If you’ve been wondering where your favorite producer has been hiding, he’s right here! Pete Rock has been one of Hip-Hop’s most revered musicians since the early ’90s. His melodic beats layered with thick basslines and distinct horns along with once partner CL Smooth was a breath of fresh air to consumers who were being smothered by more aggressive forms of music.While the two parted ways musically, Pete forged on producing countless records and remixed for artist like 50 Cent, Brandy, Red Man, and Ghostface Killah. In addition to lacing other artist’s albums, Rock also released a string of solo albums that incorporated some of Hip-Hop’s most elite lyricists while flexing his own rhyming abilities.The once proclaimed Chocolate Boy Wonder is back, now stamping himself with the title of his new release, New York’s Finest. His latest full length effort, set for release on February 26th will, in Pete’s words, provide some “balance” in an industry that seems to have forgotten how great music should be done. Pete took time out with AllHipHop.com to discuss everything from his take on today’s music, to which Southern artists he would love to work with.AllHipHop.com: What’s going on with you?Pete Rock: Ain’t nothing, just working.AllHipHop.com: Let’s get into it then. Tell me about your new project coming out.Pete Rock: New York’s Finest. I got my man Royal Flush on there, Red Man, my man LB, he’s a new artist coming out of Nyack, New York. I got Chip-Fu on there, Renee Nuefville from Zhane on there, Jim Jones and Max B, Styles P. and Sheek Louch, Little Brother, my man Papoose, and I rhymed on a couple of joints.AllHipHop.com: You have a wide variety of artists that participated. You have like a Red Man to Jim Jones. How do you go about selecting who you want to work with?Pete Rock: Some are from past relationships, and some are just people wanting to work with me out of respect and vice versa. I felt like [Jim Jones] was the new cat that everybody loved, all the young generation, and I wanted to see what me and him could do together. I think it came out pretty dope. Actually we worked together before for his album Diary of a Summer and I did a song called “G’s Up” and we manifested “We Roll” from that.AllHipHop.com: I listened to a few songs from it and I thought it was interesting how you have different forms of music on there. Why did you decided to do it like that instead of straight Hip-Hop?Pete Rock: Basically I just wanted to do different things and show people I still got versatility and good beats, and s**t that can make somewhat of a difference in the game. I’m not here to say I’m saving the world but just to put some type of balance back in Hip-Hop along with a lot of other people. I can’t do it by myself, but the way I make music, I try to make it as strong as possible.AllHipHop.com: Speaking of versatility in the game, what’s your impression of the game right now?Pete Rock: My impression of the game is basically just the young cats are doing things. Some are good, some could be better and tweeked a little. You have a mixture of the South now. A lot of Southern music is being played, not only in New York but all over the world, which is a good thing. But a lot animosity going back and forth with the South and New York. I’m just all for making music together with people. AllHipHop.com: Would you ever work with an artist from the South?Pete Rock: Hell yeah, Lil Wayne, I want to f**k with him. God bless T.I. gets out of his situation, I want to work with him too. He is a clever artist. Outkast, I love them cats. I’m just a music lover and an appreciator of good music.AllHipHop.com: You started when there was always diversity, but do you think it’s kind of shifted a little? The labels don’t seem to be pushing the diversity anymore.Pete Rock: Well when you say labels, you mean the major labels? Yeah they definitely already have high expectations. You have to meet the expectations, which are really high. I mean If you have certain acts on a major label and they want Hip-Hop, they get at me for certain beats. I did a song for Keyshia Cole’s album and when Ghostface was on Def Jam and Red Man was on Def Jam. But to me [it would be better if] the A & Rs and some of the people that really knew had more knowledge of the music and were working in these offices. It’s a new generation working in the offices. Some of them you wonder if they have a history or Hip-Hop music or are they just in this for the ride. So, to me it’s funny and it puzzles me because a lot of music coming from these major labels could be much better.AllHipHop.com: Do you think the big companies being involved had anything to do with that? Because back in the day going Gold was excellent.Pete Rock: You got to go triple platinum to be a superstar and for everyone to notice you. But how long will that last if you can’t continue to give them good music. To me real music is the key because what’s done from the heart and soul is so important. You can tell in the music and you can hear it. When other people hear it and their soul lights up and get a little feeling when they hear a beat that they like, that’s power man. It’s like people need to understand that a lot of the s**t on the radio don’t stick to you. Ten years from now that s**t wont be a classic like Reminisce ( They Reminisce Over You), or anything that’s done in the Golden Era. That record “Reminisce” is important because it’s like funerals, it’s family based, it’s everything involved. I heard that record on boats, and weddings, funerals, not only funerals but you could just be reminiscing about someone you haven’t seen in a while or about the way things used to be.AllHipHop.com: When you do an album, what are your aspirations sales wise?Pete Rock: Sales are important, but I don’t have high expectations, unless I’m in a good situation and I know I have the proper backing. Today, it’s just being intrigued by the new artist I hear and not even thinking about the bulls**t, headache s**t like that. S**t like that is like when I got to concentrate on making hit records, I’m doing it all. I got to make sure that I concentrate on making dope s**t.AllHipHop.com: This is your first album in a long time, what do you do in your down time?Pete Rock: You hear my family upstairs? Do you hear my son up there making all that noise? ( laughs) That’s what I’m here doing, being a family man.AllHipHop.com: Is he into the beats now too?Pete Rock: Yeah he’s definitely into the beats now. He bobs his head all day when I pick him up from the baby sitter. I teach him a little something. Just yesterday I brought him with me to the record store for the first time. He’s two years old so he was really intrigued by what he saw there. He was looking all around with his eyes wide open. It was really cool.AllHipHop.com: I have to ask you this. I know it’s been beat down a bunch of times in interviews, but why do you think that people still are attached to you and C.L. Smooth working together?Pete Rock: People don’t know how to let it go man. They got adapted to something that they really liked and when they get disappointed it’s hard for them to understand why things like this happen. Then it seemed like when it happened with us it was a domino effect. Before us it was EPMD. That was like devastation for people. Then everybody started breaking up. A Tribe Called Quest, Nice & Smooth, GangStarr now, it was a domino effect.AllHipHop.com: Do you think it’s more creative or business stuff that splits them up?Pete Rock: Nah, it’s more of a ego thing. Then of course money plays a bad part in it too. If people tell you different they are lying because money definitely play a part in it. That comes with the game. You’re always gonna deal with some type of negativity. AllHipHop.com: What advice would you give to the up and comers that are reading?Pete Rock: You know how many cats ask me that question? ( Laughs) It’s all good. I would just tell them to be passionate about what they do. You gotta love what you do, you gotta love music. You can’t just do it just to get paper. And get my album that comes out February 26th because it’s hot.