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

Nas “It Ain’t Hard To Tell” (1994)

Album: Illmatic

Label: Columbia

Producer: Large Professor

Large Professor: “That’s another song like ‘Barbeque’ that we had before, and then when it was album time, we had to redo it and get it right. [Using the Michael Jackson ‘Human Nature’ sample was smooth] because [they were both under] Columbia. It was kind of in-house. That was nice, because people knew it as a familiar tune, but we gritty’d it up and made it hood. I always called it a ‘hood bottle poppin’ song.’ Like, not too shiny. We’re poppin’ bottles, but in the hood—not in the club.

 

I always called it a ‘hood bottle poppin’ song.’ Like, not too shiny. We’re poppin’ bottles, but in the hood—not in the club.

 

“Just the spirit of that. A lot of joints that I do, I have different ways of describing them. But that, it’s not the most hardest, hardcore beat. It’s a more spiritually uplifting kind of [vibe]. Then when he threw the next layer on there [with the lyrics], it was like, ‘Aiight, we there.’

“I was kind of sort of like [an executive producer for Illmatic]. Because Nas would be like, ‘Yo, you think I could get a beat from Q-Tip?’ And I would be like, ‘Yeah, yeah, hell yeah.’ Because that’s when I was hangin’ tough with Q-Tip. And [I was connected to Pete Rock and Premier] so it just made it a little easier. I think he sought Premier out on his own, but I just made it easier to get connected to him. I made it easier to get in contact with those dudes, like, ‘Yo, Nas is trying to get in contact with you.’ And they already had respect for him, so they’d say, ‘Yo, give him all my numbers.’

“Faith Newman, [who was the A&R for the album], was the one who spearheaded [using ‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell’ as the lead single]. Like, ‘This is what we’re rollin’ with.’”

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