Breaking Atoms

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Breaking Atoms
Studio album by Main Source
Released July 23, 1991
Recorded 1990–1991
Homeboy Studio, Power Play Studios, Libra Digital
(New York, New York)
Genre Hip hop
Length 46:14
Label Wild Pitch/EMI
0777 7 97543 2 8
E2-97543
Producer Main Source
Main Source chronology
Breaking Atoms
(1991)
Fuck What You Think
(1994)
Singles from Breaking Atoms
  1. "Looking at the Front Door"
    Released: October 25, 1990
  2. "Watch Roger Do His Thing"
    Released: 1990
  3. "Just Hangin' Out"
    Released: May 14, 1991
  4. "Peace Is Not the Word to Play"
    Released: October 22, 1991
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[1]
The Baltimore Sun (favorable)[2]
Entertainment Weekly B+[3]
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (favorable)[4]
PopMatters (favorable)[5]
RapReviews (10/10)[6]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[7]
The Source 4.5/5 stars[8]
Trouser Press (favorable)[9]
The Washington Post (favorable)[10]

Breaking Atoms is the debut album of American hip hop group Main Source, released July 23, 1991 on Wild Pitch Records. Production for was handled by the group and took place during 1990 to 1991 at Homeboy Studio, Power Play Studios, and Libra Digital in New York City. Recorded during the golden age of hip hop, Breaking Atoms is distinguished stylistcally by its incorporation of jazz and soul music samples.[1] The album has been highly regarded by music writers due mostly to its production, whose heavy and original use of sampling influenced hip hop producers for a considerable portion of the 1990s.

The album has been widely regarded by writers and music critics as a significantly influential album and has been noted for debuting rapper Nas, who appears on the track "Live at the Barbeque".[7][11] His contribution to the song was sampled on "Genesis", the intro track to his debut album Illmatic (1994). Breaking Atoms has been recognized as one of the most important records in hip hop history, and was out of print in the United States after the demise of Wild Pitch Records in 1997. It was reissued on April 22, 2008 through Fontana Distribution.

Music[edit]

Breaking Atoms was produced using the E-mu SP-1200.[1] Allmusic's Steve Huey writes that the album's acclaim lies mostly in its production, which popularized a number of now widely imitated techniques. Huey describes that the "intricately constructed tracks are filled with jazz and soul samples, layered percussion, off-kilter sampling effects, and an overall sonic richness."[1] RapReviews' Dan Mennella also notes that the beats are the cornerstone of the record.[6] Dan Nishimoto of PopMatters considers the album's sampling to be "neatly layered, its subject matter is modest, and its overall tone is simply well executed fun."[5] In his book Classic Material: The Hip-Hop Album Guide, Oliver Wang writes that Large Professor as a producer "thinks in complete song structure, never focusing on one single element—a loop, a break—but always juggling them in unison."[12]

Reception[edit]

Upon its release, Breaking Atoms received mostly positive reviews from music critics. Entertainment Weekly's James Bernard writes that "Main Source may not break much new ground, but [it] offer[s] a clever, quietly seductive collection in which the bass and drum tracks casually strut instead of stomp, and the sparse samples of guitar and horns allow..Large Professor's voice to take center stage."[3] Since its initial reception, the album has received retrospective acclaim from writers and music critics. Allmusic writer Steve Huey declared it "one of the quintessential cult classics in hip-hop history."[1] Dan Mennella of RapReviews notes that many acknowledge Breaking Atoms to be on a similar level to Nas' Illmatic (1994) and A Tribe Called Quest's first three albums.[6]

Accolades[edit]

SoundProof magazine lists the album at number sixteen in "The Top 20 Toronto Albums Ever"[13] and About.com's Henry Adaso lists it at number twenty in the "100 Greatest Hip-Hop Albums".[14] In 2004's Rolling Stone Album Guide, Peter Relic writes that "From the candy-colored cover depicting the three members crowded around a fantasy science project to the uptempo beats and matching fast raps, it's a period piece whose meticulous presentation...make it an enduring pleasure from a bygone era."[7] In 1998, The Source magazine selected the album as one of its 100 Best Rap Albums.[15] Initially giving a four-and-a-half out of five "mic" rating,[8] The Source gave the album a five "mic" rating in a retrospective list of "5 Mic Hip-Hop Classics" in its 150th issue.[16]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written and produced by Main Source.

# Title Sample(s) Time
1 "Snake Eyes" 3:30
2 "Just Hangin' Out" 4:10
3 "Looking at the Front Door"
  • "You're Getting a Little Too Smart" by The Detroit Emeralds
  • "Chick a Boom" by Pazant Brothers and the Beaufort Express
  • "Think Twice" by Donald Byrd
  • "Baby Don't You Cry" by The Third Guitar
4:10
4 "Large Professor" 3:08
5 "Just a Friendly Game of Baseball" 3:22
6 "Scratch & Kut" 2:57
7 "Peace Is Not the Word to Play" 3:07
8 "Vamos a Rapiar"1 3:59
9 "He Got So Much Soul (He Don't Need No Music)"
  • "Hey Joyce" by Lou Courtney
3:34
10 "Live at the Barbeque" (featuring Nas, Joe Fatal, and Akinyele)
  • "I Want to Be in the Land of Milk & Honey" by Vicki Anderson
  • "The Man Tries Running His Usual Game but Sweetback's Jones Is So Strong He Wastes the Hounds (Yeah! Yeah! and Besides That He Will Be Comin' Back Takin' Names and Collecting Dues)" by Melvin Van Peebles
  • "Nautilus" by Bob James
4:35
11 "Watch Roger Do His Thing" 4:22
12 "Just a Friendly Game of Baseball (remix)" 4:02

Bonus tracks[edit]

2008 reissue bonus tracks.

