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New American Songbook

The Expanding Understanding of Large Professor

bennett4senate / Flickr / Creative Commons

The producer Large Professor has worked with many of the greatest names in hip hop: Nas, Busta Rhymes and Common, to name just three. While never achieving the superstar status of mainstream producers like Pharell or Timbaland, Large Professor, who is also known as Xtra P, has held his own in hip hop for nearly 30 years. Here he is with the group Main Source, from 1991:

Large Professor’s signature sound is a classic New York vibe: heavy on jazz samples and a wide range of instrumentation, with a rhythm that is firmly in the pocket. His lyrics are like his beats—meticulous but not staid, precise without being overly clever, infused with references to and respect for hip hop history.

In the more than 40 years that hip hop has existed, the culture has shifted focus from the block to the entire country and finally to a globalist perspective. In some ways, this growth has also been accompanied by a shallow understanding of the art. Large Professor has made a career out of avoiding this trap, steadily expanding his reach while never sacrificing his depth of understanding, following the hip hop maxim: ‘It’s not where you’ve been, it’s where you’re at’.