Lean With It, Rock With It

January 19, 2006

(Pete Rock photo by Matthew Salacuse)

It's a regular Pete Rock-stravaganza! The producer's producer is going to be DJing at Joe's Pub in NYC tonight at 11pm - and before that, he's going to hit up East Village Radio for a guest appearance at 8. To tie-in with all of that, we're going to post up DJ Language's Pete Rock piece from F35, just for you, our beloved internet readers. Check for it after the jump.

No Time To Reminisce
by DJ Language

“Back in the ’90s era, I felt like I was a little ahead of myself,” says Money-Earnin’ Mount Vernon producer Pete Rock. “I feel like people are still chasing that Pete Rock sound today.” Though it was Rock’s soul-driven beats and remixes that helped define the Golden Era of hip-hop, he’s recently seen a surprising resurgence with high profile work for 50 Cent, Jim Jones, Raekwon, and Ghostface Killah. But what’s most impressive about Rock’s new tracks is that it takes a trip to the liner notes before you realize that you are indeed listening to a Pete Rock production. His beat for Ghostface’s single “Be Easy” is a stark contrast to the lush layers of chopped horns and jazz loops that characterized his sound until now. Instead “Be Easy” is a ruggedly minimal, straight-up beat—the brass-heavy fanfare on the intro and chorus only emphasize the spare bump of the track. The two must have found an unpredictable chemistry with Rock landing five tracks on Ghost’s upcoming Fish Scale album. “Right now, me reinventing myself is just showing that I can change with the times,” says Rock. “And as a hip-hop producer, you have to be versatile.” On Raekwon’s “Kids That’s Rich”, he lays a grimy Stax/Volt beat underneath a flute sample chopped and sliced into a million abstract pieces, providing the perfect guide for the Chef’s Cuban Linx-style gems.

Of course Rock maintains he never disappeared. After parting ways with partner CL Smooth after 1995’s Main Ingredient, Rock released his slept-on showcases Soul Survivor and Soul Survivor 2, and continued to rack up credits in rap’s middle ground. “I was always in the cut,” he insists, “I always kept my ear tuned to the street, to the radio, and to music around me.” And with Kanye West leading the revival of sample-based tracks in recent years—and even referring to himself in lyrics as “the new version of Pete Rock”—the climate seemed perfect for the man himself to return.

“My thing is to reinvent myself, stay busy and then come out and do something different to show people that you’re still relevant,” he says. And relevant right now means hooking up a love-jam-gone-wrong backdrop for 50 Cent’s syrupy taunts on the Game-baiting “Emotional”. Rock has now found himself added to the roster of G-Unit-favored producers, working on upcoming projects for Mobb Deep and MOP—two acts who, not coincidentally, were Rock’s contemporaries the first time around. But it’s not nostalgia when it sounds like now.

Posted: January 19, 2006
Lean With It, Rock With It