i honestly thought it was just "great" not classic. If you want classic albums, look for "Ready to Die", "Reasonable Doubt" and "We the Best Forever". Now THOSE albums impacted hip hop like no other. Illmatic just didn't have that...X factor if you will.

    • SomeMusicGuy

      Reasonable doubt and Ready to Die I can agree.. but there hasn't been a classic album since 2003 in Get Rich or Die tryin.. when i say classic I mean it will be played 100 years from now.. nothing made since then will be played 100 years from now.. and no not Kanye's shit either.

    • Anonymous

      ^^^^^ crackheads word to life! @ ready to die better then illmatic shit Biggie stole the album cover.... Nas= Goat !

    • The MG

      I know you got your own opinion on Illmatic, but did you just call "We the Best Forever" a classic album?

    • Anonymous

      @ realtalkrealguy: you right. also the production imo wasnt that great because nas always choose weak beats. But illmatic is imo a classic but not a superclassic.

    • nasirjones

      i agree with u..illmatic mad overrated.definately not the greatest hiphop album of all time..marshall mathers lp and blueprint and life after death shit on illmatic..all much more interesting and entertaining albums..illmatic had a few gems though but not enough to make me listen all the way through

    • Yamz

      Hahaha, shut the fuck up

  • DrewDown91

    NaS is one of the biggest sell outs of all time. Did you see the crap during the draft? What was dude thinking? I mean he tarnishes his own legacy time and time again. I must say God's Son was pretty damn good though. The most proper follow-up after a half dozen tries.

  • JC

    One of the greatest albums no doubt What a great time for hip-hop, wish I could do it again

  • Mike

    Good stuff, 90's was the ish.

  • BlazinSkull

    It's a shame that Nas ain't getting productions from LP anymore man, he needs to stop using this wack DJ's that DEF JAM gives him and go back to the real producers. i think he got better chemistry with LP.

  • Anonymous

    Classic album...Def in the top 5 all time

  • Anonymous

    its a shame that Nas after illmatic became nas escobar the gunslinger and cokedealer. lol Nas never broke a law in his life

    • Anonymous

      i dont give a fcuk if wu tang call him escobar he used the name you dumass. Nas is a hypocrite goin from nasty nas to nas escobar so fuck you!

    • Anonymous

      you idiot the wu tang clan nicknamed nas esco dumb as niggers

    • L-Boogie

      Its a shame that you take entertainment to literal. Nas like other rappers adopted mafioso persona's to stay relevant, damn your so dumb.

    • Anonymous

      nas is the biggest sellout of all times.

  • Anonymous

    Greatest album in Hip Hop IMO, fantastic tracks and rhymes, great album structure.

  • Anonymous

    I never understood why Nas stopped working with Large Professor, You're Da Man should be reason enough. I think Large Pro and L.E.S. are the two most underrated producer when it comes to Nas and how they converted his lyrical visions into soundscapes.

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