On today’s (July 22) episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN sat down with iconic producer and rapper Large Professor to talk about his work with Nas, Queens, hip hop in the ’90s, and more.

Born William Paul Mitchell in Harlem, New York in 1973, Large Professor made a name for himself in the early ’90s as part of the hip hop group Main Source. Their debut album, Breaking Atoms, which was entirely produced by the beatmaker, is considered a classic and was particularly notable for its innovative use of sampling. It spawned records like “Live At The Barbeque” and “Looking At The Front Door,” both of which helped propel the album to No. 40 on the U.S. Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart.

Aside from his work with Main Source, Professor has been instrumental in shaping the sound of hip hop through his production for some of the most respected artists in the genre. His collaborations with Nas, particularly on the rapper’s debut album Illmatic, are celebrated as defining moments in rap. Songs like “It Ain’t Hard To Tell,” “Halftime,” and “You’re Da Man” not only serve as some of his most popular contributions, but laid the groundwork for Nas as well. Other notable artists he worked with include Eric B. and Rakim, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, and A Tribe Called Quest, to name just a few.

As a solo artist, Professor released several albums beginning with 1st Class in 2002. Over the years, he’s been consistent in delivering his classic boom-bap sound with his most recent album, Re:Living, coming out in 2015.

To give fans a recap, REVOLT compiled a list of nine facts we learned from Large Professor’s “Drink Champs” interview. Keep scrolling to read them.

1. On watching Nas become a prominent figure in hip hop

Being one of the very first to work with the rapper, Professor and Nas’ relationship dates back to the ’90s. When asked if he knew the Queensbridge musician would become the commercially successful artist many know today, Professor replied, “Absolutely.”

“Coming from Queensbridge, he was already 50 points good to 100. It was like, you’re coming from the hub. You’re good. At the time, to have the combination… He had that wordplay, that humbleness too… Nas was maybe like 16, 17 when I met him,” he added.

2. On JAY-Z allegedly showing Nas a TEC-9 semi-automatic on tour

During Nas and JAY-Z’s decadeslong beef, the latter criticized his then-rival for not having any street credit. In Hov’s 2001 song “Takeover,” he alleged that Nas had never seen a TEC-9 until they were on tour. The lyrics stated, “I showed you your first TEC on tour with Large Professor. Then I heard your album ’bout your TEC on the dresser.”

“I don’t know [that it was] Nas’ first time seeing a TEC, but the story is true. He did pull out a TEC on the bus… We had a little problem out in D.C. and so what happened, it be them curfews… It was JAY, [Jazzy Jay], me, Nas, [Akinyele]. I think Ja Rule and them might of been there ‘cause Irv was on that tour too,” Pro explained. He recalled the event taking place in Washington, D.C. after the group had to fend off an angry crowd for not performing.

Professor continued, “It’s funny because JAY was in the back… and sure enough, he had the gym bag. He was like, ‘Nah, y’all don’t have to worry about nothing.’ He had that heat.”

3. On Aaliyah being mentioned in Nas’ original version of “Ether”

Dropped in December 2001, Nas’ diss record “Ether” went through several changes before being officially released. According to Pro, one of the original lines on the record saw the Queensbridge artist sending shots at Hov by referring to the late Aaliyah. The lines reportedly read, “Sorry, Aaliyah. I’m sorry it was you in the plane crash. It should’ve been JAY… Dame Dash.”

“I was there when they recorded. I was there with Swizz Beatz… Aaliyah plane crash line and all that. We was wilding. It was crazy,” Pro stated. “It was some lines in there that was too far.”

4. On Main Source’s “Looking At The Front Door”

“Looking At The Front Door” was just one of Main Source’s standout tracks. Upon its debut in 1990, the record peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart for three consecutive weeks. Professor shared that despite the breakup song’s disheartening nature, the woman he was dating at the time was good to him.

“The girl I was down with… We was great and I found out years later. One of these mystical people that I met, they told me, ‘You wasn’t talking about a relationship. You was talking about a world problem. You was talking about many people’s lives.’ I had to get therapy a bit, hood therapy. My life was sweet a bit now that I look back.”

5. On Eric B. and Rakim’s producer Paul C getting killed

Late producer Paul C was best known for his work on tracks like “Run For Cover” and “Untouchables” on Eric B. and Rakim‘s third studio album, Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em. However, amid working on the project, he was shot and killed while sleeping in a basement bedroom. Picking up where he left off, Professor handled instrumentals for the rest of the project.

Pro explained, “The story was told to me that Rakim was rolling, and one of his boys tried to shout at Paul’s wife. Paul’s wife was like, ‘Actually, you need to speak to my husband about some beats ‘cause he’s fire.’ Then, [Rakim] went and seen Paul, and actually seen that Paul was fire. So that clicked the clack, did what they had to do and s**t. Paul was on board with working with Eric B. and Rakim, and then, untimely demise with someone coming in his basement and shooting him.”

6. On producing Kool G Rap’s “Streets of New York”

Kool G Rap and DJ Polo’s “Streets of New York” marked the duo’s first single as a group, appearing on their album Wanted: Dead or Alive. Produced by Professor, the record helped propel their full-length project to No. 3 on the U.S. Rap Chart in the late 1990s. One of the main highlights of the song was its piano and saxophone, which was sampled from The Fatback Band’s “Gotta Learn How to Dance.”

“I was doing night school at Jamaica High School. After that, I would go in. G would pick me up; that’s when he had the white Maxima… I was doing night sessions with him. So it would be nine or 10 o’clock,” he explained. Pro added, “‘Streets of New York’ was one of them nights when I had came in. He was playing the keyboard. All of them was keyboard sounds. That’s when n**gas was doing them solos.”

7. On working on Nas’ Illmatic

Nas’ 1994 album Illmatic is widely considered one of the best hip hop albums of the ’90s, helming classic tracks like “Life’s A B**ch” and “N.Y. State of Mind.” Released when the rapper was only 20 years old, Large Professor worked on three of the 14 records. When asked about the timing of the album, the producer explained that there were many problems going on in the background.

“The streets was bubbling. It was technical difficulties. We was working on a low budget. It was all type of that first album s**t that you could get,” Pro said.

8. On 50 Cent and Supreme’s beef destroying Queens’ music scene

Referenced in 50 Cent’s 2000 song “Ghetto Qu’ran (Forgive Me),” Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff and his organized crime syndicate, The Supreme Team, reigned terror on Queens. The kingpin was also reportedly connected to 50 Cent infamously getting shot nine times. Both being Queens natives, Professor recalled how his hometown was gutted as a result of internal beefs and crew rivalries.

“You look at Fif. You look at ‘Preme. Remove the f**king beef, and just put them n**gas in a picture together and it’s all fly n**gas. Black Just… That’s the flyest n**ga on Earth,” he emphasized. “They always say that. People come to me and they say, ‘They … don’t f**k with y’all Queens n**gas ‘cause y’all n**gas don’t even get along with yourselves.’ Then we manifested that s**t through the music.”

9. On creating Smoke N’ Beatz

One of Large Professor’s more recent endeavors, the legendary producer launched Smoke N’ Beatz earlier this year. It serves as a get-together for hip hop enthusiasts and beatmakers alike with recent guests being Illa Ghee, Yasiin Bey, and Fredro Starr. Toward the end of the interview, Pro invited N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN to host one of their upcoming events.

“It’s an event that we do. It’s a movement. We had King of Chill in there, the n**ga that was [working with] MC Lyte. And play beats. I be playing all of these joints,” Pro stated. “It’s so much love in there, man. Contrary to how hip hop used to be, it starts and finishes with all love.”