MC/producer Large Professor finally delivers with 1st Class, a back-to-basics disc with simple, trash-talking couplets that don’t lay the bitches and ’hos on too heavy. The album itself is more than a dozen years in the making — he’s been promising a solo disc ever since 1989, when his Main Source outfit dropped the timeless Breaking Atoms, which is now considered a Golden Era masterpiece. LP doesn’t bother trying to reinvent the game he helped formulate back then, and neither does he attempt to fool fickle new fans with over-the-top bullshit, posse chants, or irritating cameos by R&B chicks. In fact he rarely passes the microphone on to anyone else, though he does get some assistance from Nas and an extra gruff Akinyele, both of whom got their vocal debut on "Live at the BBQ," a gritty cipher jam from Breaking Atoms. Q-Tip drops in for "In the Sun," a track full of soothing beats and gospel choruses that attests to LP’s musical maturity. And on the final verse of "Born To Ball," Xtra P runs down his impressive recording résumé.
Elsewhere, lyrics are carved around basic drum loops, a formula that has allowed pioneers like Gangstarr and the Diggin in the Crates camp to continue moving units across three decades. The ethereal flute loop on "Kool" evokes Main Source memories, dramatic violins decorate "The Man," and the bouncy beats on "Large Pro" and "On" should quell modern-day nay-sayers. But LP gets his message across clearest in "Hip Hop": "Throw the pretty boy playmate fashionstyle out the window/Y’sounding like a bimbo/I’m a bring forth the flame and rekindle/What it is all y’all need to remember."