Pete Rock

Pete Rock

Infobox musical artist
Name = Pete Rock

Img_capt = Pete Rock, October 2007
Img_size =
Landscape = Pete Rock, October 2007
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Peter Phillips
Alias = Soul Brother #1
The Chocolate Boy Wonder
Born = birth date and age|1970|6|21|
Died =
Origin = Mount Vernon, New York,
United States
Instrument = Turntable, sampler, Keyboard
Genre = Hip hop, East Coast hip hop
Occupation = Rapper, music producer, disc jockey
Years_active = 1987 – present
Label = Elektra Records
Loud/RCA/BMG Records
Nature Sounds/Caroline/Virgin/EMI Records
Associated_acts = CL Smooth
Marley Marl
Heavy D
The UN

Pete Rock (born Peter Phillips, June 21 1970 [ [ Pete Rock And Cl Smooth Biography ] ] in Bronx, New York) is an American DJ, record producer, and emcee of Jamaican descent. He rose to prominence in the early '90s as one half of the critically acclaimed group Pete Rock & CL Smooth. After the duo went their separate ways, Rock continued with a [ 2008 [ Pete Rock Enlisted As "NY's Finest"] Retrieved January 31, 2008] solo career that has garnered him worldwide respect, if little in the way of mainstream success. Rock played a major role in the merging of elements from jazz into hip hop music, along with Stetsasonic, A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots and Gang Starr. Considered one of the greatest hip hop producers of all time [ [ Top 50 Hip-Hop Producers ] ] [ [ Top 5 best hip-hop producers and WHY [supertalk archive - superfuture :: supertalk ] ] [ [ Top 50 Greatest Producers In Hip Hop and Rap ] ] , he is often mentioned alongside DJ Premier, RZA and J Dilla, as one of the mainstays of 1990s East Coast hip hop production. Pete Rock is also the older brother and younger cousin, respectively, of rappers Grap Luva and Heavy D.


Early life

The third of seven children, Pete Rock was born in the borough of Bronx, New York. His family moved to Mount Vernon, NY when he was 7 years old. He attended High School in Mount Vernon, where he would meet his future recording partner CL Smooth. According to Rock, his Jamaican father was also a part time DJ, who had an impressive record collection. Rock would often accompany his father to a cricket club called Wembley in the Bronx, and watch as he spun records for the people present. [ Wax Poetic interview - Pete Rock - ] ]

His first job was as a paperboy, in his neighborhood.

Early career

His first major exposure to the hip-hop audience was in 1987 with Marley Marl, as a DJ on New York's WBLS radio show "In Control With Marley Marl." The 17-year-old Phillips was recognized by the listening audience as the man "puttin' in work", as he would use double copies of each record to cut up every song he played, when most New York DJs would only use double copies on every 3rd or 4th song. Propelled by the growth of his popularity, he began producing in the early 1990s. In 1991 he joined with CL Smooth to released the EP "All Souled Out".

The following year saw "Mecca and the Soul Brother", the first of two full length albums, released to critical acclaim and hailed as a classic by many. During this period, Pete Rock began to produce songs for other acts such as "Down With the King" for Run-DMC, and "The World Is Yours" for Nas, as well remixing singles for Jeru The Damaja ("You Can't Stop The Prophet"), Public Enemy ("Shut 'em Down"), and The Notorious B.I.G. ("Juicy" - the original of which was allegedly based on Rock's own demo). Pete and CL followed up "Mecca" in 1994 with "The Main Ingredient". Like its predecessor, "The Main Ingredient" also received wide critical acclaim, however soon after the albums release the duo went their separate ways, with Rock focusing on production work for other artists.

In 1995, he formed the group INI, with Grap Luva, and Rob-O and released the classic 12" "Fakin' Jax". The trio recorded an album, "Center Of Attention", which was heavily bootlegged and remained unreleased until 2003, when BBE Records picked it up for distribution. The release of this album was coupled with another mid-90s Pete Rock-produced album, DeDa's "The Original Baby Pa".

olo career

While working as a DJ with Marley Marl on Hot 97's Future Flavas show, Rock was able to forge a relationship with Loud Records, allowing him to release his solo album "Soul Survivor" in the summer of 1998. After being dropped from the Loud imprint, Rock signed with Rapster/BBE under his own label Soul Brother Recordings. He has since continued to release solo albums, including "PeteStrumentals" in 2001 and 2004's "Soul Survivor II". In that same year he also produced the bulk of Edo G's "My Own Worst Enemy", as well as a track for the all-girl rap group Northern State.

