It’s time to reminisce for a spell, and get chocolate wasted with this one here, hip-hop heads… This pot of Gumbo goodness right here, will rival anything Bubba in Forest Gump put on a plate! I have access to a hip-hop icon with a recipe that turned the hip-hop game on its ear for over 25 years and is still, till this day… good to the last basedrop!
The ingredients: First take some World Wide Respected & Connected, add two turn tables and a microphone, a classic catalog and sprinkle in a resume that ensures he will always be protected, as Soul Brotha Number 1. Stir it up in a pot, til it’s nice and hot and what you got is none other, who else could it be, but the Chocolate Boy Wonder himself, the amazingly gifted, Mr. Pete Rock!!! One half of the critically acclaimed group Pete Rock & CL Smooth, that gave us the hip-hop classic They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.) in.’92 off the Mecca & The Soul Brother LP.
As you can imagine, I had a million and three questions to ask someone who has worked with almost every single hip-hop artist that’s ever influenced this genre as a whole. He is considered of the best hip-hop producers of ALL TIME, and man!!! I wanna know everything !! I wanted to start in 87, I was twelve-ish around that time, the WBLS days, on Marley Marl’s show is where I first heard him. He had a very distinctive style and sound and the ability to create incredible blends that caused him to stand out amongst his peers. I knew better than to assume that’s where it started for the younger cousin of the late great Heavy D (R.I.P.). He took us back, back to where it began.
You were obviously born with an ear for music, I even heard your dad was a dj, how old were you when you began and what was “The Song” you heard that ignited the fire within to want to begin a career in music?
“For me, it was ever since I was 3 and I could understand sound. The first songs to influence me were James Brown. Then at 7, it was hip hop, Furious 5, Grandmaster Flash etc, plus around my way in my hood there was a lot of talent. Being around my cousin Heav, we were so inspired by music in general, that’s what inspired what was in me, and he (Heav) was the one who noticed my talent.”
I remember you Djing back in 87 on WBLS with another legend in hip hop Marly Marl, How did you make the transition from DJing to Production?
“Heav was the one who push me in everything, Heav & Marley Marl gave me a shot. I was lucky enough to get a shot at an opportune time and take advantage of the opportunity. I transitioned by just being inspired, DJ Eddie F helped me learn how to use equipment, then once I learned how to use the equipment I just started doing everything on my own. I was still signed to Eddie F, he had the untouchables back in the day. As a producer at first I met CL we got together and made some songs and did our first appearances on R&B records.”
You know I have to ask this, what is your most embarrassing moment as a DJ?
“My most embarrassing DJ moment was I was doing a show at the Apollo, every one was in there I mean the place was rocking! Then out of nowhere the record skips! We had to do the song all over! You know, start the whole thing from the beginning . It was still rocking, you just gotta keep rocking, no matter what, keep going.”
What was your go to piece of equipment to use in the 80’s & 90’s to achieve your signature sound, an what is your favorite go to piece now?
“I was using all kinds of drum machines in the beginning, I immediately got a good feeling when the SP 1200 came out and learned how to use it, that’s the one I used and based my whole career on. And today I use the mp3 6000 sl”
Who was your all time favorite artist to work with? And who would you like to work with?
“Everyone I worked with I had no complaints about, I had fun with everyone I worked with.. Who I would like to work with? Wow.. Ahh let’s see.. I already worked with Kendrick.. I would like to work with.. Hmm.. Rick Ross, cats that are passionate and have love doing music, LL Cool J, you know, ones I’ve never worked with.. I’m willing to work with whoever wants to work with me.”
So you’ve never worked with LL?
“No, not yet”
You come from an era in hip hop where some would say it’s more authentic than it is now. Do you agree? And do you notice a difference in today’s artist?
“Well back then it was no internet it was no nothing like that. The communication was different, everything was real different. Today it’s just updated, people are trying to do more things in hip hop. Back in the day it was more – Real. There should be a mix but it should be more of what’s real in the mix of what’s going on in today’s society.”
So you would say technology has a part to play?
“I look at it as the game of hip hop is spread out so big, you have prisms in hip hop you can pick and choose your weapon. That’s what I believe is the difference today. To me, I’d like to hear more originality and less lyrics that people can’t learn from.”
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be and why?
“The Music.. Less strip club hip-hop, save it strictly for the strip clubs and not for radio. You know, not have to listen to it during the daytime. ”
Ok I’m about to put you on the spot and ask you who is your top 5 MC’s of this era in hip-hop? And who is your 6 man? Jeopardy music is playing lol…
Ok Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bad Ass, Action Bronson, Kanye, Childish Gambino..
Don’t forget about your 6 man now?
“Ok my six man would be ..
See I like hardcore rap .. The Lox”
(We both laugh and air high-five in agreeance) he then says firmly “Yea,They’re one of my favorite dudes.”
This is a question I’m sure everyone wants to know, how did you achieve such longevity in the game and remain so consistent?
“Just loving what I do and staying passionate and keeping that feeling of never forgetting what good music is and what it does for me, my family and my people. And just staying inspired. And a word from my cousin who’s passed on who always said to me don’t ever quit stay inspired. And I chose to keep that as my alma mater and keep it moving.”
What projects are you currently working on?
“I just finished working with Kendrick for his new album, and some other projects, and I also have an album coming out on June 23, it’s an instrumental album called “Petestrumentals 2″ it’s available right now for pre-order on iTunes!”
A musical genius has spoken people! Still a force, still conscious, and still a game changer! Chances are he’s still one of your favorite producers’ favorite producer! Your favorite rapper’s too! It was an honor to have a glimpse into the mind of one of the best and such an astute talent! definitely an inspiration! We at Black Westchester proudly support and look forward to all his future endeavors!
Pete Rocks new album “Petestrumentals 2” is available for pre-order right now on iTunes!
Follow Pete Rock on Social Media: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook
Look out for Pete Rock to appear on an upcoming episode of The People Before Politics show
About Priscilla Echi: Priscilla Echi provides communication support for Urban Soul Media Group (Black Westchester & People Before Politics Radio Show). She has worked in the High End Costumer Service Management and Non Profit arena for over 15 years. She has also been around music & fashion for over 20 years. This experience has given her distinctive vision and deep appreciation for how communication through media and non-profit work when managed well, can improve the quality of life in our region, one program at a time.