Ambrosia For Heads Presents: G.O.A.T. Producers – The Pete Rock Edition (Playlist)
Ambrosia For Heads’ G.O.A.T. Producers series takes in-depth looks at the production discographies of some of Hip-Hop and R&B’s greatest of all-time producers. As part of an exclusive partnership with Pandora, each installment explores the hits, the deep cuts, the rarities, the remixes and more. This edition showcases the production catalog of the legendary Pete Rock.
To be called “Soul Brother #1,” one has to earn it. Since 1989, Pete Rock has done just that. By virtue of producing his cousin (Heavy D) and then his own partner (C.L. Smooth), Peter Phillips seamlessly cross-faded from radio to production, with some of music’s hardest drums and smoothest samples. Deliberately, Pete connected some of the most lyrically-innovative Hip-Hop ever made with sounds of the 1960s and early ’70s. Like Hip-Hop’s pioneering DJs, the Mount Vernon, New Yorker possesses an otherworldly knowledge of records. In turn, songs like his group’s own “They Reminisce Over You” and “Escape” as well as Nas’ “The World Is Yours” pack a portal to a deep musicality in Hip-Hop.
The “Chocolate Boy Wonder” does not just provide mellow moods though. His beats have become the songs that have served as elegies, battle cries, and confident comeback calls. Pete has also found tremendous success with the remix. In the era of the 12″ single, so many records found their way through Pete’s sonic reinterpretations. He took Public Enemy’s force and added a new rhythm to Chuck D’s booming delivery on the “Shut Em Down (Remix).” P.R. did the same for House Of Pain’s “Jump Around (Remix),” transporting the peppy smash hit in a pocket of percussive rhythm.
Not just an a la carte producer, Pete Rock has proven his greatness in full-length execution. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth’s cohesive Mecca & The Soul Brother LP is in the “classic” conversation. The duo’s catalog stands tall. Pete has adapted and taken on albums with Smif-n-Wessun, Smoke DZA, and Camp Lo (as 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s). He also was among the first top-tier producers to try a hand at instrumental albums. Two volumes of Petestrumentals needed no MC to make their way to eager listeners.
Nearing 30 years in, Pete Rock’s catalog reads as a who’s-who for Hip-Hop. “The Creator” has made noteworthy collaborations with legends such as Rakim and JAY-Z, as well as some of Rap’s most trustworthy voices in AZ , Ghostface Killah, and Redman & Method Man. Meanwhile, some of P.R.’s most beloved productions are stones in the sand for Hip-Hop’s underground, including his Center Of Attention album by InI, and standout independent moments with Bumpy Knuckles and Cormega.
Pete Rock has been one of Hip-Hop’s busiest figures for the longest period of time. Thirty years after he appeared on WBLS radio assisting fellow DJ/production legend Marley Marl, the New Yorker has refused to compromise his quality, dial down his sound, chase any trend, or fall into any one box. Instead, Soul Brother #1 keeps knocking drums, timeless samples, and precise chops, sounding great in three different decades.