The Xtra P Remixes.

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Along with Lord Finesse, Large Professor help make the SP1200 into the iconic machine it is today. He took it’s limitations and used them it his advantage, chopping short clips of sound and then using filtering and layering to make relaxed rhythms that banged hard when his drum sounds were stacked over the top. There was a time when the man knew how to use every beat machine on the market, and as a musician was constantly pushing for new sounds to take Hip Hop to new heights. People are quick to jump on someone like Dre with the legend tag; and the more humble pioneers keeping it on the low tend to get overlooked by a lot of new fans; so as I don’t feel the LP gets enough recognition for the work he put in, I’m giving him some here.

The Golden Era sound he helped pioneer made MC’s careers and immediately placed him among Hip hop’s higher echelons. Every move he made in the early 90’s brought him closer to beat royalty; he started by working with Eric B & Rakim, then moved onto producing for G Rap, The Tribe, Big Daddy Kane, trading records with Pete Rock, and getting airplay with his group Main Source. Without the Large Pro it’s probable Nasty Nas may not have got on at the crucial time he did, smashed his first guest verse on ‘Live At The Barbeque’ and gone on to bless beats from Hip Hop’s best producers on his timeless début. On top of that he’s has worked with everybody in the game over the last Twenty years, and played a colossal part in Hip Hop’s development during it’s adolescence, whether behind the boards or in front of the mic.

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The songs he selected to remix weren’t easy choices made by a lazy producer looking for a quick project; they were already classics  in most cases. When he took the vocal tracks into the lab he completely reformed the originals into his own songs, with an awareness that biting the previous producer’s style was the cardinal sin. It meant that with his remixes you got the same song taken in a very different direction and shown in a new light with a whole different feel. Grab a neckbrace and a lighter; here’s some of those classics he flipped:

Common – Resurrection Remix. 

In a respectful move he’s utilized a few times, he pays homage to No I.D’s original beat on the intro; then gets loose with his own style as the song swings into life. The drums bounce like they’re on a trampoline and never sit on one pattern for too long, the scratch patterns are pure 90’s, and that trademark laidback groove is accounted for. Even though that version satisfies, it seems One wasn’t enough; so after he dropped this mix, he put out the Extra P mix too, walking even darker passages musically. This time around lightening the drums to compliment the ominous tones the horns bring and achieving equilibrium on that fine line he treads so well.  

Gang Starr – Gotta Get Over ( Taking Loot ) Remix. 

The treble’s kinda harsh on this video, but it’s still a choice throwback that’s caked in 90’s swagger; the beat’s funky and knocks with the same roughness Large Pro always supplies, and the bass accompanies Guru’s monotone intonations well as Baldhead Slick gets mean with the flows for the Trespass Soundtrack. Back in the day when Preem was first learning the S950; Large Pro was the man that showed him the ins and outs, and on this remix he surpasses his former student.

Mobb Deep – Peer Pressure Remix.

The Mobb’s first album Juvenile Hell went under the radar when it first came out; and showed them growing as MC’s and men during their transition towards the now legendary Infamous album. This one’s only a remix in name, as it was actually the original, but got replaced on the tracklist by Premier’s rugged, jazz-based mix. To look at the way producers at the time we’re always jostling for position on albums may seem overtly competitive; but in reality all the big names at the time knew, respected, and were teaching each other, all striving to be at the top of their game musically. The environment of healthy competition improved Hip Hop production as a whole, similar to how the competitive edge amongst The Wu members made the whole Clan elevate.

Slick Rick – It’s A Boy Remix.

This is that sound. The 90’s in one short song; Rick The Ruler regales us with his expert storytelling and Xtra P brings the funk with drum hits that lay firmly in the cut with those reverberating horns. The original beat was pretty wack too, so this version definitely perked up that 12″ when it came out back in ’91, and attached The LP’s name to greatness once more.

Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – Bad To The Bone Remix.

Everything about this is hard, music doesn’t get made with this kinda feel any more; you can hear the music flowing out of them like it’s the most natural thing to be killing mics and samplers this easily.

Beastie Boys – Sure Shot remix.

One of Three remixes that came out on the 12″ release, the track’s steamroller approach meant it hit harder than the Beastie’s self produced original, and although it’s a lot less catchy, the classic samples and bold snare increase it’s vintage value.

Big L – Unexpected Flava.

Even though it’s not an officially recognised remix, his reworking one of Lord Finesse’s tracks off his second LP Return Of The Funky Man gave Harlem’s finest the perfect opportunity to showcase his skill with mic device before his debut was released. When this Hip Hop Holy Trinity came together it could only mean good things for the music.

Organized Konfusion – Stress Remix.

One of the man’s best remixes, heavy with that thick sound he achieves through combining some deep bass that grooves with a lively horn section that shines. A young Pharoahe Monch and Prince Po are going in with vitality, and Large Pro’s verse is an honest reflection of how he was handling life at a time when Main Source was falling apart due to personal differences and his production career was still somewhat uncertain.

Nas – One Love Remix.

One Love is my favourite example of Q Tip’s production, and one of the best Nas songs ever, this version comes close to topping it, but it’s arms are too short to box with god on this one. If you’ve been into Hip Hop for a while or dug about in the 90’s era you know the echoing horns and light organ melodies on the verse take you back to those videos MTV, The Box and Rap City and used to play, and your pineal can see Nas on that roof in the polo against the dusky NY skyline. Another gem.

Nas – It Aint Hard To Tell Remix.

For the 12″ release The LP remixed his own song; and only slightly tweaked the original by upping the tempo, adding a harsh snare and including some of Nas’s ad libs at the end. ‘If it ain’t broke’ comes to mind as when he made the original he put together one of the albums best beats, stepping his game up to stand tall in the mix with Premier, Pete Rock, Q Tip and L.E.S, but still a cool listen for the completists.

Nas – The World Is Yours Remix.

His best remix by far; a hazy, sleepy tune that should be a regular in anyone’s late night smoke session. Someone needs to get in touch with whatever suits sort out the re-releases of Illmatic and get this a feature. It definitely should have been included in the Gold Edition. Remixing Pete Rock is no joke, he’s the last generation of producer’s biggest influence for good reason, and in this case the original beat is so well-known, Large Pro’s move to  take his reinterpretation on a more ambient vibe was well planned after the original’s anthemic approach. It’s a beat that could be used today by any of the up and coming new artists and get props; especially with the 90’s style coming full circle in the last year. The extra words on the chorus from Nas, background group vocal and alternate verses make it an even more exciting listen; the accapella sounding like the young MC was still working out his breathing patterns, playing with different intonations and tightening up his phrasing before he recorded the final version for Illmatic . Check Large Pro’s production on the unreleased collab between Biz Markie, AZ and Nas for another highlight from that period.

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The dopest thing about the production and MC catalogue of the Mad Scientist is that he’s still not done; his work during the 90’s shaped the musical landscape and defined the era’s sound, then in the 2000’s he kept working, putting out Two volumes of instrumentals, Three solo albums, producing for Cormega, Neek The Exotic, Reks, AZ, U-God, Busta Rhymes and dropping few more jewels for Nas. Even now he’ still releasing the heat; just Three months ago he put out  another modern classic with B1. As a proponent for the culture of Hip Hop he’s still in his own lane, free of influence from the ever shifting tide of mainstream bullshit that washes away many a competitor, and keeping his integrity in tact by still being in this for the love of good music from the soul, and the art of production.

Peace.

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