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Large Professor, Part 2: 'I Really Live Through This Music'

Large Professor earlier this year.
Sun Bronx
Courtesy of Distrolord
Large Professor earlier this year.

This is the second half of Microphone Check's interview last year with producer and rapper Large Professor. You can listen to and read part one here. Part two covers the making of Illmatic, Paul C's role and Ali's favorite Extra P lines.

ALI SHAHEED MUHAMMAD: Can I go back to — I know you probably have some questions.

FRANNIE KELLEY: I'll get there.

MUHAMMAD: I want to ask, going back a little bit, on "Mad Scientist," why did you repeat the verse?

LARGE PROFESSOR: Repeat the verse.

MUHAMMAD: The third verse.

LARGE PROFESSOR: It was like the exclamation point. It was like, "Alright. We're not going to keep going with this cause I'm not" — I'm a little angry, or maybe I'm a little mad. Or not even angry. I'm just a little mad, like maybe a little out of my mind, but I'm not — right — but I'm not angry. I'm not like, "Oh, I want to go out into the world," like on some — no, nah, it was none of that. And you know what? Let me repeat this for you because this is — I'm not like going on and on about why I'm upset like, "Oh, I'm — and furthermore, this is why." It was just like, "Let's bring it back to the origin of this and just" --

And then, a lot of times, on the tapes they would do that. I remember that style where they would do that. Some dudes would run their rhymes just over and over. You would hear different tapes and it would be the same rhyme over and over. So it was just like, yeah, that right there. That old style right there.

MUHAMMAD: I liked that. It just felt passionate. Like, "In case you didn't" --

LARGE PROFESSOR: Right. "In case you didn't catch that." Right. Right. Definitely.

MUHAMMAD: With The LPalbum, did that not come out? That didn't come out.

LARGE PROFESSOR: That didn't come out.

MUHAMMAD: That was like the crazy — you just had to know somebody that know somebody that just passed you the tape or — what was — I'm asking because I want to know what your experience was from dealing with record companies and from where it was now to where you are now, you releasing your own records. So can you explain what happened with that album?

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yes. With that album, that album was supposed to be the coming of the Large Professor. And it was like, "Alright. The guy from Main Source." But it was kind of crazy because I was coming off a little bit of bad energy. I was keeping my hip-hop vest on, and I was just — I wasn't looking at it professionally, I don't think. Because even the verse that I kicked on our joint, on the Tribe joint, I was just a little — where I was with it, I was on the rebellious tip, just that rebel vibe. Just like, "Yo, man. F--- this and f--- the world." That kind of thing.

So how I was doing it at that time, like I was holding on to that. And what was happening in the industry at that time was a lot of dudes were like, "Hey, we're just happy to be here. We flossing. Things are good and we got the CD deck with the mansion" kind of thing. And here I am; I'm like, "Nah. Nah. Yo." And it's like, "You know, P, the industry's getting good now. Dudes are getting big deals." And I'm like, "Yo, nah, but let's not --"

It was kind of like Rocky. Oh, wow. Look at that.

MUHAMMAD: It's alright.

LARGE PROFESSOR: It was kind of like Rocky where he was kind of getting a little lofty with it, and he was really just chilling. And it was like, you know, he got knocked out. Apollo Creed had to come like, "Nah, you gotta get hungry." I just always wanted to stay hungry, even though I had — I was doing great. But I didn't just wanted to be like, "Oh, I got this and you don't have that. Yo, I got the house." I don't like that style of rap, even to this day. That's not 100 to me. I don't like that at all.

That's not hip-hop. We were always on the each-one-teach-one kind of thing. I also studied early in my life like the Nation of Islam, the Five Percent Lessons. So it was just always — that's always in my heart. So it's like, nah, you can't do that. You can't say, "I got and you don't." That's not what we come from. We come from, "Yo, if I got you got." That kind of thing. So I didn't like that style of rap.

So just the energy that was going on. It was, at that time, Puff, Big. They were out there and just kind of doing it, and that's just not where the industry was at. And the industry matters. The industry, the waves of the industry matter.

MUHAMMAD: In what way? What do you mean?

LARGE PROFESSOR: The wave. Like, at that time, the wave was everyone talk about how much money they have. You know what I'm saying?

KELLEY: To be clear, we're talking '95?


KELLEY: '94, '95.



LARGE PROFESSOR: Stuff like that. It was starting to get like, "Yo, everything's good. I'm chilling. The helicopter. The money." Stuff like that. I still to this day I love rock, reggae, and it's always been rebel music. And that's how I see hip-hop. Even to this day, hip-hop is rebel music. It's now a lot of people don't know the roots and the origin, and it's just like, "Ah, OK. Hip-hop is good, and they're chilling."

But we know the origin. It's like, nah, it wasn't always good. We come from where garbage cans were on fire. You had to breathe that. Just crazy stuff. I did need to let go. Cause it wasn't like that anymore. It wasn't like that anymore. It was like, "Nah, the garbage cans are not on fire anymore, P. Yo, let that effort go and just" — that kind of thing. But I just always wanted to embrace that. So it just wasn't time for that album when --

MUHAMMAD: So did you stop it from coming out or --



LARGE PROFESSOR: I was recording with — I was working with Geffen Records, and they were 100% behind me. But I just think on the checks-and-balances tip it just wasn't adding up for them. And they were just like — I got the call one day, and that was crazy to me. Cause it was like, "Huh?" It was like, "Yo, Paul, they gon' have to let you go." I was like, "Wow!" Like, wow.

But, you know, you just take that, man. You like, "Alright. Cool." I was chilling, so it was good. But then I wound up being able to put it out later on because unbeknownst to me there was really a big --

MUHAMMAD: There was a following for that record.

LARGE PROFESSOR: — desire for that. It was like, "Yo! What's up? Why didn't" — I would get that all the time. "Why didn't the record — why" — so it was like, "Alright. Cool, yo. Boom. There it is."

And just surviving that let me know it — I learned a lot of life lessons through the industry. A lot of things that you just learn in life, like you're supposed to learn — I learned a lot of lessons through the industry and that was one of them. It was just like, "Yo, you gotta" — it's a business. It's a business.

And god rest my dude Harry O, big man from Brooklyn. We were on tour, Jaz, Jay Z, U.M.C.'s, all of us. We would be on tour working with EMI and Harry O would always, with his fingers, he would always say, "Yo, Paul, it's show business." And like in the show, he would show that as something small, and show the business like as something big. And that's definitely what it is. It's a business.

