Main Source – “Looking at the Front Door”

Baby don’t you cast him…

When I first started messin’ with old school hip-hop one of the first records to introduce me to this much larger world was Breaking Atoms, the 1991 debut of Main Source. The Main Source were three dudes: Large Professor, a legendary producer and emcee from NYC, and Sir Scratch and K-Cut, two Toronto deejays (T-Dot stand up!) who were…well, in the company of greatness? I dunno. Well, okay, they contributed too!

Anyway, Breaking Atoms is a textbook definition of a lost classic. Released on the Wild Pitch label, the album had seen the light of day for only the briefest of moments until the label tanked, due to a variety of reasons (shady dealings being one looming issue). The album went out of print and remained out of print for most of the ’90s, only reappearing on the market in 2008. It’s a damn shame that this one was out of commission for so long, especially considering the album’s great significance to hip-hop music. For one, the Large Professor’s production work on the record was the calling card of a master. His skill on the SP-1200 sampler was a science (hm, that’s where “Breaking Atoms” came from), and the album features snappy beats and unique production techniques, especially in how the Professor could manipulate samples, play with sounds, and create expert sequences. His lyrics were just as solid, tackling social problems, personal issues, and of course, a moment or two to handle whack-ass emcees.

And, perhaps most notably, Breaking Atoms also featured the debut of a kid out of Queens named Nasir Jones… Nas.

But tonight’s post ain’t about Nasty Nas (whom I’ll probably talk about one day). Instead, tonight’s post is “Looking At The Front Door.”

One of the record’s highlights, “Looking…” is perhaps the most level-headed, rational, and despondent look at a failing relationship that rap has ever produced. A subdued listen, Large Professor takes a long, hard look at the state of his relations with a woman he used to love, coming across as a man who’s weathered a terrible storm and has collected his thoughts. Interestingly, he’s not mad, just hurt and very detached, and even more interestingly, he’s not the aggressor in the relationship either. The Professor really bares his soul here, providing for a late-night burner which makes you think, and genuinely feel bad for him. It’s an outstanding listen.

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