Remember those endearing, bright red labels with the various Matador artists popping up from the CD racks of your favorite indie rock record store? Over the years, we have witnessed these red labels spread from their indie inception across the different genres and sections of our local record stores, a change caused by the record company’s growth and the diversification of its promising portfolio of talent. Now Matador presents the solo debut, 1st Class, by the hip-hop veteran, Large Professor, as the latest addition to the breadth of its repertoire. Surprisingly for Matador, a label known for its avant artists, this Large Prof drops some retroactive pedagogy steeped not in the classic tradition of Greece or Rome, but of old school hip-hop — a combination of classic beats and slick rhymes that walks the thin line between imitation and innovation.
On 1st Class, Large Professor controls the mic with typical boastful, ego-inflating MC flows, but falls short of fulfilling the many claims he makes on his album — he’s not delivering a “brand new sound” on “Brand New” and he’s not really “that fella’ with the mozzarella always cooking up the new hot sella'” on “‘Bout that Time.”