MUHAMMAD: So the albums that came after — 1st Class?

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yeah, 1st Class.

MUHAMMAD: Was that your distribution or your own — I'm just trying to understand the partnerships of your records that came after that.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Right. Nah, it's just guys reaching out like, "Yo, man, we want" — that was — I was working with Matador Records, an indie rock label. And they were like, "Yo, man, we believe in you. And we want to put it out there." Cause I'm always working. I'm always working. I'm always — this is just kind of keeps me alive. I don't care if a record comes out or it doesn't. This is just what I do. So they reached out. And it's kind of always like that, someone who just reach out. Like, "Yo, we want to help you put the record out."

So 1st Classwas with Matador and then after I did a project, Main Source, where some people from Germany were like, "Yo, man, we would love for you" — cause I'm cool. I do my productions, and I'm cool with that. But I'm always like — if a beat — I'm always listening like, "Yo, man, this is what I would say to that beat." So I always have my songs that I write, and --

MUHAMMAD: Why you title that album Main Source?

LARGE PROFESSOR: It's like graffiti almost. It's almost like graffiti. It's like, when you writing on the wall, dudes would put their crew or clique or something like that. A lot of times, even with that album, it wasn't — people will notice: I'm kind of doing it like graffiti. It's like, you have one title I'm billed as the Large Professor, one I'm billed as Large Professor, one is Large Pro. And this is how we would write on walls. It would just be like, sometimes you don't write the whole thing out.

Sometimes — so it's like, Main Source, and I just want it to all kind of be just, you know, who I am. And just like, "Yeah, that's him, man. That's who he" — all that I embody in this music industry. My last project was Professor @ Large. It's just always — and that's how we would write on the walls. It would just be like a little caption or a clique or something like that, like "Large Professor, Professor At Large" kind of thing. So that's kind of the graffiti side living right there.

MUHAMMAD: Keeping it hip-hop always.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yeah, got to, got to.

MUHAMMAD: So you know one of the things I liked about — I don't know if it was something you thought about or it's just the way the creator works, but one of the biggest songs from Breaking Atoms was a relationship song.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yes. "Looking At The Front Door."

MUHAMMAD: "Looking At The Front Door." So I listen to Main Source, your album, and "Sewin' Love" stood out to me. And I was like, "That's a relationship song."

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yeah. It's funny. Because that's the song a lot of people said, "Yo, you should've ran with that song." And that's funny because that is a relationship song that is written about my relationship with a drum machine.


LARGE PROFESSOR: With a drum machine. "You did exactly what I want you to. Latitude, longitude. Gotta do the lunch or two. When I'm in the dungeon mood, you lift me out of that. Strings are not attached, to our love." It's like, "When you and I combine, I hit the right circuits." You know what it is? Word. I think that song later in life --

And that's — what I know is even how we collect records and we look for the rarest records, I feel these songs will, later in life, they'll be heralded as some good little works there. Like, "Ah, man, this is" — one of these generations will catch on and be like, "Wow, this guy, he was on some — yo, that's cool."

MUHAMMAD: I didn't know that, and maybe I need to go back and listen a little bit more.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Now when you go back — yeah.

KELLEY: That song was getting you through some hard times.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yeah, I said, "Under my arm, thunderstorm." Like, "the people, yo, under my arm, walking on the Me And You Avenue."

MUHAMMAD: It's so many metaphors in there, you know what I mean?

LARGE PROFESSOR: Definitely. Check it out.

MUHAMMAD: It's just filled. It's laced up.

LARGE PROFESSOR: I might even need — and that's funny. Because I did two versions of that song. I might need to put that out there, cause a lot of people came to me about that song. So thank you, brother man. Thank you.

MUHAMMAD: Thank you. So then you put out Still On The Hustle.


MUHAMMAD: Which is just — the title is just so you.

LARGE PROFESSOR: No. Well, that was actually spearheaded by Neek The Exotic. Cause he's the hustler. Like, I'm just the guy that likes to create, and he's the hustler. He's out there. He's getting his hustle on. So that was cool because to hook back up with him and, that guy, he was, at that time, man, — he was really right there. Now, he's good to go from here on. You remember at the times when we were doing the cover with Midnight Maraudersand everything, he was still embracing that corner life kind of hard, and so --

KELLEY: You mean when you were getting your picture taken for the Midnight Marauderscover?

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yes, yes, yes. Neek is on that album — Neek is on the album cover too. And he was still kind of one foot in, one foot out with the street thing. So he had to — but then once we got together for Still On The Hustle, he was ready. He had a more professional mind towards --

MUHAMMAD: What made you go into that album? It seemed like a full-on collaboration.


MUHAMMAD: I don't know. I could be wrong. But what made you do that like that and present it like that?

LARGE PROFESSOR: It was just time. It was time. Sometimes, when you going out here as a solo artist, people want to see like, "Yo, who you with?"


LARGE PROFESSOR: Like Jay said, "Who you with?" Like, "You need more people." That kind of thing. I definitely want to show, nah, I'm not out here by myself. Like, we still rocking. Everything's still good; everybody's still good. We went through our little hip-hop phases and our little gripes and arguments, but we got love. We definitely — the root of this is love.

And no matter what there's no one that you went out here and made moves with that — "you ain't got love for me? What?" No. No. It don't go down like that. It's like, nah. We got love for one another. So, life happens, and along with that, then it's just like, "You know what, man? We gotta make this happen, man."

MUHAMMAD: I like seeing that, for you.


MUHAMMAD: Because I know you have so much knowledge and experience. And still just there's a lot there you haven't even unleashed or the catalogue of stuff you could go back to, but — I don't know about you, but it's like, yeah, catalogue is cool, but I always like starting fresh. Cause I'm still finding things that I'm like, "Oh this is crazy!"


MUHAMMAD: Now, at 43.

But I just like seeing you in that collaborative setting presented like that, and I would like to see more of it.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Definitely. Definitely. I got something nice that I'm going to output, seeing our brother. You know, he's got some nice things.

MUHAMMAD: I mean like full-on album, you know what I mean?

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MUHAMMAD: You always celebrate with the crew record. There's one --


MUHAMMAD: "Live At The Barbeque" is obviously the most talked about one, because Nas was the offspring of that. How important is the crew record?

