Pete Rock is an O.G. from the Boogie Down Bronx whoisnâ€™t nearly as well known outside of hip hop circles as he deserves to be. An essential part of New Yorkâ€™s hip hop history, from the days of DJ Marley Marl, heâ€™s now releasing a new album, â€œNYâ€™s Finest.â€ But donâ€™t call it a comeback.
Rockâ€™s brilliant beats are still here, multi-layered sonics that are neither overwhelming (like Kanye West) nor simplistic (like Neptunes); unlike most producerâ€™s Rock is about creating true soundbeds: Music to be rhymed over.
And heâ€™s accompanied by some great modern NYers, making a record with incredible variety. Check out â€œThe Best Secret,â€ featuring Lords Of The Underground for humorous pass-the-mic oneupsmanship. Or something more street, thereâ€™s â€œQuestionsâ€ with Royal Flush (where the hell have they been, anyway?). Like old school Pete? Then â€œTil I Retireâ€ is for you, copping a Run DMC hook, a Mama-Said-Knock-You-Out theme, and minimalist beats. For grimy Wu style, thereâ€™s The P.J.s, with the Chef himself, Raekwon, and Masta Killa. Pete even dug the Fu-Schnickers out from under whatever rock theyâ€™ve been hiding under for a dancehall groove, â€œReady Fe War.â€
Rock may be best known as a producer (recently, he contributed to GFKâ€™s classic, â€œFishscale,â€ as well as Talibâ€™s â€œEar Drumâ€), but his verses are hot too. Accomanied by Rell on the hook, â€œThatâ€™s What Iâ€™m Talking Aboutâ€ is one of those old, crooney numbers. The single is “914” with Styles P and Sheek Louch, and itâ€™s a hot gangsta rap. I canâ€™t say enough about this album. You can also find DJ Green Lantern, Papoose, Jim Jones, Redman, Little Brother . . . An awesome release. And best of all: Itâ€™s indie, on the Nature Sounds label. Help him move some units.
Boot Camp Clik and Heltah Skeltah’s Rock has released a few advance singles from his mixtape, “Shell Shock.” I’m having trouble finding out where or when the full length will be released, but Rock’s pedigree is part of some of the greatest grimey underground rap groups in history, so it’ll be worth a listen. Plus, he’s hot off being released from jail on charges of . . . Attempted murder!