Its been a minute since Hip-Hops O.G beat architect Pete Rock has blessed us with a full length piece of fresh material. NYs Finest (Nature Sounds) doesnt disappoint as it breaths in some much needed life into Rap. Rock combines no-nonsense, vintage East Coast production with a mixed bag of complimentary lyricists. The result is a Rock solid release that satisfies those heads in search of a trip down memory lane circa the early 90’s.
A funky Pete Intro utilizing vintage audio blurbs announces the show is about to start. Pete scratches up some numbers for a countdown effect as a sweeping bass line is the main ingredient on the beat. Heads that still bump his solo Soul Survivor know what this is.
The lead single We Roll is quarterbacked by Jim Jones and his former crooner in crime Max B. while PR plays clean up. Pete flips Summer Madness by Kool And The Gang and the result is a horn-infused throwback that allows the Diplomats Capo to flow confidently over breezy soul.
PJs featuring Wu Tangs Raekwon and Masta Killa is a track that we have already heard before on 2006s Nature Sounds compilation Natural Selection; however Rock does us all a favour by including it on this release. Rae and Killa flow flawlessly over this funk-inflected head nodder as they trade verses about life on the street. PR also brings back the Queens heavy hitter Royal Flush over an eerie flute driven track. A group of onlookers hit Flush with a barrage of questions regarding his whereabouts before he goes into it. He clears up any doubts with lines like: Let me talk to you suckers / Ya fake ass hustlers / Your bricks for seventeen, so your boss my customer.
While PR does a great job at tailoring a fitting sonic backdrop for his invited guests, the album does wane a tad with his solo efforts. While the thick guitar licks are sick on “Don’t Be Mad,” Pete lacks the punch in his rhymes to make the track worthwhile. Additionally the Reggae flavored “Ready Fe War” was intended to diversify the project’s sound, but serves nothing more as a bump in the road in a pretty much steady ride.
Things do finish strongly with the Papoose assisted album closer Comprehend. Pap sounds right at home over Rocks soulful keys and drum kicks as his staccato bars add the finishing touches to this certified New York heater. Pap shows love to one of the games best producers as he tips his hat to Rock lyrically: Say my name when you sneeze / Pap is a blessin/ Its an honor to be in this session / Pete Rock is a legend.
For Rap to continue evolving and progress as an art form, there is no doubt that the younger generation needs to be leading the charge. However, it is reassuring to know that O.Gs like Pete Rock are still here to steer the ship in the right direction and are given the love and respect they so rightfully deserve.
Pete Rock featuring Jim Jones and Max B.
Pete Rock featuring Redman and LD