LARGE PROFESSOR: The crew record is — it's tradition. It's tradition. It's like pass-the-mic kind of — I mean, it's not important per se, but it's just tradition. It's like, "Yo, and I got this one there." Like, "He's in the studio." That's like a, "Who's in the house?" kind of thing. And it's like, we passing the mic. Instead of you shouting out like, "Yo, we got Cormega in the house. We got Trag Khadafi," it's like, nah, these dudes are on the record and we're getting busy kind of thing.

That's my thing. I just like to get busy and just put it out there to the world. Just decorate. Just put them little decorations out there for the world no matter what. Nah, but the crew record is — that's just like tradition. Just getting down.

KELLEY: Was the first one "The Symphony?"

LARGE PROFESSOR: The first one — I mean, we can go back further than that with Spoonie Gee and the Treacherous Three. I mean, there are a few, but the one that kind of of our age, yeah, definitely "The Symphony."

And it was because those dudes were just fire. Everyone was their own separate entity and just on fire at that time. So I think a lot more of the attention and just more like, "wow" — cause Kool G Rap, Kane, Masta Ace. It was like, all of these dudes are official. So that's why that might get the most attention. And the beat was hot, and just everything that about that record was just like, "Yeah, this is right."

KELLEY: And the video.

LARGE PROFESSOR: And the video. Word. The video too. Everyone doing the Western settings but they making sure that they still speaking the language with the gold and everything. I'm like, "Aaaah." Like, yo. So definitely, nah, that's nice.

KELLEY: And then Marley's in the video too.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Marley. Marley's in the video playing the piano like yo. And Kane, you know the backstory Kane couldn't make the other video so he — these were the little stories going through the hood. Like, "Yo, you know Kane? Something happened where he couldn't make that video so they had to shoot him separately" and all of that kind of stuff.

KELLEY: Uncle Ralph told us the story.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Ah, that's real.

KELLEY: It's really classic.

LARGE PROFESSOR: There's a Ralph NPR interview? Or --



KELLEY: I think it was before we fully --

LARGE PROFESSOR: Maybe off of a panel?

KELLEY: Yes. He was on our panel.

LARGE PROFESSOR: OK. OK. On the panel. OK.

MUHAMMAD: Yeah. Yeah. Has anyone ever spit anything that made you go, "Ah, man. I gotta go back and touch up something."

LARGE PROFESSOR: Nas. Nas. All the time. Nas. Like, Nas is like Nas, man. Just always. But then I'm the type of artist that I am, and I know we all have our own ways of doing things. So after a while that — once I really embraced that we're making records now and there're compositions and feelings, and different feelings, I kind of broke out of that mold of hip-hop where it was like, "Yo, that's wack." And, "Yo, that's" — that kind of thing. I don't go by that kind of thing anymore. Because just expression is expression. So it's like, nah, give that a minute and you might just love it. So definitely. But Nas, Nas, Nas. Nas, man.

KELLEY: If you wouldn't mind, we'd love to talk to you about him and Illmatic in particular. Cause we're going to put some of this on Morning Editionfor an anniversary story.


KELLEY: I was that kid who, in the '90s, was looking at the liner notes and I would see everybody's name and everything. And I would see your name, and I would slowly put two and two together. But I would also see the words Chung King over and over and over again. And I would imagine that this was this crazy place where all this wild s--- was happening all the time. Is that true?

LARGE PROFESSOR: Chung King was the place, yeah. Chung King was one of the places. Like, Chung King, the location of Chung King was great. The parking was great. The clientele --

KELLEY: Where was it exactly?

LARGE PROFESSOR: Was that Grand Street? It was like Grand Street at that time. I think it was Grand Street. I think Chung King was on Grand Street.

MUHAMMAD: Was it Centre? Was it Centre? I can't remember.

KELLEY: Varick.



MUHAMMAD: No. That's the new one.

LARGE PROFESSOR: You're talking about the new one. Nah, it was Grand Street.


LARGE PROFESSOR: It was like a factory almost. I think they had the freight elevator or something. So it was like, yo, you're going into some — "Where are we going right now?" And then you get up there and there's all this hardware on the wall, all the shiny plaques and everything.

The thing I think that made Chung King — I mean, besides being parking there and like that not being a crazy busy street — there was always parking by Chung King. But the clientele. The clientele. It's like, "Yo, who's in the other room?" "Yo, Apache. Yo, Brand Nubian. Serch." Just the clientele. Cool J. Ol' Dirty Bastard is in the other room.

And then the camaraderie. "Who's in the other room?" " Busta Rhymes. Leaders Of The New School." So it was just like the crème de la crème or like the edge, the cutting edge. Real dudes were there. So everyone having that mutual respect for one another, you know, you go in and just like, "Yo, what's up?" I think — I forgot who was in when we were doing Nas' stuff. But a few people popped in like, "Yo, what's up? I'm just gon' sit down for a second." And just like that was the thing that was dope about Chung King.

And it was never anyone that you — cause some times that was a little like, "Yo. Kind of closed session right here right now, bruh." Not really that kind of — nah, it was always someone that you like, "Yeah, man. Grab a seat" kind of thing like that. So yeah, Chung King was dope. Still is too. Still is.

KELLEY: So how much time did you spend in Chung King? You had three songs on Illmatic? How many days were you there? Was it always Chung King? Was it elsewhere?

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yeah, nah, we did a few sessions at Chung King. We did a few sessions at Unique. I mean, we were all over the place. Power Play. All kind of things. Yeah. We were just — because at that time I was also kind of on the production tip, just kind of out there in all of these studios. Just everywhere. So, it was just anywhere.

But Chung King is where we got started. It's where we got started. That was Nas' first session. That was his first session. Like, we had been in on Eric B. and Rakim's sessions in Power Play and everything. And it was like, "Alright. Cool." And we were trying to kind of do it like — he would try to come prepared. He would have his little weed or something like that. And like, "Yo, alright." But he couldn't really spread out how he wanted to.

But at the first session at Chung King, he had the oowops; he had all the weed spread out, his notebooks. Like, he had everything prepared nicely and just like — and he was sitting back, and he was like, "Alright. Put it on the big ones right now." And like we put it on the big ones. He's like, "Now let me here the small ones. Alright." He had it all — he learned on 48 tracks. That's what he was recording his demo on, so he knew studio etiquette. He knew studio etiquette. He's like, "Alright, well, how about —" and all of that. So that was good to see him on that. He's like, "Ah, where's the menu so I can order something now."

