Pete Rock’s Rhymes & Beats Faked No Jax Alongside His 1996 I.n.I. Side Project (Video)
After releasing the sophomore Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth album, 1994’s The Main Ingredient, the mighty P.R. went to work expanding his platform. Just as Gang Starr had introduced Jeru The Damaja and Group Home, and D.I.T.C. was delivering Big L and O.C., one of Hip-Hop’s other highly-esteemed producers wanted to build a cabinet of acts.
At the time (circa 1995-1996), signed to Elektra Records, Pete was able to bring in I.n.I., which consisted of his blood brother Grap Luva, Rob-O, Ras G, Marco Polo (not to be confused with the 2000s-era Canadian-born producer), Jolomite, and DJ Boodakhan. The major label that was home to Busta Rhymes, Brand Nubian, and other artists that had risen through the ranks of the 1980s to 1990s transition, just as Pete and C.L. Beyond Rob-O’s two verses on Main Ingredient, and some Grap background vocals, the Mount Vernon, New York collective was relatively unknown by the mid-1990s. But believing in breaking acts at a really exciting time for Hip-Hop, I.n.I. pushed onward with an LP to be called Center Of Attention.
Sessions pushed on, and I.n.I. shot a video, for the Pete Rock-featuring track “Fakin’ Jax.” The record was a cooled-out Chocolate Boy Wonder arrangement, with a Mobb Deep vocal chorus lifted from “Give Up The Goods.” However, as the top-ranking producer was getting placements and remix work across the country, this was an opportunity for him to flex the gift of gab. Pete kicks the track off with a verse, grabbing attention as a double-threat. This may be one of the few places in history were Pete seems to want to outshine his beat. This happens before he turns things over to Rob and Grap. The video—only available by rip—is very straightforward, and of the day. No color, New York street scenes, and studio closeups:
Pay attention and you’ll see and hear that Rob-O is especially nice. That’s just it, as Center Of Attention was shelved until the 2000s, when Pete’s latest home, BBE, opted to release the album at last. Sadly, by that point only Grap and Rob remained active in Hip-Hop, and not as the once brought ’90s Hip-Hop unit.
Elektra Records certainly created a loss for Hip-Hop Heads, and some young talent from money earnin’-Mount Vernon that would have sounded great beside Stakes Is High, Beats Rhymes & Life, and other ’96 gems.
#BonusBeat: Grap Luva is nice on the boards too, check his latest Bandcamp release: