Main Source Are Back, And They Still Don’t Care What You Think
Main Source, the seminal ’90s New York/Toronto hip-hop collective, is having a Cinderella story many believe can’t happen anymore. Two decades removed from the original release of their landmark debut album Breaking Atoms — which Vinyl Me, Please reissued — the group has experienced a new wave of acclaim from generations past and present. Cratediggers, heads and blog kids alike have flocked to the Main Source catalog for the soulful nostalgia and no-nonsense street tales; since the Breaking Atoms rerelease, Main Source has headlined in the U.S. and toured Europe extensively off the strength of a second chance.
Now, VMP’s reissuing Fuck What You Think: a darker, brasher record that bites and fights to silence its critics in the face of label pushbacks and dissent over new personnel. The album dropped in 1994, a whisper in the golden wind, while its major single “What You Need” went on to have its bassline lifted for the smash hit “Human Nature” by Madonna. And like Nas’ debut appearance on “Live at the Barbecue,” Fuck What You Think features the LOX’s debut appearance on “Set It Off.” With the New York underground bubbling with the rugged East Coast sound permeating worldwide — Griselda Records, CRIMEAPPLE and Mach-Hommy to name a few — soul is back, the legends remain and the game’s primed for more of the Main Source.
There’s a tone shift from Breaking Atoms where it felt like Main Source had something to prove, but it definitely left its imprint, left its mark. Fuck What You Think felt very like, “Fuck y’all, fuck everybody, I proved it already, y’all thought I didn’t have the beats like that, y’all thought I was tryna just replace somebody but it’s fuck y’all.”
K-Cut: I’m not into politics, you know what I mean? Usually the hip-hop game is like, “This person has a beef with that person,” and for me, it wasn’t about having a beef, it was about music. So, we just wanted to just do music and put our music out there and get everybody to listen to it. Do you know what I mean? So it never was a thing of politicking with Large Pro, or like, “We’re gonna prove Large Pro wrong.” It was all about, “Yo, Mike had skills from day one, and I produce; we just want people to listen to what we’ve been holdin’ in for a minute,” you know what I mean? It’s about showing the art, the craft, who you are as an artist and who you are as a producer, and let the world know. That’s what I think Main Source is about: It’s not about who’s the best.
Within the circle — meaning Large Pro, K-Cut, Mikey D, Sir Scratch — we’ve all worked with numerous different A-list artists, so for us, it’s all about [what sound we’re producing]. [Our engineer] Paul C left us his legacy in terms of how he showed us to make music. So for us, we all know how to produce, so we all have our fingers in a lot of things in the industry that Paul C left for us. We’re a group that are really artistic and it’s about the music.
Mikey D: Let me elaborate just a little bit and build on that. There was always a lot of comparison between the two albums, but what people failed to understand is, Large Professor and myself are two different caliber-type rappers. Large Professor writes dope, dope, dope, dope songs; me myself, if you listen to the second album, I’m more of an aggressor, because I’m naturally a battle rapper. So I came across a little stronger because that’s my element. And what a lot of people don’t understand also about the second album: We were racing against the clock, so we really didn’t have a lot of time to sit back and marinate and take our time. We were really doin’ work, and there was no time to breathe. It was just spontaneous, you know, it was insane. The difference between Large Professor and myself: We’re two different calibers, I could never step in his shoes or try to replace him, so that was never the intention.
What has the response been like on y’all end and y’all careers ever since Vinyl Me, Please stepped in and reissued the first record — Breaking Atoms — and now are reissuing the second — Fuck What You Think — what are the new fans coming to you and saying? How are the older folks who connected with you those decades ago coming back around to the material now, how is this music landing now when it’s in the street?
K-Cut: I’m getting like DMs every single day talking about “Hey, listen, the first album is amazing.” People tell me the second album is fucking brilliant. Back in the day when we did Fuck What You Think, the record actually didn’t come out, [the label] held the record back. They re-released it a couple years back, so a lot of people are catching onto it. A lot of people in Europe, when I was up there last year, they was like, “Yo, where’s Mikey D? When are you doin’ that Fuck What You Think album? It’s incredible, it’s brilliant.” So we got fans of both albums, which is so fucking amazing, and that makes me [very] happy because we accomplished what we wanted to do [with] the music. Vinyl Me, Please re-releasing Breaking Atoms gave it a new light or new life, you know what I’m sayin’? And now that we’re doing the second album, it’s another new light. For the old people that missed it — and the new people that are catching onto it — everybody is like, “Yo, where was this record?” It’s almost like one of those obscure psychedelic records that we find and it’s just like, “Oh, shit, this is crazy!” For me, Vinyl Me, Please is like the best company ever, because they reach a lot of people, and I’m happy with what they’re doing.