Large Professor Tells All: The Stories Behind His Classic Records (Part 1)

Eric B. & Rakim “In The Ghetto” (1990)

Album: Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em

Label: MCA

Producer: Large Professor (uncredited)

Large Professor: “I was into beats, and DJing. I had two turntables. I had a Casio SK-1 that I was doing loops on. I was doing pause tapes.

“Studio 1212 was ringin’ [at the time]. They had the credits on everything. So the DJs I was with, they found out what it was, and their Mom [who was our manager] was like, ‘We gotta get with this guy [who works at 1212].’ So she put us in the studio with Paul C, and [he engineered one of our early sessions].

 

Rakim told me the first line to that... He was like, ‘Yo, I’ma set it off like this, Baby Pa.’ And he let me hear the first line, and that was it. The next time I heard it, it was finished.

 

“Paul C was the dude who stepped me up studio-wise. He put me on to the SP-1200, tracks, compression, and chopping on the drum machine, and everything like that. He took my ideas to another level, with the ingenuity, and the machines, and all of that. Now, I was doing pause tapes, but in the SP-1200. Paul kind of gave me the lane. There was one time when he let me borrow his SP-1200 for like two weeks, and I just went crazy with the beats during that time. That was my start right there.

“Paul was already engineering for Biz [Markie], [Queen] Latifah, Super Lover Cee & Casanova Rud who was on fire at that time, and Ultramagnetic MCs. So for that time, when the ill sample-based stuff and the ill groups were getting out there, Paul had that batch.

“‘Ghetto’ was dope because I remember when Paul called me when he found the record at a flea market in the back blocks of Rockaway. He played it for me over the phone and was like, ‘Yo, this is tough.’ Then, his untimely murder happened, which obviously caught us all by surprise.

“So anyway, Rakim showed up to the studio one day, and they had enlisted me to do the beats that day. And Paul used to make people these tapes of the original records [that could be used for samples]. So Rakim showed up with a cassette, and was like, ‘Yo, [let’s use] this right here.’ And I was like, ‘Oh shit, this is that ‘Ghetto’ shit that Paul let me hear one time.’

“So I looped it up off the tape right there. And Rakim was like, ‘Yo, I want the pauses in it. All the drops.’ So I sat there and messed with that loop. Back in the days, they had this shit called the Publison. So I threw it in the Publison, and did all of this chopping and all of that, and put it together.

“Rakim told me the first line to that, he only had the first line. He was like, ‘Yo, I’ma set it off like this, Baby Pa.’ And he let me hear the first line, and that was it. The next time I heard it, it was finished. I don’t know where he recorded vocals, but they went to Cali to finish it and mix it.

“Eric B. and Rakim were professional, but I was coming on the hip-hop B-Boy tip, where everyone would come to one dude’s house and DJ. I wasn’t on the professional side, like, ‘Show me the contracts.’ I was just in there doing beats. I had no contractual obligations with Eric B., because that’s who had me in there. On the strength of Paul C, I was in the studio. It wasn’t like, ‘You’re going to get credited for this and that.’

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