So he was soaking that up. He was definitely soaking that up. And I was just happy to see that because I had seen — to see something from day one, to see him from day one, and for him to finally get his shot and it was fitting for him, man. He played the role great. He was right there. He knew what to ask for; he knew what to do. He was like, "Ah, I'd like to hear that on the big ones." And like, yo, that kind of thing. "What about the Auratone? Can I hear the vocals on the Auratone?" And he knew the name of the speakers and everything. So that was cool. That was cool. That was cool.

KELLEY: Can you describe the feeling in New York right after "Live At The Barbeque" hit and people were looking for him?

LARGE PROFESSOR: I really can't, because as soon as that album hit I was on planes and busses and trains. They were just like, "We need those guys over here fast." So New York, I was just like, wow — anytime I was — we were doing a lot of traveling. A lot of traveling. But anytime I was, and we would be in Midtown or whatever, it would just be like the love was overflowing. And then alongside with all the rest of the production that was going on, it was just like crazy. It was a great energy for hip-hop.

Because we were that — we were primed. We were already — like Latin Quarters and everything, that was the first kind of layer of, yo, the colorful — the kind of the first little, "Alright. We getting a little bit of money now" kind of thing. Where it's like, "Yo. We getting little bit of money." MC Lyte and everyone. And Latin Quarters. And now it was just full-fledged when we were there. It was just like, "Alright. We getting money, and we're not going overboard. We're not trying — we just, like, are tech heads. These drum machines. We need the drum machines."

The energy was crazy. It was crazy. People coming to around the way. They looking, "Yo, this is where he lives?" You just see people sitting, random people just sitting around where you live. It's just like, "Yo. Ah, yo!" That kind of thing.

KELLEY: Oh my god.


KELLEY: I spoke to Faith Newman also, and she described it as hearing that song and being like, "That's the antidote that we need." Because she was feeling like it was getting a little bit too flashy already, and that New York was very serious and dangerous and just cold outside and that she needed that type of orator on the radio. Did you feel like that about what else was on the air, what else was in the clubs?

LARGE PROFESSOR: Nah. See I go by momentum. And the momentum of the music was what made it all good. I go by momentum and key. Like if the key of the record — a lot of Tribe songs, the key of the record, the melody, it brings you up. It's not like — it's like, nice tune where it's like, "Yo, that's right right there." And at that time, it was a lot like "Bonita Applebum" and stuff like that was out there. And it was just stuff that you could just drift away; your spirit could just drift away listening to that.

And then — but sometimes we had — you have "Halftime" and then you would have "It Ain't Hard To Tell." Where it's just like, "It Ain't Hard To Tell" was kind of like what I call the hood bottle-popping kind of thing. Cause we gritty-ed it up. And he's speaking all of these nice uplifting words. "Nas is like the Afro-centric Asian, half man, half amazing." You know, but it's gritty. It's still hood. But it's uplifting the human nature, just really nice and so, yeah.

KELLEY: Can you talk about, again, the components of the songs that are on there?

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yeah, I mean, it's samples. It's records.

KELLEY: I mean, I know that you've told these stories a million times, but I think that what — shockingly, there are people out there who have never heard Illmatic.


KELLEY: And who don't understand why the songs work the way that they do, and so that's what I'm trying to get at, I guess. I've told Ali this before, but my mom didn't understand hip-hop. She couldn't pick out the words. She couldn't understand. And part of it is cause her hearing is not great, but I would give her lyric sheets. And the two albums I gave her were Low End Theoryand Illmatic. And she got it.


KELLEY: She was just like — once she could understand — it really was like she couldn't comprehend what was happening. She was like, "Oh my god. These guys are geniuses."


KELLEY: And I think "Halftime" was the song on which she figured it out for real.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yes. "Halftime."

KELLEY: Which is funny to me because it's also full of specific slang. And I was like, "How did you know what that was?" And she was like, "Oh, yeah. I didn't." I told Ali this story. "I didn't know what a shorty was or a Philly. I thought I could have a little friend go to the store and get me a cheesesteak. And that would be cool."


KELLEY: Like, "I want that."

LARGE PROFESSOR: Right, right, right.

KELLEY: But I do think there is something about the music that opens those stories up and makes his words, his lyrics — I want to use the word elucidate but it's not right. You can hear what he's saying very clearly despite the fact that there are all these --

LARGE PROFESSOR: We're from that school.

KELLEY: — other things happening around. So how do you do that? Do you do that intentionally?

LARGE PROFESSOR: We're from that school. We're from that school. The enunciation and things like that. Yeah, we're from that school. G Rap. Rakim. He's from that school. So it's the same thing with — that's where we're from. That's where we we from. And just he mulled over that stuff too. Like, he really coming up — he had some big shoes to fill. You know, you recording in Rakim's time. You can't just be some fluff dude. That was a lot of pressure.

And for the stuff that came out, opposed to what we were recording out as demos, there was a time where we were recording the demos, and then there was a little bit of a hiatus where it was like, "Alright. What's going on?" And then we got back to recording. And in the time that he wasn't recording, a lot of real life things happened. So when he came back to record, it was like, this dude was so concentrated. It was just like, wow. Wow.

And all the stuff that he got on the first go round, all the studio etiquette. All the just the, "Yo. Stand this way," and, "Alright. Try that sitting down," or, "Try that standing up." He had all these little things he would do, and just all the studio tricks. We really got into that. He's from that school. Definitely. So just to convey clearly, "Yo. This. That." Yeah, definitely.

KELLEY: Do you put him in the mix in a certain way so that he's not swallowed up?

LARGE PROFESSOR: Well, his voice has a nice — it has a nice kind of mid-bass kind of thing to it. And it's like the top has a little bit of a whisper on it. He has that blunt, raspy kind of thing to it. So his voice is great, and if you get him on a nice mic, like a 47 or something like that, he's good. Cause he's like an instrument within itself. It's just like, he's good. Nah, he can — he sits perfectly — his voice sits perfectly on the beat and just has its own presence no matter what.

KELLEY: Did you ever think about what type of drum sound you were giving him?

