Real heads (hip-hop enthusiasts) know. That’s another way of saying most people reading this have Main Source’s watershed classic Breaking Atoms. A more pithy way of stating would be that those same cats downloaded the long-delayed (over 10 years) The LP from a source the RIAA would probably take issue with. Regardless, this is all a roundabout way of saying that producer/rapper Large Professor has released an album his disciples have wanted for years. The album for those who have, and continue to, study his teachings.
The first joint on Professor @ Large, “Key to City,” is pure Blaxploitation, drenched in the super-saturated palette of bustling New York. If Large Pro were Shaft, this is the song that would play as he beat the shit out of sucker producers and MCs.
“Straight from the Golden” is, like much of the album, a big nod to LP’s past merits (after all, he has worked with Rakim and Nas). Here LP switches from one cadence to the next and brings boom-bap to 2012 in the way that only he can (on part of “UNOWHTMSAYN” he even beat boxes the drums using the words ‘boom’ and ‘bap’). Though, the track reaches its zenith when Busta Rhymes jumps on with his “massacring everything” double-time flow, asserting that he and LP aren’t stopping anytime soon.
“M.A.R.S.” is saved for last. And, without question, it’s the best song on the album. Simultaneously an emotive banger and a passing of the torch — if the torch is the L that sparked this brilliant session between Golden Age vets (LP and Cormega) and the new, relatively speaking, Gotham guard (Action Bronson, Roc Marciano and Saigon). LP and Cormega are as solid as they’ve ever been, Bronson remains hip-hop’s most quotable with lines like “never catch a statutory / eatin’ cacciatore,” Roc Marc brings his thug wisdom in his patent g-whisper and Saigon delivers a verse here that harkens back to the hunger of Warning Shots.
Professor @ Large is for the hip-hop academic and ultimately serves as LP’s dissertation. When he raps, LP is polished and in the pocket at all times. When he’s not rhyming, his beats remind the listener that the craft of beat making is still an art. But like all products of academia, Professor @ Large is sometimes tedious and formulaic. It’s the type of thing to expect from one of the most distinguished and decorated of the hip-hop academy. As corny as it sounds, real heads know LP has earned his doctorate with this one.
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