Few seasoned Hip Hop fans would ever put up a fight if you claimed Main Source's Breaking Atoms was in the top 10 all-time. Along with fraternal DJ duo K-Cut and Sir Scratch, Large Professor [click to read], crafted a timeless classic in 1991. It was an album that formed a foundation upon which the next few years of the golden era would build upon. But when Extra P went solo, the Canadian deejays kept the name and replaced the producer/emcee with Mikey D, a man not exactly in P's class. With their F**k What You Think eventually shelved by Wild Pitch, it is Paul Mitchell's turn to take the name and restore it.
Main Source is Large Pro's first album since 2002's 1st Class, and with The LP being eternally shelved (but oft-bootlegged), it is only his second solo album in nearly two decades. What he lacks in efficiency, he makes up for in quality. Like a five-star chef using only the finest ingredients, Extra P serves up exquisite full course meals. "The Entrance" [click to listen], kicks the album off with layered samples and drives P to rhyme like a man 20 years his junior. His original Queens recipe gets a 2008 twist on "Hot: Sizzling, Scorching, Torching, Blazing." Anyone of those adjectives describes the song sufficiently.
As evidenced by past classics such as "Lookin' At The Front Door" and "Just A Friendly Game of Baseball," Large Pro cooks up his best dishes when reflection is on the menu. "In The Ghetto" is the shining example on Main Source. Over a laid back baseline, he paints a picture of the ghetto as vivid as they come; "chick outside in her slippers and bathrobe/young playa kid with the pick and big afro/on the cell phone talkin' bout 'where you at yo?'/pretty or natural, black beauty pageant show/crew of dime females walk and talk mad slow/laughing at the dudes that was trying to make a pass/so many sights to see, what more can you ask for?" "Party Time," a decent track that already sounds forced and out of place, seems particularly trite when its followed by "In The Ghetto."
"Maica Living" has P in a similar frame of mind as him, Killah Sha and Guardian Leep delve into how we all make a living. This isn't the only time he brings guests into the kitchen, "DuRopeDapNNoyd" is broken into three parts with NYC vets Jeru The Damaja, Lil' Dap and Big Noyd taking a part each. There was a time when neither Noyd nor Dap could come close to Jeru, but the Big and Lil' emcees really go in and easily outdo The Damaja. Keeping to the Big Apple Pro enlists perennial NYC favs Styles P [click to read], and AZ [click to read], for the albums closer. Unfortunately, "The Hardest" hardly fits the title and doesn't quite live up to expectations. On the other hand, "Hardcore Hip Hop" lives up to the description and then some. It isn't hard to believe that this is the same man who produced "Fakin' The Funk."
In the age of quick and disposable, microwave music, albums like this will have a hard time satisfying a lot of consumers. This brand of Hip Hop is a cultivated taste in 2008, one that grows better with each listen. With iPod's, MP3's and ringtone rap, fewer listeners are willing to prepare a 5-course meal when they can be fed with the click of a button. But whether or not this LP will be fully appreciated by today's audience, it doesn't change the fact this is a great album. Not perfect by any means, but a definite improvement over the inconsistent 1st Class. From the title, to the album's overall musings and delivery, Large Pro reminds us why his first is like his last, forever a Main Source of realness.