LARGE PROFESSOR: Ah, nah. We were just getting busy. We were just getting busy. There was no — we was just, "Yo. This right here." And he was like, "Oh, yeah. I'm gon' lace that." And I would just play it for him and he would be like, "Oh, yeah. Yeah. Definitely."

KELLEY: And you knew while you were working on it that it was going to be a classic.

LARGE PROFESSOR: I knew he was a classic. I knew he was a classic. Illmaticto me is like an audiobook. It's like an audiobook to me. It's — I described it once as like a news — a lot of the questions that America has are answered in that album. If America is like, "Well, why and what," a lot of those questions are answered in there. If they have any questions about, you know, "Well, with hip-hop or with this way of life, why," a lot of those answers in there. He speaks on school, on the police, on all of these kind of things, and he kind of explains why. It's like, "Yo, police always hawking" kind of thing like that. That's why I think the album is heralded like it is, because the spirit of that kind of seeps through no matter what.

It's a lot of information on that album. He's not just on there "cat hat rat" kind of — it's like, "And he was in the hallway. He came" — that kind of stuff. It's like, "Really? And what happened next?" That kind of thing. So definitely.

KELLEY: Yeah, he explains things that happen today.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Today, you're saying?


LARGE PROFESSOR: Oh, well, always. He's traveling with his music. Definitely. So I mean, just where --

KELLEY: Oh, no. I mean, the questions that he answers on Illmatic explains questions that people have about what's happening today.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Of today? Well, the root of what is going today — if they were to say, "Well, why is this like this?" Or, "Why is this culture" — a lot of answers, there are a lot of answers there. And it's not irate. It's not like, "Yo!" It's like, "Nah, simply because this. I went to school and the teacher didn't want to teach me about my history" and things like that. So it's like a lot of those answers like — alright, well, if someone were to ask, "Well why only in the projects this happens," a lot of those questions are answered right there.

KELLEY: Yeah, for me when I — so I heard that album when I was like 12, something like that.


KELLEY: And it actually — it made me ask questions because of the line — oh my god. I can't even remember how it begins. But just because of Jerome's niece.

LARGE PROFESSOR: "Jerome's niece got shot in the dome piece." That's like, "What?"

KELLEY: "At Jones Beach." And I was like, "I know where Jones Beach is."

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yeah. And that's what I'm saying. Just the references, like the stuff — you knew he had knowledge of this world. Because the regular normal hood dude — right. Jones Beach. And to put that together was just like, "Wow. This guy is a poet." More than anything, Nas is a true poet. A true true poet. Just in the rap form. Just in the hip-hop rap form.

KELLEY: Yeah. Thanks for taking time to do that, like on your time and everything. I have just a couple questions. Do you have anymore? We'll edit — go back to this, but can you explain who Paul C was when you met him and what his legacy was and why he's not here anymore?

LARGE PROFESSOR: Right. Paul C, my mentor, the guy who took me to another level in making music. Before Paul C, I was making pause tapes. I was DJing, making tapes, and, at the time that I met Paul C, a lot of things were being done on the drum machine. A lot of sampling — that's when sampling was really coming into the forefront. And he was a wizard on the SP-1200, which was the machine at that time. And to go in the studio, people would just go in with their jaws dropping, like "Wow. This dude." Because he was just so swift with it and knew what he wanted to do. And the beats would be so funky.

But the thing that was so crazy about it was — hip-hop, you got black and Latino — everybody thinks hip-hop is black and Latino, and then now here's this white guy here sitting and it's like, "Wow. You made that?" And he's like, "Yeah." And if you turned around and you heard Paul, you wouldn't even — you would've thought you was talking to homeboy from over there at the — that kind of thing. So that's what was kind of crazy about it.

Paul was — I'm still trying to think of the word. But it's like rare. Like Haley's Comet is kind of rare. Paul was like that. He was — I don't know. But that dude, man, he showed so many people love and especially me. He was really unique. He was really unique. And I think that's what — someone just couldn't handle that. Someone just couldn't handle that with Paul. It was like, this dude — cause he was getting love.

He didn't care about — he wasn't trying to flash or anything. That dude would be exhausted. We would have a session. He would come an hour late, hair all ruffled and crazy and looking — t-shirt, goose bomber. Like, "Fellas, sorry about that. I had a crazy session last night. But c'mon. Let's get to it. Let's get to it." And just start going, and just went to sleep three hours earlier than that. And he's working and working and flipping it. I'm bringing him the records.

We bringing him the records, at that time, when we first started. And he's like, "Ah, nah, you can do this. Do it like this." And we're like, "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! That's it! That's the ticket!" And he's just flipping and just making this magic for all of these people.

But I guess with me, because I would come in with my records, I was like, "This part and that part and that part and that," and he would do what I'm asking him to do. And he'd be like, "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! I like this. This works right here. This works." And he would even like, "Alright, I would throw this in there," and then he threw something in here. And I'm like, "Yeah." He's like, "Yo, man, you gotta come back to the studio." So he saw something in me, and he was like, "Yo, man, you gotta" — like, he would call me late night and be like, "Yo, got some free time." I would go see him.

And that's how I met Organized Konfusion when they were STP. He was working on an album for them, and it was fire. It was crazy the album he was working on with them. He was like, "Yo, man, this is" — and just hooking everybody up, and just being hood with it. He was natural with it. It wasn't like it was awkward or anything. He puffed his joints and everything. It was — he was real natural with it. Real natural.

And just someone in this world, they couldn't cope with that for some reason. They didn't — Paul didn't — I don't know, man. It's just like, sometimes, it's just — people — like John Lennon's story. It's like, yo, why, man? Why couldn't he just live how he wanted to? You just — it gets like that sometimes when people just out there and they humble and they shining and they just have this gift. It's just crazy sometimes, and I think that's what happened with Paul.

And it's crazy. Because the night that everything happened and he ascended, I was trying to call him. I went — this was at the time of the New Music Seminar. And I went to the New Music Seminar the next day and talking to my boy, I'm like, "Yo." He's like, "Yo, what's up with Paul, man?" I'm like, "I was trying to call him yesterday." He was like, "Yo, you know what, man? I heard through the grape that Paul ..." I'm like, "Ah, man. Nah, man. I'm gon' call Paul when I get back home, man." I was calling. No answer. And then I called the studio, and the studio manager, Mick, answered the phone. I'm like, "Yo, can I speak to Paul." And Mick just like wailed, "Nooo! No, you can't! Paul is dead." I'm like, "Ah, man." It just sent chills into my brain, and ever since then, I was like, "Nah. I gotta keep repping my dude, Paul." So I named my production company — it's on Nas' record. So we always rep for Paul.

