Pete Rock is just a man from money earnin’ Mount Vernon, New York who loved his SP12000. He’s also one of Hip-Hop’s most important, respected producers for 20 years strong. It’s already difficult to make a career from producing. Just imagine ushering rap into a new era with fresh sounds making peers think twice about sampling James Brown or George Clinton.
Moreover, PR helped revolutionized the idea of the producer having a public identity. He, via rapping and/or ad-libs, assisted in bringing producers out of the shadows and into the spotlight without being invasive. The latter point is key since DJ/rapper/producer hybrids currently struggle with letting beats and rappers breathe *cough*SwizzBeats.*cough*
Let’s not forget his sound influenced some the genre’s biggest names long after the “golden era” ended. J Dilla was an unabashed Pete Rock fanatic and oftentimes made his records with a “what would Pete Rock do?” angle. Shades of Pete appear throughout 9th Wonder’s discography. Kanye has his funny ways of showing appreciation for Pete’s work. Plus, odds are some of your favorite producers draw inspiration from him in some form or fashion.
We’re overdue for a walk through on some of Pete’s best productions. Let’s get this edition of the Primer going just in time for his birthday. Get your speakers or headphones ready and don’t forget to thank Pete while the beats invade your system.
1. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – “Straighten It Out”
Intros, outros, breaks and everything in between are all far game for the Chocolate Boy Wonder. “Straighten It Out” houses one of Pete’s earliest examples of weaving said aspects together in a tight blend. Also the horns on the hook beat Red Bull to the punch in giving you wings.
There’s a joke in here about the song title coinciding with Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s future project. Now’s not the time for it, though.
2. Notorious B.I.G. – “Juicy”
The tale behind “Juicy” from Pete’s perspective goes as follows. You’re listening to Pete Rock’s take on the Juicy which was supposed to go down in history as Biggie’s grand debut. Then Puffy and Trackmasters rearranged Pete’s version on the Mtume sample without giving P credit…which sounds eerily similar Dre Dog’s “The Ave.” The sequencing on Dre Dog’s sound predated all instances of Biggie’s “Juicy” by two years. Rap history is full of thick plots like this. All we ask is for you to #staywokedog.