Happy 25th Anniversary to Main Source’s second & final studio album Fuck What You Think, originally released March 22, 1994.
To have your record sampled on a huge Madonna hit is not an accolade many hip-hop albums can claim, but Main Source’s Fuck What You Think (1994) can. That was thanks to rap and R&B producer Dave Hall who produced much of Madonna’s triple-platinum Bedtime Stories (1994), sampling Main Source’s “What You Need” on the single “Human Nature.” It is a relatively obscure footnote to Fuck What You Think, an album that doesn’t seem to be remembered as fondly as it should be.
In a time before streaming was a thing and attention spans were longer, full-length albums were important. The dreaded sophomore album jinx was real, especially in the competitive and combative arena of rap. The pressure was ramped up even more if your first album had been instantly recognized as a genre-defining classic. Main Source’s 1991 debut Breaking Atoms is notable for featuring the breakthrough performance of a young Nas on “Live at the Barbeque,” but has so much more on offer than that, mostly thanks to the talent of the now-legendary producer and emcee Large Professor.
When it was time to record a second album, in addition to the high expectations, Main Source had a huge problem to tackle: Large Professor was no longer part of the fold, having left the group before work began on what was to be a follow-up album named The Science. The remaining members of Main Source, K-Cut and Sir Scratch, regrouped, ditched The Science and recorded 1994’s Fuck What You Think instead.
K-Cut assumed the role of main producer and does a solid job on the whole. It would have been tempting to rehash the same territory as Breaking Atoms, and indeed K-Cut does this at times, like on “Set it Off” where he uses the same “The Man Tries Running His Usual Game But Sweetback's Jones is So Strong He Wastes the Hounds” sample from the Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song soundtrack that was used on “Live at the Barbeque.” K-Cut does create his own sound however, and while it may not have been as innovative as what Large Professor, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Diamond D or Q-Tip were doing at the same time elsewhere, the overall feel of Fuck What You Think sits comfortably in the canon of ‘90s New York boom bap. And this is especially impressive considering K-Cut and Sir Scratch are in fact from Toronto.
The absence of Large Professor meant that Main Source also needed a new emcee, so they drafted in veteran rapper Mikey D. An established artist since the mid-1980s with a string of records on influential labels like Sleeping Bad, Mikey D is a viciously-dope rapper and was a solid addition to the group.
Having Mikey D in Main Source also maintained lineage with Large Professor. Mikey worked extensively in the mid-late ‘80s with producer Paul ‘Paul C’ McKasty on records for his group, Mikey D and The LA Posse. Paul C would later produce on numerous classic hip-hop albums while mentoring a young new talent along the way, Large Professor. The relationship afforded Large Pro the chance to work on albums by Eric B. & Rakim, Kool G Rap and others, laying the foundations for Main Source and the incredible production career he’s gone on to have. Paul C was tragically murdered in 1997, a mystery still unsolved to this day. Large Professor frequently pays tribute to his lost mentor and has been influential in helping new fans discover his music.
Mikey D puts in an impressive vocal performance throughout the album, using his skills as a battle emcee to maximum effect. For example on “Down Low,” where he spits: “Uno of Mikey D's freestyles is rougher than a rapper with practice / I'm fantastic, true meaning of what bad is / 15 years on the scene, could never fall back / A small pack, and fucking right, I think I'm all that / You know a n***a with a doubt? / Well you can bring him to my session and watch me take him out.”
There are also a few curious guests on Fuck What You Think. The title track and “Set It Off” feature Sha-Queen. Her hard, fast-paced flow is clearly influenced by a certain iconic emcee who she also happened to be married to, one Kool G Rap. “Set It Off” also features a couple of hungry young emcees who were then unknown but four years later went on to have huge platinum success, Jadakiss and Sheek Louch of The Lox.
Fuck What You Think is Main Source’s last album to date. A lavish re-issue of Breaking Atoms in 2017 sparked a reunion tour featuring the original line-up, with Large Professor suggesting that new music may be on the way in 2019.