BREAKING ATOMS: MAIN SOURCE Sunday 02 October, 2011

Intelligent lyrics. Excellent breaks. Nas’ first appearance on record. Just some of the reasons why this album is solid gold.

But really…what more reason do you need to go out and procure this album?  It might be quite hard to purchase a copy of this from HMV but it’s worth scouting about a bit for it.

I think the first time I heard Main Source was on Max LX and Dave VJ’s Kiss FM hip hop chart show.  The Donald Byrd (Think Twice. Check it out it’s a veritable treasure trove of house and hip hop samples) sampling Looking At The Front Door lodged itself in that chart for weeks.  It’s a clever record about the end of a relationship.  It’s such a clever record that even my hip hop hating mother liked it.

After that record got under my skin I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the album.  If it’s difficult to get hold of a copy of this album now, it was only marginally easier when it was released.  Especially if you lived in a new town not far from the Thames estuary.  One of the few rays of light was that there was an independent record shop which mainly sold hardcore (as was then and now DnB) records but did a small line in hip hop imports.

Yes kids, back in the distant past we were reliant on record companies releasing the work of foreign artists.  In 1991 hip hop was very much a minority sport and that meant that it was highly unlikely that a UK record company would go to the trouble of releasing a record like Breaking Atoms here.  Main Source were on a record label called Wild Pitch which had a pretty impressive roster (Gang Starr & Ultramag!) but no presence in the UK. Which meant that as a twelve year old I had to buy albums that were much more expensive than the albums that everybody else was buying because they had to be imported from the US.  I think in many ways that made the records seem more special to me as a child but this is one of those records that does not need any assistance to seem special.

Right from the opening bars of the opening track Snake Eyes you get the feeling that you are in for a treat and it’s no accident that Main Source have the talent to back up the promise.  Every track on here is pretty special but you have to go pretty far to find anything that comes close to Live At The Barbecue.  This is the first time anybody heard Nas on record.  Even now this track is spine tingling and every MC delivers stinging verses.  It is hip hop of the highest order.

It is hard for me to imagine that this album is now twenty years old but I’m listening to it as I write it and it still has the punch necessary to floor the majority of it’s modern day competition.

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