Recently, Pete Rock has returned to greater visibility, mainly through a closer relationship with the Wu-Tang Clan. Their collaborations began with "Soul Survivor", which featured Inspectah Deck, Method Man, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon on various tracks, and continued on its follow-up, which featured both GZA and RZA. He also has produced three tracks on Ghostface's release "Fishscale" and Nature Sounds labelmate Masta Killa's second album, "Made in Brooklyn".

Pete Rock has cultivated a relationship with Brooklyn, NY based Nature Sounds Records. He recorded the song "The PJs", which features Raekwon and Masta Killa, released on the Nature Sounds compilation "Natural Selection". He released an album entitled "NY's Finest" in February 2008, featuring Raekwon, Masta Killa, D-Block, Redman, Papoose, Slum Village and Jim Jones, among others, also on Nature Sounds. The lead single from the album is entitled "914" and features rappers Sheek Louch and Styles P. He is scheduled to appear on albums by Bishop Lamont, Cannibal Ox, Termanology, Freddie Foxxx, Royal Flush, Verbal Threat, LL Cool J, JoJo Pellegrino, La The Darkman, Cormega, R.A. The Rugged Man, and others. He is also working with DJ/Rapper Doo Wop under the name Tango & Cash (taken from the film of the same name).



Through the years, Rock has helped to jumpstart the careers of several artists. His first project outside of Pete Rock & CL Smooth was the hardcore duo YG'z, who released an EP called "Street Nigga" in 1993, with 4 out of the 6 tracks produced by Rock, however they were quickly dropped from their deal with Reprise Records.

His next venture, INI, was a group featuring Rock, his younger brother Grap Luva, Rass and rapper Rob-O. They released a single, "Fakin' Jax", through Elektra Records in 1995, before their debut album, "", was shelved by the label. The other two members continue to record solo material, albeit only sporadically. In an interview Rock elaborated on the situation:

Another mid-1990s artist, DeDa, also met the same fate with his album "The Original Baby Pa", although both this and INI's album were eventually released as a double album package in 2003. Other associated artists include Meccalicious, who recorded a few songs under Pete Rock's guidance (sometime around 1997), before disappearing from the music scene altogether.

Rock has had some success, however, overseeing and jumpstarting the career of hardcore underground favorites The UN; a group featuring 4 MCs, including former Flipmode Squad member Rock Marciano. Rock premiered the group on the single "Nothin' Lesser" from his "PeteStrumentals" album, and they went on to release the fairly successful album, "UN Or U Out", in July 2004, featuring production by Rock, Large Professor, and several others.

Relationship with CL Smooth

Since their split in 1995, Pete Rock's relationship with CL Smooth has been highly unpredictable. Although the pair briefly united for the reflective "Da Two" from Rock's "Soul Survivor" album in 1998, they avoided entertaining requests for a reunion album until 2001, when they once again teamed up for "Back on Da Block" from Rock's "PeteStrumentals".

In their interviews during this period, it appeared as though a new album was underway. As Rock would explain:

The pair went on a short international tour culminating in their well-received show at London's Jazz Cafe, however, soon after this they declined to comment any further on the new album, which never materialized (although Smooth did make three separate appearances on "Soul Survivor II"). Eventually Smooth would confirm rumors of a rift in an interview with, [] in which he appeared angry and frustrated with his former partner, saying "I didn’t ask him to be a superhero" and "I’m not the problem." In an interview taken in December 2006, Rock [ ruled out any further collaborations with Smooth] but stated that he holds no grudges against his former partner.


Production style

Pete Rock builds his beats from samples, the majority of which are taken from obscure R&B, funk, and jazz records. Early on in his career he would also sample drum breaks such as Black Heat's "Zimba Ku" for Heavy D & The Boyz's "Letter To The Future". Pete Rock heavily used the E-MU SP1200 as well as the AKAI [S950] —he's currently moved onto using the MPC—for his productions.Pete Rock tends to use the samples as palettes for his beats, chopping (cutting the sample into smaller parts), filtering (altering the frequencies of the sample), and layering several samples, often within the same song.

