Venue: Jazz Cafe, London Date: 26 September 2012
Few individuals embody the essence of Hip-Hop like Flushing, Queens legend Large Professor. From his early beginnings as a student of the late, great studio wiz Paul C., to Main Source’s 1991 classic “Breaking Atoms” and his production / remix work for the likes of Nas, Common and Gang Starr, on to his own solo material, Extra P has always remained loyal to the true-school blueprint that influenced the music and culture he grew-up on in 80s / 90s NYC.
Although Large Pro might not have worked with as many known household names as some of his production peers such as DJ Premier and Q-Tip, his legacy, catalogue and reputation remain unrivalled in Hip-Hop circles, resulting in the “live guy with glasses” being cherished as something of a hero amongst rap purists.
So it was no surprise then that the announcement of Large Professor’s first London show in roughly a decade sent a wave of excitement amongst UK Hip-Hop junkies within travelling distance of the capital city.
Queensbridge’s very own Cormega opened the show with DJ Skizz manning the turntables, entertaining both the rowdy front row and remainder of the crowd with a selection of hood favourites from cult albums such as “The Realness” and “The True Meaning”. Draped in a white lounge suit topped off with a tilted baseball cap, Mega Montana stalked the stage with purpose, barely able to contain his glee as loyal fans rapped decade-old tracks word-for-word whilst reaching out for a handshake or to wave record covers in the air hoping for a signature from their QB champion. Eager to keep his supporters happy, Nas’s former rival threw the set list aside, telling Skizz to skip past certain tracks in order to keep the momentum going. A tactic which led to a somewhat disjointed performance, but one that ultimately kept those dedicated Mega die-hards pushed tightly against the stage happy enough.
Large Pro made his way down the Jazz Cafe stairs immediately after Cormega’s final track to the sound of loud cheers and applause, appearing a little overwhelmed as he settled into his place in the spotlight, announcing “We’re here!” before launching straight into the timeless Main Source classic “Peace Is Not The Word To Play” which was followed by the brilliant “Snake Eyes”.
Barely pausing between tracks, Extra P literally powered his way through a non-stop selection of quality bangers from the past, present and everywhere inbetween. The rolling drums of the Marco Polo-produced “The Radar” boomed from the speakers to an enthusiastic crowd response, whilst further Main Source sureshots such as “Just A Friendly Game Of Baseball” and “Just Hangin’ Out” took those in attendance further down memory lane, with Large Pro’s voice sounding as clear and commanding today as it did on those original tracks some twenty years ago.
Taking a moment to thank everyone for their support (which the Professor stated helped to “keep (him) alive”), the king from Queens continued on his musical mission, dropping the smooth Nas-assisted “Stay Chisel” (asking the crowd “You know whose voice that is, right?” as Mr. Jones could be heard reciting the hook), along with the crisp “Radioactive” from 2002’s “1st Class” album and the sublime 90s classic “I JusWannaChill”.
Of course no Large Professor performance would be fully complete without a few signature tracks and the multi-talented producer-on-the-mic didn’t disappoint, leading the crowd in a call-and-response session over the pounding bass of “Fakin’ The Funk”, reliving past relationship dramas with “Looking At The Front Door” and spitting his rapid-fire rhymes from the classic posse cut “Live At The Barbeque” with the hunger and determination of an upcoming artist rather than the been-there-done-that approach of a proven veteran.
Reuniting with Cormega for “Focused Up” from his recent “Professor @ Large” album (strangely there was no performance of the popular “Key To The City”), Extra P then exited the stage, leaving his NY ally to sign an endless stream of autographs as he headed for the dressing-room.
A brilliant display of pure, uncut beats and rhymes, Large Pro’s London performance could only have further cemented his well-deserved reputation as a genuine Hip-Hop icon amongst those who were there. Salute!
Footage of Large Professor at the Jazz Cafe filmed by Shortee Blitz.