Breaking Atoms: Jul 23 1991
(the break-out, Summer of 91 album)
Large Professor may have been our age but he exhibited maturity far beyond it. Rap songs were brags and boasts, rants and anger, Large Professor’s were circumspect. That was on full display with Breaking Atoms.
I ain’t know anything about Main Source. Never saw their name in any liner notes, no guest voices, none of that. It wasn’t until later that I learned of the interconnected nature of the DJ/Producer/Crate Digging Community.
Instead I learned of Main Source from Rap City. That wasn’t too uncommon in the late 80s, early 90s. “Looking at The Front Door” was the video and to be clear, no video made could have been as good as that song. That’s a book-was-better-than-the-movie type deal, “Looking…” is a timeless, Man Anthem ESPECIALLY if you grew up a B-boy.
“And your friends don’t understand your choice of man — they speak proper while my speech is from a garbage can.”
That was my young, dating life summed up in one line. I had a penchant for dating girls who were out of my weight class who had friends that hated Rap (more on that another time), so hearing those words had me screaming, “In-Deed!”
Thanks to good o’ WRFG, before my college freshman year was out, I was provided with one of my summer anthems, “Just Hangin Out.” No song better describes the summer of 91.
We hung out at my apartment or Sayyed Munajj’s watching Farrakhan tapes. We hung out at BASTA (Brothas and Sistas Taking Action) meetings. We hung out at Russell’s Records and Sound Warehouse. We hung out in malls. Yo, we even hung out in front of King Soopers, a local grocery chain.
Then we were blessed with a video (one of Hype William’s first) for the song.
We had been anticipating Leaders of the New School’s A Future Without a Past, had played out De La Soul is Dead, had no idea that Low End Theory was coming up the pike, and were completely caught off guard by the release of Breaking Atoms.
If your first listen is anything like mine, you know if the beats aren’t tight, it don’t matter how good the rhymes are — neither were a problem on Breaking Atoms — Large Professor delivered on both fronts.
“Snake Eyes” was a great opener followed by the two aforementioned songs. Then “Large Professor” is a bridge to my most played section of the album that begins with “Just A Friendly Game of Baseball,” one of my favorite fuck-the-police anthems ever created. Using an analogy comparing baseball to racist cops? Who but Large Professor?
Aww shit, another young brother hit
I better go over my man’s crib and get the pump
Cause to the cops, shootin brothers is like playin baseball
And they’re never in a slump
I guess when they shoot up a crew, it’s a grand slam
And when it’s one, it’s a home run
But I’ma be ready with a wild pitch
“Scratch & Kut” is of the long, lost give the DJ some vein, followed by “Peace is Not The Word to Play” where P admonishes folk for using the word ‘peace’ as slang, and one of my favorite Main Source songs of all time, “Vamos a Rapiar.” Large Professor tackled the idea of entertainers doubling as rappers on that cut. This song was applicable in 91…it’s damn near prophetic now where no one knows what the hell a rapper is.
Late to the game Rap fans only know Breaking Atoms because of “Live at the BBQ” which they call the introduction of Nasty Nas (since that’s the only MC they know). But for us, this was our end of the Summer album. The album we were rocking going to club Maximillions, the album that we blasted as we (allegedly) jacked gas, the soundtrack for many a lazy day, and the only thing that we listened to until Low End Theory dropped.
We were out there doing all that young ass shit, listening to Large Professor thinking he was our elder because of his ability to articulate complex ideas, give a voice to our experiences, and expand our thoughts, meanwhile, Extra P was younger than us…and “Looking at the Front Door…” that jawn is still the anthem.