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Take Five: Pete Rock

Pete Rock Red Bulletin October 2011 Red Bulletin Magazine

With rhyming partner C.L. Smooth, Pete Rock, now 41, burst from the Bronx during rap’s golden era in the early ’90s. His sophisticated soul and jazz samples shed new light on the hard rhymes of Nas and Notorious B.I.G., while countless underground heroes like Talib Kweli and the late J Dilla also benefited from the man they call “Soul Brother No. 1.”

Recent credits on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s new album, “Watch The Throne,” and a collaboration with the Smif-n-Wessun duo on “Monumental” show he’s still in demand. So here are a few of the beats that made Pete.

James Brown, “Papa Don’t Take No Mess”
I was four years old when I first heard this song, which is on the album “Hell.” My dad used to be a DJ, so before I even knew about hip-hop, I knew about James Brown. So I guess you could call him the soundtrack to my life -- period. James Brown gave DJs like Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa the tools to figure out, “Hey, what’ll happen if I just repeat this beat and have some guys chanting over it?” And there you have it: hip-hop.

Treacherous Three, “Body Rock”
My dad would play R&B, soul, and rap at a cricket club in the Bronx. The sport’s not big in America, but my father is Jamaican. So Jamaicans would gather at their cricket club and have a game of cricket. He would DJ Treacherous Three’s “Body Rock” and that had a big influence. As far as MCs are concerned, Kool Moe Dee was like the top dog at that time. Those infamous rap battles he used to have with Busy Bee were enormous to me when I was young.


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