7 August, 2012@3:41 pm
There was a time when Large Professor was regularly mentioned next to names like DJ Premier and Pete Rock, but unlike his more prolific brethren, Extra P has instead taken almost Dr. Dre-lengths of time to release full-length albums. And like the good doctor’s “I don’t smoke weed or cess…” line from “Express Yourself”, Large Pro has had his share of haunting, famous last words, such as “Main Source forever….” on Brand New Heavies’ Heavy Rhyme Experience (which saw the group breaking up shortly after) or “Buy the album when I drop it…” on Tribe’s “Keep It Rollin’” – only to see his cleverly titled Geffen debut, The LP, getting shelved in 1996. It wasn’t until 2002 that Large Pro actually released his first solo album, 1st Class, not following up until 2008 with Main Source. Despite having a hand in some of the biggest classic LP’s of all time – Let The Rhythm Hit Em, Illmatic, Midnight Marauders, Breaking Atoms, to name a few – Large Professor has managed to maintain a mystique over the span of his 20+ year career – something rare in this day of Twitter timeline stranglers and daily YouTube video releases.
Professor @ Large is his fourth solo LP, a surprisingly solid album that comes at a point in his career where many of his peers may have lost focus, or hung up the mic entirely. However things get off to a bit of a slow start, despite the up-tempo “Key To The City” kicking things off. This and the bag pipe driven “UNOWHTMSAYN” aren’t bad, but are far from the album’s best material. “Straight From The Golden” – a more modern take on the Extra P sound might leave some head-scratching, as he trades rhymes with Busta in double-time. Despite this arguably rocky beginning, the classic Large Pro sound looms under all of it, as very familiar samples are subtly used in not-so-obvious ways.
The album begins to really hit it’s stride on “Focused Up” – a classic 90′s driven collabo with Cormega and Tragedy, complete with horny-horns and call-and-response hook. The same can be said for “Happy Days R Here”, a duet with Lil Fame of M.O.P. that begs where he found such an ill sample for the hook, or infectious head-nodder “Light Years”, which finds him cashing in his old school credibility checks with ease. Comfortably settled in, it’s at this midway point where he starts to reward listeners with a series of dope instrumental interludes like “Barber Shop Chop”, “Back In Time”, and “Sun, Star, and Crescents”, which add crazy amounts of flavor the record. Extra P is one of the few producers strong enough to pull something like this off.
He closes out strong with the Midnight Marauders-esque “Mack Don Illz” (feat. Mic Geronimo & Grand Daddy I.U.) and “Back In Time” – both of which remind us of the era he came from. Can’t forget the crate-dug gems “LP Surprise” and “Kick Da Habit”, suggesting the wait between albums is definitely worth it. The album closes with a teaser of may-never-happen supergroup project “MARS”, featuring Cormega, Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, and Saigon.
Despite the fact that the album does not come out the gate swinging, once it gets going, it’s clear that Large Professor has delivered one of the year’s best indie LP’s with Professor @ Large, and perhaps his strongest solo LP to date. While it’s clear that he’s a producer first and emcee second, he excels so greatly on the boards that it makes up for any nit-picky shortcomings in the rhymes. Hopefully he doesn’t stay “at large” for too long, as this album will leave heads begging for more.
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