March 24, 2022
Photo by: Johnny Nunez/Contributor
Pete Rock is one of the most visionary and renowned producers in Hip Hop history.
The famous beat master from Mt. Vernon, New York, has always had one of the sharpest sampling ears in the business, having mined some of the most obscure and unforgettable jazz, funk, and soul tracks for some of Hip-Hop’s most acclaimed albums and singles.
The 51-year-old’s genius creativity has provided much to Hip-Hop, both with his former partner C.L. Smooth and as a solo artist, producer, and collaborator. Not to mention, he’s one of the most accomplished DJs in the game.
To celebrate one of our favorite producers, DJs, and rappers, here are our favorite Pete Rock-produced songs!
Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s – “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y)”
The song was released as the lead single from their debut album, Mecca and the Soul Brother, in 1992 and became a classic of early 1990s hip hop. The song reached #1 on the Hot Rap Tracks chart and #58 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Pete Rock wrote this song for Trouble T-Roy, a dancer with Heavy D and the Boyz, and it is one of Hip Hop’s best elegies. T-Roy died in 1990 following a fall during a concert, and Pete Rock used samples from Tom Scott and The California Dreams’ “Today” and The Beginning of The End’s “When She Made Me Promise” to create this masterpiece.
Run D.M.C. – “Down with the King”
When it comes to the Soul Brother #1 hits, this is a classic Hip-Hop track that he considers a favorite!
This 1993 smash-hit was Run D.M.C.’s second-biggest pop crossover record after “Walk This Way.”
What also made the record a cult classic for the Hip-Hop genre is the fact that Pete Rock recreated the Kings from Queens in the style of hardcore 90s East Coast street rap. He also flipped “Where Do I Go” from Hair (this time the original, not a cover) and editing in parts from classic Run-D.M.C. tunes like “Run’s House” and “Sucker MCs.”
Nas – “The World Is Yours”
“The World Is Yours” will go down in history as Illmatic’s finest single released in 1994.
Rock displayed even more beauty through the five-minute mark of Ahmed Jamal’s “I Love Music” rock showed even more beauty. “The World Is Yours” is regarded by many as the ideal example of producer/artist collaboration. Nas was able to ride the beat and express his Queensbridge viewpoint easily.
Heavy D – “Blue Funk”
On this Heavy D single, Lou Donaldson’s iconic instrumental “Pot Belly” provides the jazzy pulse and background, with a heavy (pun intended) dose of James Brown: especially “Popcorn with A Feeling” and “Funky President.”
When discussing why this single is one of his favorite hits, the 51-year-old legend stated, “Heavy went the street route on that album [Blue Funk]. For him to switch from one mode to another displays talent. That’s one of the things he was, very talented.”
“Carmel City” – Pete Rock & CL Smooth
The foundation for this, one of Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s most melodically beautiful compositions on their superb second album, is Milt Jackson’s “Enchanted Lady.” Pete Rock’s ear for jazz and melody is on full display here.
AZ – “Rather Unique”
Pete blessed AZ with this 1995 masterpiece!
He sampled Les McCann’s “Anticipation” this time, creating a soundscape for the New York emcee to lay down his brutal verbal assault.
Pete Rock & CL Smooth – “Take You There”
In terms of sampling, part of Hip Hop’s brilliance is reviving niche tracks that never entirely made it to the mainstream.
Keni Burke’s “Risin to the Top” is an excellent example. That catchy melody and bass rhythm had been exploited by everyone from Mary J. Blige to The Notorious B.I.G. to The Mary Jane Girls, but Rock made it his own by allowing CL Smooth to fire witty verses.
Public Enemy – “Shut Em’ Down (Remix)”
The original 1991 Public Enemy track was rowdy and unruly.
What makes the remix unique is that Pete could make the remix soulful without sacrificing the mood of the original version of the track.
This track proves that Pete is one of the finest producers of all time because of his attention to detail and feeling!
Tell us down below which Pete Rock songs are on your favorite playlist? And watch all-new episode of Unsung this Sunday at 9P/8C!