Friday, October 05, 2007

Large Professor (William Paul Mitchell)

Widely known initially for his work as a producer and MC with the rap group Main Source, Large Professor soon after became a full-time producer working with such acts as Big Daddy Kane and A Tribe Called Quest. Professor originally became involved in rap when he won a tryout held by Main Source members K-Cut and Sir Scratch in 1989. Contributing significantly to the creative direction of the group, Professor eventually broke with Main Source over creative differences . He then lent his hand to albums by some of rap's biggest names, including Eric B. & Rakim, Nas, and Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth. For his full-length solo debut, 2002's 1st Class, Large Professor called in favors from friends including Nas, Q-Tip, and Busta Rhymes.



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He was programming beats and producing records for hip-hop legends while still a teenager, but Large Professor waited nearly a decade to put out his own album. If 1st Class isn't as exciting as any of his outside productions (which are simply begging for a greatest-shots collection), it's because LP tries to handle nearly everything himself. The album's five tracks in before we finally hear a guest, and it's a long wait — Large Professor doesn't have much to say on a track like "Brand New Sound" (with his beats or his rhymes), and he repeats the title enough to make it sound more like desperation than defiance. A three-track spate of features finds him trading some tough rhymes with Nas, Akinyele, and Q-Tip, though here Q-Tip is basically reduced to freestyling over the choruses. Large Professor gets back to boasting with "Born to Ball," but he doesn't prove up to the task. Either more space for guests, or a little more time in the studio would've resulted in a better effort than this half-baked record.
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Recording Date 1992-1993. In a just world, a review of this album would have been simply about the music. Instead, this is a story riddled with tales of record-label politics, high expectations, poorly pressed bootlegs, and careers put on hold. In 1993 Large Professor made an appearance as a guest MC on A Tribe Called Quest's "Keep It Rollin'," a track he produced for their Midnight Marauders album. The last line of his verse, "buy the album when I drop it," has since become a classic of golden-era New York rap. Unfortunately, it was for the wrong reasons. As it turns out, the world would have to wait another nine years for a proper full-length solo debut, 2002's 1st Class. It wasn't for a lack of effort, though. In 1996 Geffen released two Large Professor 12" singles ("IJUSWANNACHILL" and "The Mad Scientist") in anticipation of his then-forthcoming album. After a number of delays and disagreements about the album's "outdated" vibe, Geffen dropped the project, leaving it to collect dust in the label's vaults for seven years. Fortunately, Large Professor reacquired the rights to the recordings in 2002, resulting in a limited promo-only CD pressing. Fans familiar with the singles should already know what to expect here, especially since five of the album's 12 tracks were spread among the two 12"s. From a production standpoint, the sound is similar to that heard on Pro's previous full-length, Main Source's Breaking Atoms, though in a more stripped-down and mid-'90s manner. Among the highlights are the two singles, the hazy organ loop of "Hungry," and the flat-out stunning Nas collabo, "One on One." Remember, Nas was fresh from his classic debut, Illmatic, when he recorded this track, so fans that felt a little disillusioned by his later, ghetto-fabulous leanings owe it to themselves to check this track out. All said, Large Professor was never flooded with consistently interesting lyrics — and there are some flat moments here — but they never get in the way of the consistently high-quality production. A lost treasure.

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2 comments:

Jerome said...

Thanks for uping "The LP".

manolo said...

He has an amazing voice, indeed thanks for posting this one.


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