Pete Rock: Petestrumentals

Pete Rock: Petestrumentals

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Pete Rock

Album: Petestrumentals
Label: BBE

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BBE might stand for Barely Breaking Even, but for its "Beat Generation" producer series, the London label has snagged some of the most respected names in hip-hop, including ?uestlove, 88Keys, and Marley Marl. Offering artists seemingly unprecedented artistic freedom, as well as a place to release old and unreleased material, the series gets off to a terrific start with Jay Dee's Welcome 2 Detroit. As a third of Slum Village, a fourth of the Soulquarians, and one of hip-hop's most sought-after producers and remixers, Jay Dee boasts one of the most distinctive sounds in hip-hop, a down-and-dirty brand of underground minimalism that draws heavily on the neck-snapping drums of idol Pete Rock. Minimalist almost to a fault, Jay Dee's work can seem sterile and monotonous, but Welcome 2 Detroit showcases him at his loosest and most experimental, staying true to his trademark style while experimenting with Latin rhythms, spacey jazz, and even sci-fi synthesizers. Jay Dee has often been criticized for his less-than-stellar rhymes, but while the rapping on Detroit won't make anyone forget KRS-One or Rakim, it possesses an appealing directness that recalls the early work of Black Moon. Jay Dee and his mostly unknown Motor City compatriots may not rap about much beyond their ghetto-fabulous lifestyles and the respect that should be afforded them, but his grimy, dynamic, unpredictable production work makes the stale subject matter wholly forgivable. Never wearing out its welcome, Welcome 2 Detroit sets a high standard for Jay Dee's Beat Generation peers. Pete Rock may be best known for his work with C.L. Smooth, but even before their partnership ended, he had developed a reputation as a producer of the highest order, thanks to his career-resuscitating work for Public Enemy and Run DMC. Petestrumentals collects a slew of instrumentals Rock recorded between 1990 and 1995, along with new tracks and two songs featuring an up-and-coming rap group called UN. UN's materialistic rhymes aren't anything special, but Pete Rock's production is, and Petestrumentals possesses the smooth, blissed-out complexity that has always characterized his best work. If Rock's post-C.L. Smooth success proved that he didn't need his rapping partner to be successful, Petestrumentals suggests that he doesn't even need an MC to make memorable, timeless music. Perfect chill-out fare, the album will primarily attract DJs and rappers eager to put Rock's skills to their own use. But it should also appeal to anyone interested in simply listening to a master at work.

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