There’s an undeniable dustiness to Large Professor’s aptly titled return, Professor @ Large. Fundamental drums that sound as if they were initially tapped out on a kitchen table are littered throughout. Aggressive delivery that’s seemingly a Golden Era Hip Hop requirement in tow. Pick an adjective: nostalgic, vintage, throwback. On nearly every level, Professor @ Large sounds as if it could’ve been crafted in the early 1990s.
Long time Large Pro fans will appreciate PAL. He puts his classic credentials on display immediately on the BBoy-ready opener, “Key To the City.” He discloses his unwavering Hip Hop addiction on “Kick The Habit,” which is absolutely an album standout. “Focused Up” (featuring Tragedy Khadafi and Cormega) feels ready made for an early DJ Clue mixtape. “Straight From The Golden” (featuring Busta Rhymes) is not only PAL’s illest offering, but also the most likely to appeal to the Millennial generation, right next to “M.A.R.S.” (featuring Cormega, Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, and Saigon). Bussa Bust unleashes the LP’s seemingly lone untouchable verse, and “Large ProTools'” relentless back drop could’ve been designed for the soundtrack to an Incredible Hulk rampage.
PAL is an extremely focused listen. Possibly too focused. Sure, any boom bap laced foray down Hip Hop memory lane is expected to include throwback sensibilities. But Large Pro’s unfortunate combination of apathetic drums and limp wrist punchlines poke major holes in replay value. Johnny Storm/”Flame on…” references, for example, are at least 16 years past compelling. Lines like “My life is high profile like Meki Phife…” might’ve connected in 2002 when 8 Mile first dropped, but even that’s a doubtful assumption. Too often, PAL is lyrically frustrating.
Even with it’s short comings, Large Professor’s latest is still an enjoyable 49 minutes. Maybe it’s how the Fran Drescher shout out and the Superfly Jimmy Snuka allusion harken to a Hip Hop pre-supreme corporate consolidation, or his endearing emphasis on “rappity-raps.” Maybe it’s it’s undeniable Summertime appeal. Regardless, Professor @ Large revels in the blueprint Large Pro helped design, offering brief shots of growth or progressiveness. And somehow that’s just fine.