When you become a journalist, you quickly come to realize that not all interviews are created equal. When I came to know the one they call Large Professor, I’m sure I stereotyped him along with the rest of the world. He didn’t look like Run DMC, Ice T or KRS-One. But he didn’t have to because before his release, The Native Tongues featuring A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, helped us to embrace difference in Hip Hop. So when we saw the intelligent hoodlum from Queens on our tv set, it made us pause to get past the Poindexter glasses to listen to what the rapper really had to say. Not to mention, with songs like “Looking At The Front Door” “Fakin The Funk” & “Live At The Bar B Que” you couldn’t deny his raw talent. Who knew that he would go on to be a fraction of the dynamic production squad that would produce THE hip-hop classic Nas’s Illmatic. Large Professor is the name you mention in certain hip hop circles when you want to impress high ranking hip-hop scholars.
While watching certain Hip Hop documentaries such as ATCQ’s Beats, Rhymes Life, Memories of Paul C McKasty & Nas’s Illmatic and a host of others, you’ll notice that they don’t get Large Professors inputs because of what he’s heard, they look to get his input because he was there. Right smack dab in the middle of The Golden Era. Right in the midst of New York’s comeback. Right in the midst of the beef between Jay and Nas. He’s always honored as being a dope lyricist and a phenomenal producer. To snag an interview with him is like a Jedi grabbing wisdom from Yoda.
Sidenote: As fate would have it, energy is real, and whether good or bad, it transfers. The day of our interview, I was not having a very good day, but I had already rescheduled the interview the day before, and there was no way I was going to stall The Legend a second day. So I set all of my recording equipment up the way I normally do and wait until Large Pro calls. As we’re going thru the interview, I’m hearing my mixer shorting. I’m sweating, and I almost break down because in all things, I love to present professionalism and I don’t want him to know something is wrong. After 6 minutes, my mixer shorts out completely and I had to go super old school and write everything out short hand. After 11 min we both agreed it was time to take what I had and make it work. Never the less it was a classic interview, and I would have even appreciated 2 minutes with The Legendary Large Professor.
OTT: First of all can I say, what a privilege it is to have an exclusive interview wit da hip hop god, but seriously I want to thank you for all you’ve done for this culture. I want to start off by talking about the love you get overseas vs. the love you get on your homeland. As I follow you on your page, I’m always seeing someone fly you out to do a show overseas. There are many stories of artists like yourself that are rockstars in the UK, Africa and especially China & Japan…why is that?
ExtraP: Well that’s simple. As with anything that is rare is treasured. Those countries didn’t get to see Hip Hop in it’s truest form on a regular basis. At home, you might see me and Mr. Cheeks hangin out on a corner at a bodega or in a club. You have people in America that actually watched us grown from nothing to somethings. Over there, all they have is what they see on tv. They know that Hip Hop started in America, so they pay homage to that. They collect and take care of the records we made that are classics to them. The US is just so used to seeing one artist after another; we can get a little spoiled. And furthermore, we don’t even carry ourselves like that at home. Cats over here might see us in the park and be like “Boom, yo there go Large Professor” and just leave it at that. As to over there, a cat may be in awe because it’s not every day you gonna see a cat like Raekwon just randomly walking down the street.
One more thing, they cherish their history over there. For example, overseas, they keep their historical buildings alive. Over here we can have a monumental building today, and it will be a parking lot tomorrow. But there they keep their traditions alive as the same with Hip Hop.
OTT: With your legendary status in the game, Large Pro…how do you stay so humble? I mean you still touch the people in a way like you never had hit records and like your name doesn’t ring bells in this culture.
ExtraP: Yeah, but see the whole thing about it, with you saying that, be clear, It’s About The Culture! It’s the culture that keeps me humble because this is what we do! Just like families have family traditions to it’s just certain things they do as a family. Nobody’s a star at the family table right? That’s what it is in Hip Hop. In fact, people look at you strangely when you on that. This is what we relay when we’re in a place like Australia. It’s like, I’m no different than you, I just have a story to tell.
OTT: We know you for being in the legendary group Main Source, but you are a legendary producer as well. When you’re are producing, do you get into all the latest gadgetry or do you like to keep it classic?
ExtraP: Akai MPC 1000 is my weapon of choice man. I mean don’t get me wrong, I can still nerd out on you if the conversation calls for that, but if you’re not a producer, then I’ll just keep it simple and say MPC. Hahahaha.
OTT: As I follow your page and Mr. Cheeks page, I see a lot of Queens rappers unifying lately, such as recording, doing shows together and just altogether hanging out. What sparked that?
ExtraP: Whoa! Be clear…Like there was never a time where that didn’t happen. Just yesterday It was me, Cheeks and Nas in the studio building. Through that building can come a session, through that session can come a song or a single. You just never know. We come together for the music man! It’s like wine tasting amongst brethren. It’s like sitting on stoop do0-wopping. We come from the same place, so we’re always going to have that connection.
OTT: Large, you were on the Beats Rhymes and Life documentary. Considering Tribe is from Queens, what are your thoughts on the memory of Phife Dawg.
ExtraP: Dang man….ummmm what can I say. Phife was……Damn man…..Phife was what I call The Perfect Trooper. He the type where you look at him like, you he knows where he’s headed and how he wants things to be. A level headed person. Real cool cat. Phife was my guy. Damn man…The Perfect Trooper that’s all I want to say about that.
OTT: Lastly Large….20, 30 years from now, what do you want your legacy to look like?
ExtraP: I can’t answer that B. I’m still adding to the culture. It would be a different story if I was done but I’m not. Right now I’m still creating; I’m still digging, still doing shows and still building my relationships like no one even knows my history. People can have their opinions about the culture, but if you’re not actively adding to the culture then what’s the point? People can say this and that about what I’ve done and what I haven’t done, but to the people that know me and love me…..I’m just Large P man.