  1. "Fakin the Funk (Remix)" (feat. Neek the Exotic) * **
    • Samples: "N.T." by Kool & The Gang
    • "Magic Shoes" by Main Ingredient
    • "Soul" by S.O.U.L.
    • "Be Black Baby" by Grady Tate
    • "Dawn of a New day" by O'Donel Levy
  2. "Peace Is Not the Word to Play" (Remix)
  3. "Just Hangin' Out" (Remix)
  4. "Bonafied Funk" (feat. The Brand New Heavies) ***
  5. "Atom"
  6. "Think"
  7. "How My Man Went Down in the Game"
  8. "Peace Is Not the Word to Play" (12" remix)
  9. "Time"
Notes

(*) - Though often labeled as Fakin' The Funk, this is actually the Remix. The original and remix of Fakin' The Funk are often confused. There is only two ways to distinguish one is in the time lengths: Remix - 3:41, Original - 3:25. the other is censorship, the original has some swearing while the version on this re-release has been re-written and has no cursing

(**) - Although only credited for Fakin' The Funk ("Remix" a.k.a. the actual original) Neek the Exotic actually appears on the Remix and the Original

(***) - This song, depending on the release, is slightly different from the single version/The Brand New Heavies album Heavy Rhyme Experience, Vol. 1 version in that it is approximately 1 minute longer and the organ noise is less prominent

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Breaking Atoms adapted from Allmusic.[17]

Singles[edit]

Single information
"Looking at the Front Door"
  • Released: October 25, 1990
  • B-side: "Watch Roger Do His Thing"
"Watch Roger Do His Thing"
  • Released: 1990
  • B-side: "Large Professor"
"Just Hangin' Out"
  • Released: May 14, 1991
  • B-side: "Live at the Barbeque"
"Peace Is Not the Word to Play"
  • Released: October 22, 1991
  • B-side: Video Remix / Instrumental

Chart history[edit]

Album[edit]

Chart (1991)[18] Peak
position
U.S. Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 40

Singles[edit]

Year Single Peak position[19]
Hot Rap Singles
1990 "Just Hangin' Out" 11
"Looking at the Front Door" 1

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Huey, Steve. Review: Breaking Atoms. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-08-15.
  2. ^ Considine, S.D. "Review: Breaking Atoms". The Baltimore Sun: 5. April 19, 1991. Archived from the original on 2009-08-15.
  3. ^ a b Bernard, James. Review: Breaking Atoms. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2009-08-15.
  4. ^ Tanzilo, Robert. "Review: Breaking Atoms". The Milwaukee Sentinel: 120. August 9, 1991.
  5. ^ a b Nishimoto, Dan. Call and Response - Pickin' Up the Pieces: Sampling from the Great Producers. PopMatters. Retrieved on 2009-08-15.
  6. ^ a b c Mennella, Dan. Review: Breaking Atoms. RapReviews. Retrieved on 2009-08-15.
  7. ^ a b c Hoard, Christian. "Review: Breaking Atoms". Rolling Stone: 510. November 2, 2004.
  8. ^ a b Shector, John (John the Sultan). "Review: Breaking Atoms". The Source: May 1991. Archived from the original on 2009-08-15.
  9. ^ Chang, Jeff. Review: Breaking Atoms. Trouser Press. Retrieved on 2009-08-15.
  10. ^ Griffin, Gil. "Review: Breaking Atoms". The Washington Post: n.21. April 12, 1991.
  11. ^ Scholtes, Peter S. Review: Breaking Atoms. City Pages. Retrieved on 2009-08-15.
  12. ^ Wang, Oliver, Classic Material: The Hip-Hop Album Guide (published 2003), p. 34, ISBN 1-55022-561-8
  13. ^ Petaccia, Leo. The Top 20 Toronto Albums Ever. SoundProof. Retrieved on 2009-08-15.
  14. ^ Adaso, Henry. 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Albums. About.com. Retrieved on 2009-08-15.
  15. ^ Staff. "100 Best Rap Albums". The Source: Issue 100. January 1998.
  16. ^ Kazeem (August 4, 2010). The Complete List Of 5 Mic Hip-Hop Classics. The Source. Retrieved on 2010-12-23.
  17. ^ Credits: Breaking Atoms. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-08-15.
  18. ^ Billboard Albums: Breaking Atoms. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-08-15.
  19. ^ Billboard Singles: Breaking Atoms. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-08-15.

External links[edit]