On this week’s episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN were graced by the presence of legends Common and Pete Rock, two prominent figures in rap who truly need no introduction, but we’ll give them anyway.

With decades of proven experience under his belt, Common still stands as one of the most decorated and skillful rappers to come out of Chicago. Even when he’s off the mic, Common emerged as one of the most successful musicians to segway into acting, which streamlined his roots as a creative from the booth to the big screen. Speaking to that note, his trophy room includes Grammys, Academy Awards, Emmys and Golden Globe awards.

And of course, The Bronx’s own Pete Rock is deemed as one of the greatest producers of all time. He first gained popularity in the music industry alongside his work with CL Smooth in the 1990s. After they caught the masses' attention with tracks like “T.R.O.Y.” the rest was history. Over the last 30 years, Rock has made premiere beats for the likes of Big L, De La Soul, Nas, and plenty others with a high-level execution that can’t be rivaled.

Hip Hop fans will be pleased to know the two have been working with one another to create a joint album, which is slated to be released sooner than later. During this special conversation, they talk about how the project came to life and what to expect, as well as the bold moments in their careers. Nine takeaways from the conversation are below and the full episode can be watched here.

1. On the city-wide impact of the 1990s Chicago Bulls dynasty

While discussing the New York Knicks’ 2024 playoff run, Common recalled what the city of Chicago was like when the Bulls dynasty was in full effect during the 1990s. “When the Bulls was winning, it wasn’t no shootings, crime went down. It was a joy around the thing. And that’s something that basketball does, music does,” he began. “Cats wasn’t gang banging [because] they’d be at home watching. It didn’t matter where you was from, you were watching the Bulls and we all was just celebrating. And people was making money, whether you worked at the parking garages or the bars. It just lit the city up…”

2. On why they’re dropping a collab album

It was only right that at some point, Common and Pete Rock gave some exclusive insight on why they decided to combine their firepower and create a joint album. For Common, the idea was solidified during the celebration of Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary at Yankee Stadium. “I sat in the audience for five and half hours. I ain’t ever did that. I’m seeing Fat Joe, I’m seeing Mobb Deep, I’m seeing Lil’ Kim, Nas, Lauryn Hill, Snoop [Dogg], Ice Cube. And I was like, ‘Man, this artform is still alive. I love it.’ The joy that we felt. I was like, People still thirst for this feeling.” Pete Rock then jumped in to preview how he shaped the sound of the album. “We wanted the aura of the 90s, that’s it. And I’m a new Pete Rock. But you’ll hear some stuff that will give you memories of what I used to do,” he said.

3. On the making of Illmatic

Pete Rock was one of the revered producers who helped Nas craft one of the best debut albums of all time. Regarding why so many established beat-makers would gather to rally around a then 19-year-old newcomer, he said, “Give Large Professor his flowers for pulling us together for this. Large Professor is the one who contacted every one of us. He contacted me, Primo, [Q]-Tip. He’s the one that brought us all together.” Elsewhere, Common spoke about how important the album was to him and within the culture. “Illmatic changed the way I rap, changed the way so many people rap. It changed Hip Hop,” he added.

4. On “The World Is Yours”

Speaking of Illmatic, Pete Rock broke down the making of one of the album’s most popular cuts, “The World Is Yours.” “I had that beat already made and when he (Nas) came over...” he remembered before explaining how Nas whipped out a black and white composition book of rhymes that he started thumbing through as the beat played, “he had the hook and he was like, ‘I want you to sing it.’ I was looking at him like what, I ain’t no singer… But I had this voice in Hip Hop where I would play around with the ad-libs and be doing little stuff. And I tried it out. And they liked it.”

5. On the beef between Common and Drake

Drake has had his fair share of rap beef over the years and most fans remember when Common was the opposing force in one. Well, how did their beef begin? Common said, “We had messed with one of the same girls. The same story that you hear about it. Wars happen over women.”

Common went on to speak about crafting a direct diss track to Drake after shade was thrown on “Stay Schemin” and how advice from a fellow musician made him alter his approach. “Shoutout to No ID ‘cause I had all of these bars, and he was like, ‘Bro, you can’t go that hard. Just wait, ‘cause it might be another round… The younger generation don’t go that hard.’ When he told me that, I was like, ‘OK,’ so I took out a few lines.”

After some time passed, the beef was eventually crushed thanks to an interesting third party. “I eventually saw Drake face-to-face, and I was at a point where I was like, ‘What’s up?’ And we had little words and then his father was there, and he was like, ‘Y’all need to squash this.’ And I was like, man, this is an elder talking to me, this is this man’s father. Let me chill out. And then Drake was just like, ‘I ain’t on this’ and we just squashed it.”

6. On being superheroes

With an all-star lineup sitting at the table, the group spoke about what makes their positions as musicians special in society. “What all of us do is magic,” Pete Rock proclaimed. Common expounded, “I always think about how Hip Hop artists are superheroes in so many ways because think about this, you took your life and what we come from and gave it to people. And people wanna be like that. It affected their lives. That’s the creative working through you. And you just did what you were supposed to do.” He continued, “Think about how many people have been affected and you’re just giving them your aura in a song… That’s what’s so dope about Hip Hop. We don’t have the polish of pop and all that. Nobody has coached you on how to be you.”

7. On an unreleased remix of “The B**ch In You”

Before Drake stepped up to the bat, Common attempted to strike out Ice Cube in their beef back in the day with his diss song “The B**ch In You.” Apparently, there was a remix of the record that never got released. “The only time I went to Queensbridge, I went to meet up with Havoc…We did a remix and he was on the chorus,” Common explained. “He just was like, ‘Yo these n**gas dissing the West Coast, so you’re saying what we’re feeling too.’” Unfortunately, Common confirmed that the track is nowhere to be found these days: “I always wonder where that s**t is.”

8. On CL Smooth

Pete Rock and CL Smooth combined are one of the most storied duos in rap history. Over time, the energy of their relationship has shifted, but that didn’t stop the producer from giving his former collaborator his respect. “I’mma say that he’s the best talent that I’ve ever come across in my whole life. I mean, I've never heard rap like this. I’ve never heard a voice like this. We’ve shared great times together,” he said before explaining why they had a falling out. “Just like life, people have ups and downs. And sometimes, when we’re in the negative zone, we tend to go like this… It shouldn’t ever be like this. We should still be together, but some things that I can’t really tell the whole public. But certain things happened in a partnership that people won’t understand.” Remaining candid on his sentiments toward the situation, he added, “What hurts me the most is that we don’t celebrate our anniversaries for the records that we’ve made that touched people. That’s why I wish for healing for him. So, we can at least have grown men's conversations.”

9. On their Mount Rushmore of influences

Legends inspire legends, which led to Common and Pete Rock giving their top four influences of all time. Common began, “First I would start with Rakim… He was opening my mind up and I ain’t even know some of the stuff he was saying, but it was resonating with my soul.” Next, he stamped KRS-One. “I’m sitting here vegan but I ain’t even know what vegetarian was until KRS and them started talking about it. Rationalizing his following choice of Big Daddy Kane, he said, “I loved the similes that he would kick.” And the last person to make the cut was Nas. “Nas was the one who made me be like, ‘Oh this is the level I gotta rhyme at? He raised the bar.”

Pete Rock was certainly more tightlipped with his answer, but still provided his big four: “I’mma say James Brown, I’mma say Big Daddy Kane, I’mma say Marley Marl and Heavy D.”