While this technique was applied long before Rock (on De La Soul's "Three Feet High and Rising" or the work of The Bomb Squad for example), Rock's work is distinctive for the way in which he uses samples to achieve a hazy, droning effect. He is also noted for his resonant basslines, horn samples, and gritty sounding drums. His beats will sometimes sound as though they were being played from an old vinyl record. Much of this has to do with the fact that he samples many of his sounds straight off vinyl records, [ as he mentions in this interview] .

Another trait of his, more so in the earlier part of his career, is the way he uses horn samples to supplement his grooves. With perhaps the most famous example being "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)" (on which he uses a horn sample from Tom Scott's "Today"), Rock has also used horns on several other productions such as "Straighten It Out", Public Enemy's "Shut 'Em Down", Rah Digga's "What They Call Me", and A.D.O.R.'s "Let It All Hang Out".

Along with Gang Starr, The Roots and A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock played a large role in the fusing of jazz and funk music into Hip hop. The aforementioned "Reminisce..." withstanding, Rock used many jazz samples on his album "Mecca and The Soul Brother", such as Cannonball Adderley's "Country Preacher", for the song "Return of the Mecca", or "Capricorn" for the song "In The House" from "The Main Ingredient".

Pete Rock's heavy use of intro and outro beats has also been widely influential. To introduce feature songs, he often plays a short instrumental excerpt, completely different from the rest of the song. Aside from their role as transitions, these are widely regarded as a way of displaying his large collection and as a challenge to other hip-hop producers to identify the records that the breaks come from. [Making Beats: The Art of Sample-Based Hip Hop. p. 57 (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 0-8195-6696-9)] "Mecca & the Soul Brother" and "The Main Ingredient" use intro/outro beats on nearly every track to great effect, and the tradition continues to the present on Rock's recent releases.


"Another Pete Rock remix" is Pete's trademark term, heard on countless singles which he has remixed. Claims to have produced the original beat for The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Juicy", and that it was recreated by P. Diddy and Poke (of Tone & Poke fame), without consent. However, he was invited to produce the remix, which utilizes the same sample as the original - Mtume's "Juicyfruit".

Although he received no official producer credit, he made the original demo beat for A Tribe Called Quest's "Jazz (We've Got)", which was recreated by Q-Tip.

He remixed Public Enemy's "Shut 'em Down" and "Nighttrain", in the same day, starting at 12pm and finishing at 12am.

Claims to have done several high profile remixes which remain unreleased including one of Madonna's "Secret".

Up until 2003, created all of his productions on the E-mu SP1200, thereafter using the AKAI MPC2000XL.

Pete has a collection of about 90,000 records and digs for records at least once a week. [ [ Wax Poetic interview - Pete Rock -] ]


Pete Rock has had a considerable impact on a number of producers who have emerged since the late 90s. Many critics have compared newcomers to him, sometimes favorably. Perhaps, most notable among these comparisons are the late Detroit producer J Dilla, and North Carolina's 9th Wonder, both of whom have worked with Rock during their careers. Many of the comparisons stem from the fact that these producers create the bulk of their productions out of samples, as well as the warm, mellow, and exuberant undertones apparent in their work. Pete Rock himself has added validation to the comparisons with J Dilla by stating "he's the only producer in this game that was just as serious [as me] ." [ [ Interview with Pete Rock] ]

Other producers such as Kev Brown, and Kanye West, have also found themselves compared to Pete Rock, with the latter approvingly referring to himself as "the new version of Pete Rock" on Slum Village's "Selfish". Pete Rock has acknowledged his relevance to these artists, releasing an instrumental record with 9th Wonder ("Class Is in Session"), and recording his own remix of West's "Heard 'Em Say". Rock himself has named his main musical influences as being his close friend Marley Marl and soul legend James Brown.


*"Soul Survivor" (1998)
*"PeteStrumentals" (2001)
*"" (2003)
*"Soul Survivor II" (2004)
*"" (2005)
*"NY's Finest" (2008)


External links

* [ Interview with Pete Rock]
* [ Pete Rock] at
* [ Pete Rock] at
* [ Pete Rock Interview - February 2008]
* [ Pete Rock Interview Part 1]
* [ Pete Rock Interview Part 2]
* [ Riot Sound, Hip-Hop, Rap & Urban Culture - Pete Rock Interview]

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