This week’s album is Large Professor’s 1st Class.
I guess you could say that I’m a “huge” Large Professor fan. I loved his stuff with the Main Source (“Looking at the Front Door” was one of the first songs that I had mentally stuck on repeat) and he’s pretty much the sole reason why I copped Akinyele’s debut (he produced the whole thing).
Large Professor tracks that most people are familiar with are the songs he produced for Illmatic and the classic A Tribe Called Quest song “Keep it Rollin'”. What many might not know is that he had an album, The LP, which was shelved in 1996.
So when 1st Class finally dropped six years later, I was extremely excited. I was finally going to hear a Large Professor solo joint. Sadly, the album didn’t impress my ears back then.
Maybe it was the fact that it arrived at least nine years after the peak of my “Large Professor can do no wrong” phase. Maybe it just got overlooked because of another high-profile album that was released that year (though for the life of me I can’t recall what or who was big in 2002).
But that’s what this resolution is all about; giving albums that may have unfairly received little burn from me the time to shine.
I’m happy to say that 1st Class really isn’t half bad. Don’t get me wrong, it’s got flaws; Extra P’s flow can occasionally come off as choppy and sound like an MC circa 1984. And sometimes you can hear his production reaching for the commercial sound of, say, the Neptunes. But more often than not Large Pro hits his marks.
Guest spots by Busta (exhibiting the origins of his current flow on “On”) Q-Tip (waxing conscious on “In the Sun”) and Nas (living up to his hype on “Stay Chiseled”) are all high points of the album. Akinyele’s appearance sounds like everything else he’s ever done.
On a side note, I sometimes wonder if Akinyele’s persona is a result of his making his debut with Nas. I mean, the guy has got to have a complex about debuting on the same song as Nas.
But the real star of this album is the beats. The aforementioned “In the Sun” is almost haunting. “Ultimate” is a busy track, but not in a distracting way as everything is layered in perfect symmetry. “On” offers some tribal drums and “Kool” uses a familiar sample, but Large makes it feel like a nice summer cruising jam. “Alive in Stereo” feels like Extra P was trying to imagine what the future sounds like, and it sounds intriguing. “Hip Hop”‘s only flaw is that, since Nas rhymed over a nearly identical beat for “Star Wars” it’s hard to forget how Nas killed it.
This is one album that I really regret neglecting. But regardless of how I neglected it, it still sounds great, even five years later.