KELLEY: Paul Sea. S-e-a.

LARGE PROFESSOR: S-e-a. Yes. Paul Sea. And that comes from us. We had a mutual love for The Meters albums, and it's funny because of the producers of The Meters were Allen Toussaint and Marshall Sehorn, a black dude and a white guy. And they would always mix their names up like Sea-Saint and Touss-Sea for their production companies. So I was like, in honor of all of that, Paul Sea, with the s-e-a kind of thing. Definitely.

KELLEY: Thanks for telling us about that.



KELLEY: Really appreciate — I think he's important for people to know about.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Definitely. Definitely. Definitely.

KELLEY: And I really appreciate you talking about your sister and how "Looking At The Front Door" is a relationship record.


KELLEY: And the mom of Main Source making that happen. Like, it's bit of my mission to show rather than tell how complicated and inclusive hip-hop is.


KELLEY: I feel that. I would — we will edit all this and everything, but I want to find a way to end on a --

MUHAMMAD: On a high note.


MUHAMMAD: Well, I don't know. There's lots to chop up and move around. I have a question from producer's corner.


MUHAMMAD: What did the feature of filter do for you?

LARGE PROFESSOR: Wow. Well, filtering, I would — going uptown to Mount Vernon and hooking up with Pete Rock, Pete Rock was — he was kind of the one that — Pete Rock was an early genius. A lot of the techniques even to this day, those are Pete Rock things. Like, on the MPC now, how you can chop up into like eighths and things like that, Pete is the one that kind of came up with that, and slowing it down and all this kind of stuff.

So we were sharing tricks. I would come in; I would be doing SP-1200 — it was the decay, and it was the volume, whatever the volume thing was. It was where you could do the echoes, like — I would do that on all of my beats, and we just trade these little things we would do with the beats. But Pete Rock kind of with the filter — and it was like, "Wow. That's kind of crazy."

And so I took that. I was like, "Yo, we filtering now." And just — that was crazy, because now you could just get the bass out of a record. I mean, but that's Jamaican. That's the roots. You going to the dub. They just take all the highs out or take all the bottom out. So definitely, yeah, filtering was crazy. And that bass added that rush. You know what I mean? It's like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!" And you know, on the train and everything just — yeah, that's it.

MUHAMMAD: Did you feel like — so was it Pete that introduced the fact that you could do it like in this sort of universe or --

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yeah, definitely.

MUHAMMAD: So did you instantly think of all the records that you never touched because of --

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yes. Yes. And then you just hear records and it's like, "Ah that bass line right there." And just now you hearing — yeah, definitely. Pete Rock. And then I showed Premier on the 950, I was like, "Yo," you know, the filter and all of that. And at that time, like I said, we come from that each-one-teach-one and just that kind of thing. So it was like, "I have this record." We were kind of sharing, just sharing, all of those things.

But Pete was the one. He was like, "Wow. Yo, what bass line is that?" We always be quizzing each other. "You know what bass line that is?" Like, "Nah." He was like, "Oh!" "Ah! That's crazy!" That kind of thing.

MUHAMMAD: Has there been any other sort of technological sort of innovation that's made you excited like filtering?

LARGE PROFESSOR: With filtering.

MUHAMMAD: I don't know. Maybe in the past 15 years?

LARGE PROFESSOR: A lot of — yeah. I mean, well, we'll take it out of beat making, but I'm really happy about Serato. A lot of people, "Yo. Nah." I'm happy about that cause I actually carried crates. I carried crates on the train. So I'm serious, like for real. So I'm like, Serato, just to have a laptop full of songs is a blessing for me.

MUHAMMAD: Ah, that's hilarious. It's like, not the taxi, on the train with the crate. Understand.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Word. On the train.

KELLEY: And people that don't live in New York need to know that's stairs up and down and up --

LARGE PROFESSOR: Stairs, up down. I mean, to add onto that, just to make you laugh a little bit more, let's say it was maybe five o'clock in the morning going — this is a Biz session I'm talking about. Biz always worked like six in the morning. This is when he started his sessions. And he was always like, "Yo, bring some records."

So I'm always — so Serato, a lot of just this one touch technology, I love it. The drum machines now, you can press one button and chop the whole everything, like the MPC, the Renaissance now and stuff like that. I'm really excited about all of that stuff. I just can't wait until they make everything wireless now, where now we can — wireless where now the DAW — we can use the DAW with no wires now. Like, "Alright. Cool." Now you got your digi and it's not even hooked up to anything. It's just wireless. That's what I'm — I want to live to see that day where it's no wires anymore. No wires. That would be nice.

MUHAMMAD: That would be nice.

KELLEY: I thought you meant so like you didn't even have to carry your laptop. Like hands free.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Ah, nah, nah. C'mon. We gotta do something now. You know what I mean? There are people that DJ like that. They just press play, and that's that. But I still like to kind of touch the record. I just did an all 45 session down at Mobile Mondays just Monday so you know.

MUHAMMAD: Yo, he kicked my butt in Toronto --


KELLEY: For real.

MUHAMMAD: I was like — yo, I don't even remember what year that was. That might been like '07 or '08 or '06 or something.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Nah, nah, nah. It was for the people. We weren't even going — we were side-by-side, and I played a certain way and he played a certain way, and the people had fun.


LARGE PROFESSOR: And that's all that mattered.

MUHAMMAD: No doubt.

LARGE PROFESSOR: The people had fun. Everybody had fun in the end. And we both — they were coming up to both of us like, "Yo, we love y'all!" And it was like, "Yeah." Now he want to bring it to --nah, man.

MUHAMMAD: Nah. When I say "kick my butt," I don't mean it was an intentional like, "Oh, yo, you came here to stomp me out" sort of thing. It was just like, yo, I thought — first of all I thought we were going to go back and forth just based on what they told me.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Right. That's what I thought too.

MUHAMMAD: And then he was like, "Yo, you might want to get yours in cause I'ma go in."


LARGE PROFESSOR: Right. Right. Yeah. Cause I was — yeah.

