“I should have called this New York Giants!” Pete told a crowd recently, and he’s right…
Everyone from NY knows that our relationship with “new york’s finest” (aka the police) is a little sketchy. But questionable titles aside, Pete Rock has finally blessed us with the long awaited follow-up to Soul Survivor 2.
The most dramatic difference between this and its predecessors is the focus on Pete as an MC. While the long list of guests like Jim Jones, Royal Flush, Little Brother, Styles and Sheek keep this squarely in the compilation category, Pete makes sure you know this is HIS project. But listening to a Pete Rock album for Pete Rock lyrics is like watching Spike Lee flicks for his acting cameos–you’re missing the point. Pete could rap like the second coming of Notorious B.I.G. but if the beats don’t rock then the streets won’t cop.
So how are the beats? Over the years Pete has steered away from his signatures (jazzy horns with a hint of reverb and filtered bass lines over pounding drums) in order not to be pigeon-holed, but he’s still a chop master. While I don’t want to set off the snitch alarm (none of the samples are credited on the CD) what he did on “We Roll” is nothing short of genius. His manipulation of a very, very classic piece of 70s soul makes it almost unrecognizable and proves that with a little imagination you can take a pile of sand that everybody’s walked on and make glass.
This is further evidenced on “914” featuring Styles and Sheek. Putting some stank on the classic Skull Snaps drum break, Pete weaves in several familiar elements into a completely original composition. However, “Best Believe” and “Til I Retire” are examples of the “new” Pete Rock; tightly chopped samples with simpler drums over thicker bass lines. On the other hand, “Questions” and “Bring Ya’ll Back” is more “vintage” Pete Rock, where he lets the sample breath a little more with conservative use of dark and moody horns over dirty drums. The best compromise between his old and new styles is the “The Best Kept Secret” featuring Lords of the Underground. Pete has always been great at sampling piano and here he balances the jazzy keys with thick bass and drums that sound more analog and dusty. For contrast listen to the clean drums, shakers and piano on “That’s What I’m Talking About” featuring Rell that are more ’07/’08 style.
The nodfactor is in the redzone on “PJs” which flaunts the same “funky worm” bass line sample as Large Professor’s “Mad Scientist.” ( I know that’s not what’s its called but you diggers know what I’m talking about.) But it’s been out for so long that it lacks the same punch as the new material.
The only beat Pete didn’t do was Green Lantern’s “Don’t Be Mad.” While it features some cool turntable tricks, it’s much closer to the mid tempo joint he gave Immortal Technique on “Bin Laden” than the over-the-top sample gymnastics of Ludacris’ “Number One Spot” or Busta’s “In The Ghetto.” Granted, those are two of the most animated MCS in the game and better suited to handle that kind of energy, but I’d contend that Pete’s flow is so straight on that a little more color in the beat couldn’t have hurt.
Regardless of who’s track it is, at the end of the day NY’s Finest more than passes Nodfactor.com’s “no words” test: would we bang the instrumental of this album? ABSOLUTELY. After twenty years in the game Pete Rock is still not only one of New York’s finest producers, but one of the finest, period. The champ is here.
Think I’m wrong? Speak ya clout in the comments section…