Had I written this review for the album’s originally planned release date in 1996, I would have probably opened it by simply saying, “The Large Professor, the main ingredient in The Main Source has gone solo.” The long-awaited and long-anticipated first solo studio album from Large Professor, was ready to be heard by the masses way back in 1996, but it was unceremoniously shelved by Geffen Records. His actual sophomore release, 1st Class in 2002 transformed into his debut solo album, while a select group of bootleggers championed The LP. Thirteen years late, the Queens emcee/producer acquired his masterpiece, threw on some stuff that didn’t make the ’96, and The LP was officially released.
Armed with a special swagger and confidence from the get-go, even the mostly instrumental, “Intro” has you anticipating on what’s next as it asks, “Yo Professor, what’s up?” “That Bullshit” quickly transports you back to the lyrical prowess and emcee suave bola-ness of the mid-1990s. The Large Pro laments about it gettin’ harder in the streets to survive as he exhorts folks to get their minds together and avoid the social pitfalls (including a minor explanation of his Main Source departure).
“Hungry” is a braggadocios-yet-captivating display from a stellar emcee, written at a time when his productions with Nas and Kool G Rap were overshadowing his mic skills in the media. Extra P’s vocal delivery is crisp and full of clarity, while the track is accompanied by the mandatory in-your-face hard snare and a funky baseline. The track and its aforementioned elements are the foundation and the blueprint for any and all Large Professor-produced offerings. Throughout, the man who mentored DJ Premier with the chop has produced tracks for the likes of A Tribe Called Quest and Nas exalts on the fact that he has mastered the art and craft of looping a track.
Unveiled as a single during the changing of the guard from “golden era” morals to the shiny suit era, “I Juswanna Chill” marks P’s 1996 needed commentary. The song thrives on the mantra of, “I don’t wanna ill, I just wanna chill and keep my hand around a hundred dollar bill,” which is the Professor’s introspective realization that he was meant to rhyme not commit crimes.
Cutting, scratching and transforming is artistically and skillfully utilized like a tutorial throughout this album. The turntable mastery flourishes and thrives in “Funky 2 Listen 2” and “The LP (For My People).” With “Funky 2 Listen 2,” transformer scratches are used like an instrument as it vibes underneath the cutting of Big Daddy Kane saying, “funky to listen to.” Meanwhile “The LP (For My People)” is a smooth track that bounds with a hard snare that still manages not to destroy the smooth ambiance. Greg Nice saying “LP” is precisely scratched, as the creative give and take track inspired by the people and made for the people gets funky for the people. After all, it was Large Professor who reconstructed “recognize” to “Nas” on the remix to “It Ain’t Hard To Tell.” The 1989 rookie demonstrated his turntablism at a time when deejays were being phased out from major label projects.
“Queens Lounge” is a pleasurable trip through the borough, while “Hard” is a shout out to the Professor’s beats and production, as well as the community that he comes from. When you come from hard times and hard streets you get inspired to create hard beats and a hard ghetto style. After giving Queens’ Nas and Akinyele and stellar production throughout the decade, The LP had the creator’s lifelong home in mind. Nas catches this vibe briiliantly, on one of his finest unheard 1996 moments, “One Plus One.”
This album felt like an old friend; when I pressed play, I was hearing 98% of the cuts for the very first time, but I was smoothly transported musically back to 1996. The skillful funky basslines and the hard pulverizing snares of a Large Professor production maintain their vibrancy and energy. Meanwhile, Extra P’s lyrics and delivery like a funky fossil, leaves an imprint in the Hip Hop soil that lasts and permeates music of today. Those who understand the importance, the originality and the experimental significance of music from that time period like a Hip-Hop Archaeologists will fully appreciate this freshly dug up and well preserved musical offering.