MUHAMMAD: I was like, "Oh, OK. Cool." But, oh, I loved your set, man. It was amazing.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yo, I loved yours too, man. I'm like, "Yo, Ali, he got all the girls." I'm like, "Now if you could get the women rocking, now you the man." So I'm like, "Yo!" Then I start playing and all the girls kind of start — and now the dudes are coming — I'm like, "Ah, man. Ladies please!"

KELLEY: What are you guys playing?

MUHAMMAD: His set was amazing.

KELLEY: What was it?

MUHAMMAD: Phenomenal.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Nah, I'm playing all this crazy Mobb Deep, all this dark, crazy — and you know Ali. He rocking — he got it rocking. He playing a mix of everything, and I'm just coming through like -- and then like --

MUHAMMAD: Yeah. It was raw. I was like, "Yooo." This is — I wish I had a tape of that set. It was so amazing.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Some funny stuff. But that was a nice night, though. And it's just good just in hip-hop that we are even in the same region DJing together, and just who would've ever thought. Like I said, I bring it back to MC Shan, we living in a world of hip-hop.

MUHAMMAD: One more question on production tip, I notice that you're now doing full-out instrumentals on your records.


MUHAMMAD: What's the inspiration? Cause I know there was always little snippets of a little piece and I didn't know if that --

LARGE PROFESSOR: Right. Right. How we were doing before.

MUHAMMAD: Yeah. I didn't know if that was just because so excited like, "I gotta give them a taste of this little piece," or more so like a sample clearance thing now. But now, it seems like you just doing --

LARGE PROFESSOR: Just the instrumental.

MUHAMMAD: It's full instrumentals. I love that. What brought that on?

LARGE PROFESSOR: That's just to break up the rappity rap for a minute. Cause, you know, "Rap rap rap rap." I'm still one of those — I guess — I don't know what you would call it. I like to rappity rap rap a lot. I like to "yadadadadada" kind of thing. I'm not as cool as these dudes today. Dudes are like, "Yo, bro." You know what I mean? That's how they rap today. I'm just like, "Yo and the yadadada." That's how — I'm still on it like that. Sometimes that could be a little overload for the listener.

So I'm just kind of trying to think of the listener and not, "Well, this is what I want to say." I'm kind of like, "Let me give you a break for a second to give you an instrumental in between these things."

MUHAMMAD: Well, I always appreciate your rhymes. Cause you a poet too. Period point blank.

LARGE PROFESSOR: I appreciate that.

MUHAMMAD: And I think that just comes from where we come from, the schooling. It's like, I don't know if you really should be touching the microphone if you can't --

LARGE PROFESSOR: Word. Yeah. For sure.

MUHAMMAD: The bar. If you can't raise your element of artistry to this here. So, I know it's different nowadays and I accept where it is, but just to go on a couple of your lyrics that always — you say things that make me laugh.



MUHAMMAD: And for the art of being an MC, to me, and rapping on a record --

LARGE PROFESSOR: You have to have that.

MUHAMMAD: — is cadence.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yeah, cadence.

MUHAMMAD: Cadence is important. And how you put the right phrasing of words and the rhythms and stuff like that, I'm like, yo, you just do it — it just comes off like butter. It's just so smooth the way you say certain things so" --

LARGE PROFESSOR: Appreciate that.

MUHAMMAD: — one thing you said, and I just want to — you said, "Sitting and thinking about the time I wrote four stacks of rhymes for dimes. "


MUHAMMAD: "Makes me want to go back to doing crimes" --

LARGE PROFESSOR: "Doing crimes." Right.

MUHAMMAD: — "on the corner."

LARGE PROFESSOR: "On the corner."


LARGE PROFESSOR: It's industry. Just the industry getting to me like — you have a certain — when you — in those times, you had a certain way you thought about the industry. You like, "Alright, well, I'm skilled. I'm nice at this, so I'll be good in the industry." And then you get in the industry and you like, "Alright, everybody, I'm here, and I got bridges in my songs and everything's in key. It's together and everything."

And then something happens where it's like your album was bootlegged or — and you put all of this work into this stuff. And then you going to the record company like, "Well, how did it get bootlegged? And what's up? Everyone's coming up to me like, 'Yo, this is crazy. These songs are great.'" You going in like, "This should be gold. What's going" --

So, I got the shock of my life getting into the industry, cause I thought it was all about skills. Like, if you got the skills, you gon' get out there. And then once I found out that that business part was bigger than the show, I just started writing about it and just like — so it was, "Sitting and thinking about the time I wrote four stacks of rhymes for dimes made me want to go back to doing crimes on the corner."

Cause the industry was just like — and you can't wild out in the industry. You can't go in the office like — there are stories of people going in like, "Rah! Rah!" Banging on the table, and it's like, "Nah, I'm not going to do that." I'll just write about it.

MUHAMMAD: Or opening a bag of rattlesnakes or snakes on a — shout to Treach. We all know the story. Another song, "Hungry," you said, "Busting out the woodworks on all rap jerks."

LARGE PROFESSOR: "On all rap jerks." Yeah.

MUHAMMAD: That's how you open the song. So colorful. It's a simple phrase but it's --

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yeah. "Out the woodworks on all rap jerks. It's me, Large Pro," like yo. I mean, this how we speak, how we speak. It's — what bugs me out is I think I may be the first person to say kosher on a record, like in "Front Door." Like, "We fight every night. Now that's not kosher."

And that's just how we — you got your sly guys, your sly guy that you — I know in Flushing, in Flushing, Queens, where I came from, we're right down the block from this fair, the Globe. I don't know. Something about that town, it's just Olympic, Olympiad kind of a — we wanted to jump the highest; we wanted to talk the slickest; we wanted to — just this wit. Just this funny talk. It was just all over in Flushing, so I guess I'm kind of a product of that.

MUHAMMAD: Environment.


MUHAMMAD: It's just — yo, it's so entertaining to me. It's like, it's filling because --

LARGE PROFESSOR: No, but Brooklyn — Brooklyn is the — that's the slickest. Like, Big.


LARGE PROFESSOR: Oh my goodness. He — so, it wasn't only — but definitely, like yeah. I think it was just that --

MUHAMMAD: Where we come from. That New York thing.


MUHAMMAD: Definitely a New York thing. But it's like, you drop knowledge in your stuff, and you drop some — like you drop the more like maybe the big brother — you got the big brother, the little brother. And I'm like, "Yo, you know it's trouble where we are, but I'm telling you duh duh duh duh dun." So it comes from that big brother, but then also it's kind of like fatherly sort of --

LARGE PROFESSOR: Right. Fatherly.

