April 4th, 2016 will bring a very special edition of NYC’s all-45 throwdown, Mobile Mondays! Celebrating their birthdays, and in the mix with nothing but 45s, will be legendary Hip Hop artists Large Professor and Diamond D.
Large Pro is revered as one of the greatest Hip Hop producer-slash-emcees to appear on wax. Getting his start providing beats for Eric B. & Rakim, he went on to found Main Source, which released the classic Breaking Atoms with Large Pro at the helm. From there, his production and remix work would flourish, and he would spend the early to mid 90s providing beats for Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, Common, and many more. One of LP’s most notable contributions would be introducing the world to a young, hungry Nasty Nas on Main Source’s “Live At The Barbeque”, as well as providing two tracks for Illmatic. Large Pro has continued to produce, emcee, and DJ, and has continued to release timeless Hip Hop music. Look out for his latest release, 2015’s Re:Living.
In anticipation of this Mobile Mondays! birthday celebration, we caught up with Large Pro and he gave us a breakdown of 10 of his favorite 45s!
I was originally put on to this record by the legendary Bronx record collector Sgt. Len Funk. He would play me records and give me assignments to go and see if I could find them. I found my copy at Strider Records on Jones St. in 1989.
There was a list that circulated of the original artists of the Ultimate Breaks & Beats break compilation records. Before that list, everyone thought “Substitution” was made by Herb Rooney. When that list surfaced and I saw who the artist really was, I went to House Of Oldies with Pete Rock and asked the guy if he had any copies. They had a system where he would intercom downstairs to a guy in the basement, and if they had the record there would be two beeps, and if not the guy downstairs would intercom back, “No copies”. When we heard those two beeps we looked at each other and it was on! We immediately asked how many copies he had, and he said four. We asked him to send all four up through a conveyor belt system they had. Pete bought two and I bought two. Early!
A semi rare 45 that started as a Downstairs Records sure shot. You had to be connected to know what that was though, because it wasn’t a record you would find in an average home collection or soul 45 section. High energy from start to finish, with many dips and dives to get into.
Caught a copy while digging thru “Charlie’s Diner” in New Brunswick, NJ. You could call Charlie to find whatever rare record you were trying to get at that time, and there was a 95% chance he’d have it. But the key was to actually take the time to dig through the records he had in the diner. I found “Souled Out” and Allen Toussaint’s “Get Out My Life Woman” amongst the 45’s he had just laying around on the floor in the diner.
My “out of the ordinary” record digging started while I was in high school. While everyone was still searching for James Brown records, I wanted to find that “other” stuff that was more rare. I would always ask my friends in school if their parents had records, and some of them would say “Yes” accompanied by, “and they’re just sitting in the closet” or, “and they don’t use them”. I would ask if they could bring them to school, or can I come check ’em out. A girl I loved at the time let me go through the collection at her house, and that’s when I found it. It turned out to be a song we’d both love, along with Freda Payne’s “The Easiest Way To Fall”
The grandfather of the Main Source DJ’s, Mr. Ceasar McKenzie, was a Canadian Soul artist. He had some serious records in his collection. One day while checking his records, I came across that FRM label and began playing it. It was something about that song that I just loved, so I kept playing it over and over. It wasn’t a deep funk or drum break joint, but it just had a heavenly vibe to it that I connected with. I asked him if I could take the record back to NY and he obliged. One of my favorite records till this day.
There was a record store in Jamaica, Queens named Greenline. The store was dope because it was right around the corner from Studio 1212, and whenever we’d take a break or had to pass some time we could just dip to the store. Greenline had insanely rare 45’s that till this day I still haven’t seen other copies of, and “Love Story” is one of them. I think it’s a Jamaican take on a classic. Very lo-fi and funky with ill horns and guitars. I found that and Milly & Silly “Gettin’ Down For Xmas” at Greenline the same day.
Gene Evans – I Still Love You Little Miss
Just a nice feel good song that I found in my parents’ collection. Something about it sticks with me, and every now and then I have to hear it. [Editor’s note: Large Pro almost stumped us with this one; it exists, but it’s yet to be entered into the Discogs Database. Someone (who owns the record, Database Guideline 1.1.1) get on that!]
I love the late 60’s sounding Harlem street vibe this song has to it. It makes me imagine how it was in those days. Guys in highwater pants with their hair slicked back, and women in thieir mini-dresses at the bar snapping their fingers. Also an extremely early instance of a swift 4/4 drum break.
One day my older sister kept playing this record over and over again while I was asleep. It was 4 in the morning and she was just sitting in the living room, in the dark, playing the record over and over again. My room was a converted dining room area that was sectioned off, so I could hear everything. When I woke up that next morning before school, I went to find that record so I could hear what she was listening for, and have loved that record ever since.
Mobile Mondays! is a weekly event founded by Operator Emz honoring the 45 RPM record and has quickly become New York City’s premier 45‘s vinyl night for music lovers. Every week is presented by Operator Emz, Natasha Diggs, Joey Carvello, Just Blaze, Misbehaviour, and $$$Mike, hosted by Miss Rebecca at The Bowery Electric. MM brings NYC’s vinyl rats together to celebrate everything from Disco to Garage, curated from the inside. For the artists and creatives who congregate, Mobile Mondays! is a chance to go back to the New York City they love best; when records were events, the DJ was on the pulpit and the dance floor was epic.