May 28, 2009

Large Professor - 1st Class (October 8, 2002)

William Paul Mitchell, the producer-slash-rapper known as Large Professor and not the guy who banks off of massive sales of hair care products, is known as one of the best hip hop producers of all time. He co-founded Main Source, a rap group that lasted for exactly the length of two albums (only one of which LP had anything to do with), has produced many classic tracks (including one sort of famous one in which he helps introduce some no-name rapper named Nasir Jones to the world), and infamously pleaded with his fans to buy his solo album The LP when he dropped it (during his guest spot on A Tribe Called Quest's "Keep It Rollin'"). The LP was recorded, mastered, and ready to distribute in 1996, but his label, Geffen Records, suffered from label woes so severe that they called the whole thing off.

Large Pro eventually signed with another label, Matador Records, and recorded a brand new album, 1st Class, in 2002. Sadly, Queens did not represent, and nobody bought the album when he dropped it, even though he had purchased the masters of The LP back from Geffen and burned the songs to promotional discs for each copy of 1st Class that was sold by

The man has been through a lot.

Large Professor has been in the game for a couple of decades now, and even though commercial success has eluded him time and time again, all the man really wants to do is work. And what he does is make some hot fucking beats. He has been blessed with the ability to program instrumentals that sound like soundtracks to hip hop space travel, and has garnered many connections within the industry to make almost anybody sound good over them. He is even available to deejay parties, people! What more do you want?

Clearly, this intro is supposed to lead to something.

W.P. spits one verse over a beat that just sounds good. His rhymes are okay to decent, but the man has never been known as a rapper first.

This beat fucking rocks. LP also sounds refreshed, as if he woke up from a four-year catnap. This track, unfortunately, boosts your hopes up for the rest of 1st Class. Just try to enjoy it for what it is.

The music actually sounds like it would have been better suited to a skit or an interlude. I realize that's a bizarre critique, but at least it's honest. Lyrically, LP sounds decent on here, and, thankfully, the track is relatively short.

It's goofy to hear LP call out “motherfuckers”, if only because it sounds kind of forced. But his instrumental sounds rushed and incomplete, which doesn't really help matters.

The reunion of Nasir Jones and Large Professor is surprisingly uninteresting. Indeed, I found myself bored out of my fucking mind up until LP's last line, during which he dubs the track as “BBQ 2” (a reference to “Live At The Barbecue”, an early Main Source song on which Nas made his debut), with Extra P rhyming, once again, alongside Nas and...

One of the most appropriately-named hip hop songs in recent memory. Akinyele simply goes in on a nice, slightly spacey Large Pro instrumental. This shit is good enough for you to wish that Ak would put the squeegee down and get back to writing.

Regardless of the participation of Q-Tip, I was nonplussed by this track, which wasn't actually produced by LP, but rather by Xplicit. Whenever you have to strain your ears to locate some semblance of melody, that's a sign that you may as well just skip the song. Which is a shame, as I very much liked Extra P's contribution on A Tribe Called Quest's “Keep It Rollin'”.

At least the beat manages to awaken the listener. This track would have worked better as a collaboration with other hip hop heavyweights, but then we wouldn't have been blessed with LP's final verse, where he strings together the titles of songs he either released or produced during his long and storied career. Groan.

This track wasn't that bad, nonexistent “hook” notwithstanding. I chuckled when LP addresses the hip hop game's “fake 2Pacs” as “fake Gilda Radners”. Can't say I saw that correlation coming.

After trying to fake out listeners, Extra P reuses the same vocal sample that he utilized when he produces “You're The Man” for Nas, a fact that he sort of cops to at the beginning of his third verse. (I wouldn't be surprised if this version of the beat was the original, which was then tweaked for Nasir.) The beat could pull back on the drums a bit (they threaten to take over Large Professor's world), but otherwise, this shit is pretty entertaining.

I wasn't sure that Large Professor had the balls to title one of his songs after himself, but clearly I was mistaken. The beat is much more energetic than most of what's appeared so far, but I'm actually left wishing for more collaborators, even though, given the title of this track, I'm not sure that they would make any sense.

The title itself is unabashedly awesome. The song, well, not so much. And I'm not just saying that because LP's repetition of the phrases “No question!” and “Word!” taint the hook.

I liked the beat, but the lyrics left a lot to be desired, especially the “hook”, which I'm almost positive took Large Pro over four months to write. Also, the title implies that this is a sequel to a song called “Blaze Rhymes”, which is just confusing for all parties involved.

