Pete Rock was raised in Mount Vernon, but his face belongs on Mount Rushmore. The Chocolate Boy Wonder perfected an art form, inspired millions, and soundtracked a generation. By contrast, Teddy Roosevelt seems like a chump.
This is the man who Dilla told, “I wanted to be like you.” Kanye once called himself the “new Pete Rock.” But the original Pete Rock remains permanently vital. The evidence bangs in his latest opus, Petestrumentals 2, the sequel to the 2001 classic that helped define the hip-hop instrumental record. It marks the legend’s first album on Mello Music Group, a fitting union between the author of the boom-bap blueprint and the label that’s expanded upon his legacy.
Describing Pete Rock’s productions do them little justice. They resonate in your gut, heart, and brain. The title of one of these beats says it all: “Makes Me Feel Like.” You fill in the blanks based on your personal experience and current mood.
Petestrumentals 2 conjures memories of BBQ cookouts and 70s Blaxploitation scores, rattling summer jeep cruises and blunted Jamaican vacations. There’s a gorgeous requiem to Dilla (“Dilla Bounce (R.I.P),” where the originator pays tribute to the prodigy. You see the full range of Rock’s gifts on display: the meticulously chopped horns, unquantized drums, and air raid sirens. It contains the emotion of a thousand eulogies.
No record can’t be resurrected. There’s no sub-genre or era that can’t be converted into Rock’s singular brand of soul. His music is the closest thing we’ll ever get to a time-traveling DeLorean, effortlessly shifting between past, present, and future.
For the last 20 years, hip-hop heads have argued over the best Pete Rock original productions and remixes. Is it “They Reminisce Over You” or the “Shut ‘Em Down Remix?” Do you prefer Soul Survivor or the first Petestrumentals, his work with INI or the UN? His catalogue can’t be compressed into a bio; you need a book.
This is the latest chapter—an even 20 slaps and rhythmic levitations. It’s Pete Rock at his best, accelerating and kicking cosmic slop, extending wishes, hope, love, gritty drums and eternal wonder.