Stream A Collection Of Previously Unreleased Pete Rock Beats From The 1990s (Audio)
Early samplers and drum machines often have their own distinct sound, which is largely due to the limitations of technology at the time. These constraints yielded the creativity and ingenuity from a generation of legendary Hip-Hop producers. The E-mu Systems SP-1200 and the Akai MPC-60 were the predominant samplers during the early 1990s. Both pieces of hardware produce a sonic flavor that seemingly cannot be replicated by any computer program.
Pete Rock is a well-known proponent of the SP-1200 and used the piece of equipment (and occasionally a Roland TR-909) to make all his beats until 2003, at which point he reportedly started using an Akai MPC 2000XL. As has been proven by releases like Lost & Found: Hip-Hop Underground Soul Classics, The Surviving Elements: From Soul Survivor II Sessions, and Lost Sessions (plus a recent Sway In The Morning interview), Rock always has a slew of unreleased tracks and cutting-room floor beats in his vault.
Some Hip-Hop Heads can never get enough of “The Chocolate Boy Wonder’s” signature production, so fans’ ears perked up when Pete announced he was dropping his fourth instrumental album, Return Of The SP1200, on vinyl for Record Store Day 2019 (April 13). And just shy of two weeks later, “The Soul Brother” has made the project available digitally.
All the beats on this LP are previously unreleased joints from between 1990-1998. Time machine cuts like Round “Midnight” and “Kool Jazz” sound like they could have been on Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth’s Mecca & The Soul Brother. All of Pete’s trademark elements are here: warm Jazz samples, echoing horns, and panning effects. The only new element about these beats is scratching by JayLib/The Beat Junkies’ J-Rocc.
While the music is the main reason to cop this new release, the vibrant cover by comic book artist Sanford Greene is eye-catching. Images of political turmoil fill the background as the Soul Survivor concentrates on his groove-box in the foreground. Interestingly, Greene and Rock have a couple of Marvel Comics connections.
Sanford is responsible for the publishers’ Hip-Hop Variant Cover of All-New Hawkeye #1 that tributes Mecca & The Soul Brother. Further, the illustrator handled art duties for 2016’s Power Man and Iron Fist series, while all the episodes of Luke Cage Season 2 were named after Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth songs.
Return Of The SP1200 is also available on vinyl and CD. Pete Rock is presently working on album with Brooklyn, New York’s Skyzoo.