The name ‘Pete Rock’ holds a dear spot in the hearts of Hip-Hop fans. The legendary producer (sometimes rapper) is responsible for some of Hip-Hop’s most memorable songs like Nas’ The World is Yours, Method Man & Redman’s A-Yo, Run-DMC’s Down with the King, and Pete’s classic song with CL Smooth, They Reminisce Over You.
Pete’s latest endeavor finds him partnered up with rap duo Camp Lo for 80 Blocks from Tiffany’s II. The free mixtape is produced entirely by Pete Rock and features appearances by Mac Miller, Talib Kweli, Ab-Soul, Tyler Woods, Uncle Murda, and M.O.P.
Pete Rock spoke to usedview.com about the evolution of his production techniques, memories of his late cousin Heavy D, and his new mixtape with Camp Lo, 80 Blocks from Tiffany’s II.
SS: What made you decide to connect with Camp Lo for 80 Blocks from Tiffany’s II?
Pete Rock: Basically being a fan. I was a fan of them and when I bumped into them in the street we basically chit-chatted about the respect in the game that both of us have and decided to get together and do something.
SS: How is this project different from the first one?
Pete Rock: I produced it. Part one they took instrumentals of my beats and just rhymed over it. This one I actually got involved and did the whole thing.
SS: How’d the song ‘Megan Good’ come together?
Pete Rock: That’s between those guys. I just sent them a whole bunch of beats and they picked whatever beat they wanted to make whatever song. That was just one of the songs they made. It wasn’t something that I suggested to them.
SS: You’re known for chopping up Soul and Jazz records, how have the sampling laws affected the way you produce?
Pete Rock: You know how it goes; sampling is a part of Hip-Hop. Even the new guys today you hear samples in their beats. It really didn’t change much other than us having to come out of our pocket to pay for something. This mixtape we’re doing is a free one. We’re rhyming over certain beats and certain instrumentals we like and records that we grew up listening to. It didn’t change much in what I do. I still do it regardless because it’s just the raw sound of Hip-Hop. I’m also doing a live re-record of Mecca and the Soul Brother with a live band. That’s going to be one of the new projects that you’ll hear me doing.
SS: I know last year you reconnected with CL Smooth and did some shows. Did the live album come about from going back on the road with CL?
Pete Rock: We’ve been on the road. We do shows here and there. We’re in contact with each other and we don’t know what the future may hold but we know it’s something good.
SS: Have you ventured into using software or do you still use hardware to make beats?
Pete Rock: I’m using hardware. Drum machines, the MPC and the SP . I still use the new hardware like it was the old stuff from the 90’s. The way I make beats is still the same, just updated for today’s society.
SS: Let’s talk a little about your cousin, Heavy D. In my opinion he’s one of the most underrated emcees of all-time as a lyricist and a live performer. What was the one great thing about Heavy that you think may have been overlooked by fans?
Pete Rock: At the period of time he was out I don’t think the fans missed anything. I don’t think he was underrated at all. I thought he was a top notch performer. He would perform in front of 20,000-to-30,000 people on tour for years. I witnessed that. When he walked on stage and you heard those screams it was overwhelming. This guy is a huge star and he’s my cousin. I miss him dearly.
Heavy D was one of the first big men to not be ashamed of his weight. He was a handsome guy and a lady’s man. Ladies like cuddly people [laughs]. I have to admit my cousin is pretty cuddly. His talent speaks for itself and it sheds off on other people, like myself. He saw a lot going on in me musically and wanted to bring that out. Hev is responsible for taking me under his wing and showing me the ropes.
SS: Do you have a favorite joint that you produced for him?
Pete Rock: Of course! ‘Got Me Waiting’ and ‘Don’t Curse’. There are a few but ‘Got Me Waiting’ has to be number one because before Luther Vandross passed away I spoke to him on the phone and he told me he liked the way I did his music. That really, really blew me away.
SS: Wow. That’s incredible.
Pete Rock: Yeah.
SS: You’ve done joint albums with a lot of artists like Camp Lo, Smif-N-Wessun, and Edo G. Is the process different working on a joint album versus a solo record?
Pete Rock: Nah, it’s just all music. It depends on what my beats make people feel like. The beats have to make people feel like you want to be on it and have a story to tell. It’s the usual assignment. Nothing is too different working with two people instead of one.
SS: What’s the status of the DJ Premier/Pete Rock album?
Pete Rock: It’s in the works. I’m like 3-4 deep into it so far. I got a lot of projects on the table that I can’t wait to get started on.
SS: A couple of years ago 9th Wonder paid tribute to you and Premier down in North Carolina. That was special for me just to watch online, what did it mean to you?
Pete Rock: I’m always flattered when people pay homage, always. 9th Wonder is a good guy. He brought me and Premier out to Harvard to talk to kids about our process of how we make music and certain accolades it reached. I was really excited to do that so big shout to to 9th Wonder. It makes me feel good of course. It makes me feel like my work wasn’t done in vain, it inspires people and makes people feel good and want to be something positive.
SS: You mentioned you have some projects coming up, what’s coming up for Pete Rock?
Pete Rock: Of course on July 30th 80 Blocks from Tiffany’s with Camp Lo drops. It’s featuring Uncle Murda, Ab-Soul, M.O.P., Talib Kweli, Tyler Woods, and Mac Miller. Then I got the Mecca and the Soul Brother live album recorded over with a live band, I’m excited about that. A couple of other things on the table, Smoke DZA, the Pete Rock vs. Premier album comes out in 2014, and my new album comes out in 2014 as well.
Download: 80 Blocks from Tiffany’s Pt. II