Main Source – Breaking Atoms (July 23, 1991)


When the discussion of greatest hip-hip producers of all time comes up names like Dr. Dre, Premo, Pete Rock, and Kanye West are commonly mentioned. Rarely do you hear Large Professor mentioned in the conversation, but it’s definitely a name that could legitimately be in the argument.

Large Professor, also known as Extra P first came on the scene in the late eighties laying down heat for the likes of Rakim, Kool G. Rap, and Tragedy (the Intelligent Hoodlum) to name a few. In 1989 he would link up with two Toronto deejays, Sir Scratch and K-Cut, forming the group Main Source. Main Source would eventually ink a deal with Wild Pitch and released their debut album Breaking Atoms in 1991.  Breaking Atoms received tons of critical acclaim and would later play a large (no pun intended) part in sparking the career of arguably QB’s greatest lyricist Nas, and Extra P would later be responsible for producing a third of Nas’ classic debut album Illmatic. Large Professor would leave Main Source after Breaking Atoms and go on to produce for a ton of other artist as well as pursue his own solo rap career.

Upon it’s release The Source gave Breaking Atoms a 4.5 mic rating, but in 2002 they revised the review and gave it 5 mics.

So, which review got it right?

Snake Eyes – In the game of craps, snake eyes is a term used when the roller rolls a one on both dice, which is the worst roll you can have. Over an up-tempo bass heavy instrumental Extra P uses the term as an analogy to explain certain individuals current lot in life. Nice start to the evening.

Just Hangin Out – Over his own smooth instrumental Extra P describes he and his crew’s daily deeds and he also manages to break off a few emcees in the process. The instrumental has a bit of a cinematic feel which makes the song sound even more intriguing.

Looking At The Front Door – This is the first single released from Breaking Atoms and easily my favorite Main Source song of all time, and in my opinion one of the top 10 hip-hop songs of all time (yeah, I said it). Over a dark futuristic spacey instrumental Extra P discusses he and his lady’s relationship and why he’s considering leaving her. From beginning to end this song is executed with perfection. Hip-hop classic.

Large Professor – Over yet another slick instrumental (wait…did he sample a wind chime for the break portion of the instrumental?) Extra P talks his shit with the intent of leaving his name imprinted on your brain, thus the song title.

Just A Friendly Game of Baseball – Even though this song was recorded over 20 years ago its message couldn’t be more relevant considering the recent Mike Brown and Eric Garner tragedies. Some of Extra P’s lines will move you to laugh and cry at the same time. Well done, Professor.

Scratch & Kut – The other two deejays that make up Main Source, K-Cut and Sir Scratch work the ones and twos over a sick Extra P production.

Peace Is Not the Word To Play – Extra P examines the misuse of the word “peace”. Another monster Extra P instrumental. I love the horn sample over the hook and the frantic pace of the drums.

Vamos A Rapiar – Over a triumphant piano sample Large Pro talks his shit, once again proven that he is the best producer on the mic. This is fire.

He Got So Much Cool (He Don’t Need No Music) – Decent.

Live At The Barbeque – This song is legendary as it is the first song that the lyrical god Nas first breathed life on as he spit a verse that left everybody wondering who he was and thirsting for more. Extra P and Nas are joined by two other Queens rookies Joe Fatal and Akineyle, who were never quite able to establish themselves in the heartless rap game. I believe Ak was able to make a little noise with his porn movies after his rap career was over.

Watch Roger Do His Thang – Decent.

Just A Friendly Game of Baseball (Remix) – Same as the original with a more aggressive instrumental than the original, which actually works better with the song’s content.

The 2006 pressing that I bought on CD had the following bonus tracks:

Fakin’ The Funk – This was originally released on the White Men Can’t Jump EP.  Extra P and Neek the Exotic (which has to be in the running for corniest rap moniker of all time) share microphone duties on this one. Extra P’s instrumental is sick on an Ebola type level. Easily one of my top 3 Main Source songs of all time.

Bonafied Funk – This was included on the Brand New Heavies’ Heavy Rhyme Experience 1, which was a compilation album with the band playing behind prominent emcees of the early nineties (an album that I’ll get to at some point in the near future). This song was decent at best.

Atom – The instrumental on this one is bananas! I love the horn sample that kicks in during the hook. This one definitely should have made the proper album, which would makes even more sense considering the album title.

Think -This sounds like an incomplete basement demo. It has potential but this version should have been left on the scrap heap.

Looking At The Front Door (Uncut) – Same as the original with a few minor tweaks to the lyrics on the final verse.

Time – Decent.

Large Professor is easily the best producer to ever pick up a mic, which is even scarier when coupled with the fact he is one of the sickest hip-hop producers of all time. Considering these facts it should be a surprise to no one that Breaking Atoms lives up to it’s name and is as close to perfection as an album can be (notwithstanding the bonus joints). From beginning to end, Extra P sounds at home dropping fresh lines over production that sonically covers traditional New York boom-bap to extraterrestrial sounds. If you consider yourself a fan of golden era hip-hip and you haven’t experienced Breaking Atoms there is a huge void in your soul that needs to be filled.

Did The Source Get It Right? Without question.


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3 Responses to Main Source – Breaking Atoms (July 23, 1991)

  1. me_again says:

    Main SOURCE, not Main “Atoms” 🙂

  2. SEVENTHREEO says:

    large pro was about 15/16 when they made/released atom and think, what a talented dude

    i don’t know if you checked it since you posted this review but unkut has tracks from the unreleased second album from before main source broke up, it’s called “the science” and it has some good tracks

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