MUHAMMAD: Fatherly like --

LARGE PROFESSOR: Then grandfatherly.

MUHAMMAD: The grandfatherly.

LARGE PROFESSOR: And then son and just all of that.

MUHAMMAD: But it's kind of from the street. It's a street wit. There's that straight Wall Street wit. But then there's that, "I'ma bust your ass if you don't — you really need to understand what this is" sort of a situation. So, "Classic Emergency," you said, "Microphone strangling. When I kicks butt I like to get my whole ankle in."


KELLEY: I forgot about that one.

LARGE PROFESSOR: That's funny. I mean, it's just extremities of nonsense, talking slick, you know. "What rhymes with dangling?" And then you start getting into the words and it's like, "Alright, well, I'm going to kind of distort this a little bit and say 'ankle in.'" Just dumb. Dumb.

MUHAMMAD: It's dope, though.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Hey, thank you, brother man.

MUHAMMAD: It's dope, because who would've thought of that? To bend it that way. And it's such an illustration.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Thank you. That's funny. That's good that someone appreciates that kind of stuff too, cause that's big. That's big coming from where we come from. That's — that was one of the — like G Rap. I come from that school, just like Nas. G Rap would say something crazy like that. Like, "As many fellas I rock, yo, they would call me Rockefeller." We come from that school.

So it's like, "Yo. OK, you can rhyme, but make sure you saying something witty or slick. Or you saying some real, something outrageous." Like, wow. And that's with Nas — just we from that school. We from that school.

MUHAMMAD: Last one and I'ma let it go. It's from "Still On The Hustle," you say, "Another angle, brim on the Kangol." It's just the way you bent angles to Kangol.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yeah, yeah, yeah. "Another angle, brim on the Kangol."

MUHAMMAD: It's just very descriptive. Cause that says to me New York. And the picture — I mean, it's a picture. It's a clear picture. I don't know if it's because I'm a New Yorker, and I just — I understand what that is. But Kangols were — that was the hat. That was the hip-hop hat.

LARGE PROFESSOR: That's the hip-hop hat.

KELLEY: We know. There was that Fubu Gap ad. It got out. Remember that? LL's --


KELLEY: Am I'm remembering this right? LL's Gap ad --

LARGE PROFESSOR: He was definitely Fubu and Gap.

KELLEY: And he wore the Fubu and the Kangol, didn't he?

MUHAMMAD: Yeah, he did. He did. He did.

KELLEY: It went everywhere.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yeah. That stuff is — just when you writing for so many years, it's like a nice little treat. It's just a treat. Just bugging out. Just bugging out. I mean, that — I swear if this stuff — if I didn't — I'm glad that you can just put words together and you can put these — cause that's — I kind of live through that kind of stuff. I really live through this music. If I couldn't do that, I don't even know where or what cause that stuff keeps me alive, just thinking --

And it's funny because the other day I did a feature for my dude Esoteric up in Boston. Up in Boston. So I did a feature for him, and he hit me back; he's like, "Yo, man, this is why I love you, man. You rhyme lyrics with earaches." I was like, "I appreciate that, man. I appreciate that. It's fun. It's like crossword puzzles. Even making beats. It's like crossword puzzles. It's like, "Alright. This piece. That piece. That piece."

And growing up, my grandmother she would sit there all day and just do crossword puzzles. And it was like a mental family. All these sayings in my house. "God bless the child." It was always a saying for something. "If the sun shines this" — it was always a saying. It was always a saying. It was always a saying for everything. So it's like, I was just kind of, I guess, primed and prepped for all of this that I'm doing now.

MUHAMMAD: That's amazing. So, Mom and Dad rocking all sorts of soulful music. Sister blessing you with the hip-hop.

LARGE PROFESSOR: With the disco. With the hip-hop.

MUHAMMAD: With the disco. All of that. Everything that you've done. As a I say, you're hip-hop royalty.

LARGE PROFESSOR: I appreciate that, brother.

MUHAMMAD: What is the next generation of you, meaning your offspring. What kind of household is that for --

LARGE PROFESSOR: Yeah. It's wild. Because my daughter, my daughter Gillian, oh, wow, she is — she can say my lyrics. That's kind of why I kind of — she can say my lyrics. She has my lyrics down.

And it's funny. One time I was DJing at Brooklyn Bowl, and — I don't know. It's just always been this habit I had, just if I have the mic like, "Here. Take the mic." And just real quick like — I'll even surprise them. "Yo. Take the mic. Say something." And I gave her the mic, and she wasn't even supposed to be in Brooklyn Ball. I think she was like 10 years old. She was like, "Yo, if y'all like my daddy, Large Professor, make some noise!"


LARGE PROFESSOR: She's a natural. And I'm just — it's kind of scary sometimes, cause she — one time I took a picture of her — I took the picture and she just got into this pose. And I didn't even tell her. I didn't — so I'm like, wow, this is going to be something.

So that, along with a whole host of other people that I've been mentoring and just all of that, hip-hop is definitely going to be — I just did a workshop in the Bronx also with some children that were, I guess, in between homes, like kind of on some shelter kind of thing. And just the guys, the little kids, were break dancing and everything. And just the rhymes and the interest they had was just — and it gave me a good feeling cause it was like, "Yes. Hip-hop is — traditional hip-hop, grassroots hip-hop, is alive and well and will always forever be strong." Definitely.

MUHAMMAD: That's your high note, Frannie.

KELLEY: Yeah. Well, I just want to say thank you. Because listening to those Easter eggs, that's what I live for. That feeling when you hear it the first time and you embarrass yourself on the train.


KELLEY: That's my good day.

LARGE PROFESSOR: That's real. That's real.

KELLEY: So thank you.


MUHAMMAD: Word. Thank you.

LARGE PROFESSOR: Thank you. Peace.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ali Shaheed Muhammad is a world-renowned producer, songwriter and musician, and a founding member of A Tribe Called Quest, Lucy Pearl and production group The Ummah. He cowrote D'Angelo's " Brown Sugar" and has worked with John Legend, Maxwell, Mint Condition, Angie Stone, Mos Def and Gil Scott-Heron among many others.
Frannie Kelley is co-host of the Microphone Check podcast with Ali Shaheed Muhammad.