The Produce Section | 11 of Pete Rock's most legendary beats
Pete Rock dominated the ’90s with a succession of classic singles and timeless album cuts.
REVOLT TV presents “The Produce Section,” where we put the spotlight on the men and women behind the beats we love so much and their contributions to the culture as a whole. From profiling and interviewing the hottest producers of today to acknowledging the greatest producers of all-time and delving deep into their discographies, “The Produce Section” is the hub where beats, rhymes and life connect.
Producers have long been the backbone of rap music, providing emcees and rappers alike with the sonic backdrops over which they bare their souls and share their stories. Rap artists may get much of the fanfare and are front and center. However, without the producer toiling away behind the scenes, crafting the instrumentals; the lyrics would be reduced to spoken word and hip hop would be nonexistent as we know it.
In this edition of “The Produce Section,” we cover legendary producer Pete Rock, who dominated the ’90s with a succession of classic singles and timeless album cuts. A native of Mt. Vernon, Rock served as the production arm of Pete Rock and CL Smooth, crafting records that would catapult the duo to the forefront of the rap game. In addition to producing hits for himself and CL, Rock was one of the more in-demand boardsmen of his era with the likes of Public Enemy, Nas, Redman, Heavy D, AZ, Rakim and more seeking out his talent. And even with three decades under his belt, Rock continues to be a force to be reckoned in 2019, making him one of the most prolific producers in rap history.
In our latest installment of “The Produce Section,” we celebrate 11 of the producer’s most iconic beats that define his excellence behind the boards.
1. “Shut ‘Em Down”
One of the first beats to put Pete Rock on the incline as a rap producer was his remix to Public Enemy’s 1991 single “Shut ‘Em Down,” which showcased his knack for crafting jazzy compositions. Taking horns from “Never My Love” by Tom Scott and The California Dreamers; and drums from “Long Red” by ’70s rock band Mountain; Rock scores one of the most pivotal remixes of all-time.
For what may be the most definitive production of his career, Rock takes the opening riff from “When She Made Me Promise” by The Beginning of the End to set the stage for this iconic single from Mecca and the Soul Brother. Built around horns and other wrinkles from Tom Scott and The California Dreamers’ 1967 release “Today,” this backdrop would stamp Rock as an elite rap composer and remains his signature beat more than 25 years later.
3. “Straighten It Out”
Drawing from various oldies, including Ernie Hines’ “Our Generation,” “Chocolate Buttermilk” by Kool & the Gang, and “Bootleggin’” by Simtec & Wylie; Rock drops the hammer with this hearty selection. Included on Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s acclaimed debut, Mecca and the Soul Brother, the beat is one of the illest of 1992 and an early highlight in the producer’s discography.
4. “Let It All Hang Out”
Rock took his game to another level in 1992, blessing A.D.O.R. with this raucous horn-heavy offering. Utilizing a sample of The Gerald Wilson Orchestra’s 1968 cut “California Soul,” Rock revamps the riff by pairing it with crashing percussion. This results in one of his more awe-worthy instrumentals of his run during the early ’90s.
5. “Down With The King”
In 1993, Rock helped revive life back into Run-D.M.C.’s career with his production on the title track from the group’s sixth studio album. Borrowing elements from James Rado, Gerome Ragni and Galt MacDermot’s “Where Do I Go?” Rock flips the sample into a rollicking slapper that helped bring the legendary Queens trio from the brink of obscurity.
6. “One In A Million”
Rock loots Brother Jack McDuff’s “Electric Surfboard” and The J.B.’s’ “Pass the Peas” for this snazzy composition from the Poetic Justice Soundtrack. Reinforcing the track with sturdy kicks and snares, the Mt. Vernon native creates a lively backdrop for CL Smooth to deliver his slick musings on.
7. “The World Is Yours”
As a producer, landing a credit on Nas’ debut album, Illmatic, was a major bragging right because as it solidified you as one of the premier boardsmen in the game. So, it was only right that Rock locked in with Nas for this number, which has proved to be one of the more popular and acclaimed jams from the album. Lifting piano keys and other elements from “I Love Music” by Ahmad Jamal Trio, as well as drums from “Dance Girl” by The Rimshots, Rock comprises the various moving parts into one of the quintessential jams in hip hop history.
8. “The Bitch In Yoo”
When Common was at odds with Ice Cube due to the latter’s umbrage with the Chicagoan’s 1994 single “I Used to Love H.E.R.,” he called Rock to help him set the record straight with this classic diss track. Lifting distinctive keys from Julie Driscoll, and Brian Auger and the Trinity “Light My Fire,” The Soul Brother incorporates samples Mobb Deep’s “Eye for a Eye (Your Beef Is Mines)” and dialogue from “The Education of Sonny Carson.”
9. “Tha Game”
The opening riff of Henry Mancini’s Theme From “The Girl From Petrovka” serves as the core of this instrumental from the first installment of Rock’s Soul Survivor series. Looping the sample and pairing it with drums, Rock puts forth an epic soundscape that Raekwon, Prodigy and Ghostface Killah trade bars on.
10. “Industry Shakedown”
One of Rock’s most unsung productions is this collaboration with rhyme pugilist Freddie Foxx, which finds the veteran spitter shaking down the entirety of the rap industry. Incorporating jittery percussion, record scratches and more, Rock keeps it straight-forward with this sample-free salvo.
11. “We Roll”
In 2008, Rock locked in with Harlem reps Jim Jones and Max B for this collaboration from the beatsmith’s NY’s Finest project. Reworking a sample of Kool & the Gang’s “You Don’t Have to Change,” the tenured maestro bridged the gap between generations with this vintage soundscape.
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