I quite liked this one. The beat is much more low-key than what you would expect Busta Rhymes to spit over, but he works it to his advantage. You probably won't bump this shit in your car or anything, but it's enjoyable to listen to.

Extra P should either take a correspondence course in how to write a chorus, or he should abandon that idea and just let the rhymes hit the beat uninhibited. That said, this song is really good. The beat (usurped for “Star Wars”, a Nas song that appeared on the ten-year rerelease of Illmatic) will probably be familiar to most folks that read this blog, but even though Nasir did a better job with it (I would certainly hope he did), LP is no slouch.

This beat is at least forty-three types of awesome. I can understand why LP opted to keep it for himself, but I seriously think that this could have been a pretty sizeable hit for somebody else, had he been willing to sell it. (Instead, he released this as a single, and my understanding is that it was a just-below-minor hit.) The title is a bit corny, but otherwise I loved this shit. This is how you should end an album, people! The brief instrumental that follows pales in comparison to this one.

FINAL THOUGHTS: 1st Class is a mixed bag. Although he is a veteran in the hip hop game for a damn good reason, Large Professor has never been anybody's cup of teal lyrically, and hearing him perform throughout the entire album (save for “Akinyele”) is laughable in spots. Behind the boards is where the man truly shines, and on 1st Class he doesn't disappoint, crafting extraterrestrial soundscapes (at least for the three-fourths of the album he handles himself) with enough of that New York boom bap to help bring you back down to Earth. I personally think that this project would have been more effective as a Pete Rock Soul Survivor thing, with multiple guests on nearly every song, but I'm sure that's just everyone.

BUY OR BURN? It depends. If you're like me and have a fond appreciation of instrumentals, then pick this one up. If you're from the Ras Kass “lyrics are all that matter” school, then I'm not even sure that you should bother burning this one, as you're destined to be disappointed.

BEST TRACKS: “Radioactive”; “Akinyele”; “Hip Hop”; “'Bout That Time”; “On”


"The Mad Scientist", from the never-officially-released The LP:



  1. LP comes off as a nerd but the man's flow is ferocious. He has the type of voice that commands respect and I give him credit for not selling out to stay "relevant". His creations speak for themselves and as a figure of the new school (at that time) I can truly call him a creative legend.

  2. The use of Vincent Price's laugh from thriller was unexpected in the video. Also the use of the Sony Mini-Disc was totally hilarious. I liked how everyone thought that was the wave of the future. Although I do have to give props to the backpack record player. Don't know how that would work, but totally cool. Maybe you should hire the guy to play for your birthday. Better yet, you can buy out one of the Vegas night clubs and have this guy as a permanent DJ. This would qualify for stimulus package money. I swear!

  3. Cut Chemist performs with something like the backpack turntable, only he slings it over his shoulder and scratches vertically so the crowd can see. I'm not sure if he does it at his solo shows, having never attended one, but I saw him doing it with Jurassic 5. You can also see it in the concert footage on the bonus DVD edition of 'Power in Numbers'.

  4. AnonymousJuly 11, 2009

    "Not everybody's cup of tea lyrically"
    You're buggin'. This album was a banger.
    Large rips shit. He got that flow that makes people shut the fuck up and listen. Maybe you shoulda done that.

  5. AnonymousJuly 24, 2009

    yo in the sun is so fucking dope, what are you on? are you fucking retarded?

  6. Yu should review "The LP" now that it's been released. It would suit this site perfectly since it's a collection of songs recorded a while ago, and released in today's time. It would be a pretty interesing read too.


    P.S. This was posted on my 20th birthday.

  7. just to let you know, LP released an EP in 2001 before he dropped this album with the original song "Blaze Rhymes" on it, with the song "Back to Back" on the B side. This helps explain the whole "Blaze Rhymes 2" thing.

  8. AnonymousJune 09, 2011

    you are buggin about in the sun though idk what u were thinkin

  9. AnonymousMay 09, 2015

    "Large Professor has never been anybody's cup of tea lyrically"

    You're out of your goddamn mind!! NOBODY liked the lyrics on Breaking Atoms & Fakin The Funk??!! NOBODY likes the lyrics on The LP?! Hell, Nas says he helped him improve his writing on motherfucking ILLMATIC!!!

    But yeah, he did fall off lyrically in the '00s, with the exception of his extra songs on his '09 release of The LP & that Back & 4th Scrambler track with Yu Mamiya-san.