Large Professor Speaks About His Lost Tapes With Nas (Video)
Nas typically keeps it strictly business when it comes to his social media usage so when he does take a moment to pause and get personal, it is notably with intention. On Thursday (March 21), the prolific MC took to Instagram to wish Large Professor and DJ Premier a happy birthday, thanking both Illmatic producers for playing integral mentorship roles early on in his career, respectively. The Queens, New York native then reflected on meeting Large Professor when he was only 17 years old, going on to big up the veteran producer for showing him how to “properly lay vocals” and help him structure songs, to name a few cherished lessons.
During a newly-released interview with VladTV, Large Professor returns the nostalgic sentiment, discussing how he first crossed paths with a then-aspiring MC through Joe Fatal. Their meeting was clearly destined, with all three collaborating on Main Source’s iconic track, “Live At The Barbeque.” The song, which also introduced Akinyele, appeared on the album Breaking Atoms, doubled as Nas’ first-ever appearance on wax.
“Joe Fatal was like the street, the connect, you know what I’m saying. He’s Uptown, Downtown, all around, you know kind of thing,” Large reflected at the 2:00 mark. “Me and Joe Fatal are like childhood friends, like five years old type-sh*t in Flushing, so he moved away and then when he came back, he was this Long Island City, Queensbridge dude now. Like yo, man, I be out in Queensbridge, I got [Tragedy Khadafi], I’ma bring Trag’ through. It was like ‘Word you make beats? Aight, aight.’ He click-clacked everything with me and Nas.”
After touching on how Joe Fatal (who also raps on “Live At The Barbeque”) initially introduced him to Nas, the conversation shifted to the nature of their early collaborations and the material they worked on at the beginning of their now-decades long friendship.
“Fatal was like, we’re going to record a demo, so we went to Coney Island and they came and picked me up from school,” he shared. “I was bringing the drum machine to school type-sh*t. So it was like we’re going to meet up after and go… We had tons of demos.”
Vlad then asks if the 1991 Main Source collaboration was the first Nas-Large Professor link. “We had mad demos; we had tons of demos,” says “the Mad Scientist” at 3:30. “We had ‘550 Fahrenheit,’ ‘Top Choice Of The Female Persuasion,’ we had mad demos, during the Eric B. & Rakim time. It was a few of them. Shout out to my man G-Wiz, Ill Will, all of them—Jungle used to be there. He used to be sitting in the studio, early-ass in the morning. Definitely.” According to several accounts, Eric B. & Rakim blocked off studio sessions for Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em, which Large Professor worked extensively on in an un-credited capacity. When Rakim or Eric did not show, the producer worked with Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, Akinyele, Nas, and others.
Vlad asks what happened to these tapes. “They are somewhere out there,” Extra P says, revealing an exciting gem about their very existence. “That’s the crazy thing about it. I think Nas has the tapes. I think once the bread was good, he was like, ‘Yo, I secured them tapes.’ I remember him telling me that one time. They are somewhere out in the world.” However, P also suggests that some of those early ’90s rhymes were recycled other places. “The thing with good artists, you’ve probably heard some of them rhymes, ’cause dudes be doin’ the mix-or-clicks on rhymes.” On subsequent editions of Illmatic, Nas—who co-owns Mass Appeal Records—has released songs such as “I’m A Villain,” along with alternate mixes of his 1994 cuts.
Next, the veteran producer/MC/DJ waxes poetic on how he realized from the jump that Nas was fated to do some incredible things for the culture at large, even years prior to dropping his seminal classic, 1994’s Illmatic.
“I always knew. I went through so many stages of Hip-Hop and life to be confident enough to know what it was. This is it,” he explained. “Ain’t no question about that. You go through enough to know, that’s that sh*t. Whenever I heard Nas, I’d be like, nah he’s ill. He’s going to be big.”
From referring to Nas’ lyrical prowess as “the beginning of shock rap,” in how it made a person react strongly and revisit what he spit in order to process the meaning, to explaining how he connected with the MC due to his humble nature, Large Professor is among those from Queens who experienced firsthand how “the Borough was peaking with pride” when the legendary rapper began solidifying his path in Hip-Hop.
“Nas was humble. He’d always say some out of the ordinary sh*t, you know what I’m saying. I’ll always say that. He’d always say something out of the ordinary but then he’d say something cool and humble,” he noted. “‘I sip the Dom P, watchin’ Gandhi.’ There’s no knucklehead-ass kid out there in the street, you know, watching Gandhi. You know there’s a peaceful part of him; he’s got the patience to watch Gandhi but he’s getting twisted on some hood sh*t. It was things like that.”
Given their past work together, as well as their ability to still inspire one another all these years later, it goes without saying that these two are not only proud of what they’ve accomplished together, but extremely grateful for the opportunity to share such historic experiences together.
#BonusBeat: Part 1 of Vlad’s conversation with the Extra P: