Navigating his masterly beats between coziness and jazziness, Pete Rock was one of the DJ/producers that gave the 90s their multi-layered flavour. Expanding his unique momentum into our times, this soul brother has a lot to tell in this Fireside Chat on Red Bull Music Academy Radio.
Born in the Bronx as the sixth of seven children of Jamaican immigrants and growing up in Mount Vernon, New York, Pete Rock first stepped onto the scene as a DJ on Marley Marl’s legendary radio show in the late 80s. Soon after, Eddie F, then DJ for Pete Rock’s cousin Heavy D, gave Pete his first drum machine and taught him some basic skills. Soon after, Pete had created his own innovative beatmaking technique and instantly recognizable trademark sound.
Along with groups such as Stetsasonic, A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots and Gang Starr, Pete played a major role in the merging of elements from jazz into hip hop music (also known as jazz rap). He is widely recognised as one of the greatest hip hop producers of all time, and is often mentioned alongside DJ Premier and RZA as one of the mainstays of 1990s East Coast Hip Hop production.
From his debut EP All Souled Out with rapper C.L. Smooth in 1991, to the duo's landmark albums Mecca And The Soul Brother and The Main Ingredient, Pete's unique method of sampling original recordings, chopping, filtering, and then layering them made his beats stand out from the flood of SP-1200 explorations of that time, and earned him the name 'Soul Brother No. 1'.
Besides his group work, Pete Rock started producing for artists like Nas and Run DMC, as well as getting into remixing work for the likes of Notorious B.I.G. and Public Enemy, whose Shut Em Down he transformed into a horn-driven hip hop monster.
Pete Rock himself has named his main musical influences as being influential hip hop producer and close friend Marley Marl and the tight grooves of legendary soul musician James Brown.
After parting ways with C.L. Smooth in 1995, Pete went on to release several solo albums, and collaborated with rap luminaries like Wu-Tang Clan, Redman, Slum Village, J Dilla, The LOX, Smif-N-Wessun, and more recently, the pairing of superstars Jay-Z and Kanye West... the list is endless.
Time to reminisce with the one and only Chocolate Boy Wonder in a Fireside Chat on Red Bull Music Academy Radio:
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – Straighten It Out – Elektra
Public Enemy – Shut Em Down (Pe-Te Rock Mixx) – Def Jam Recordings
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.) – Elektra
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – Can't Front On Me – Elektra
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – One In A Million – Epic
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – Death Becomes You – Jive
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – Escape – Elektra
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – Worldwide – Elektra
Nas - The World Is Yours – Columbia
Large Professor & Pete Rock – The Rap World – Big Beat/Atlantic
InI - Fakin Jax – Elektra
Pete Rock – Da Two Feat. C.L. Smooth – Loud Records
Pete Rock – Mind Blowin' – Loud Records
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – Searching (Remix) – Elektra
Pete Rock – For The People – BBE
Pete Rock – The PJ’s Feat. Raekwon & Masta Killa – Nature Sounds
Kanye West – The Joy Feat. Pete Rock, Jay Z, Charlie Wilson, Curtis Mayfield & Kid Cudi – G.O.O.D. Music
Pete Rock & Smif-N-Wessun – That's Hard ft Sean Price & Styles P – Duck Down