(AllHipHop Features) With over a quarter century of experience in Hip Hop, Pete Rock is one of the most respected producers in the history of rap music. The legendary maestro has crafted classic tracks for Hip Hop heavyweights like Nas, Big L, Common, Kanye West, Jay Z, Rakim, Ghostface Killah, and his own group Pete Rock & CL Smooth.
The Bronx, New York native has now connected with his fellow BX brethren Camp Lo for the sequel to their 2011 mixtape 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s. Unlike the original, 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s Pt. II is a project of all original tracks produced solely by Pete Rock.
The 25-track opus pays tribute to the birthplace of Hip Hop by borrowing the title of Gary Weis' 1979 documentary about the Savage Nomads and the Savage Skulls gangs from the South Bronx. Besides verses from Camp Lo’s Sonny Cheeba and Geechi Suede, 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s Pt II features appearances by Talib Kweli, Mac Miller, Ab-Soul, M.O.P, and Uncle Murda.
AllHipHop.com spoke with Pete Rock to discuss 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s Pt II, reuniting with CL Smooth, other recent Hip Hop projects, and a lot more.
AllHipHop.com: This is your first official mixtape. Why did you decide to release 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s II as a free project and not as an official studio album?
Pete Rock: I feel like the real Hip Hop that people want to hear they’re not hearing it, so we decided to give it back to our community for free. You’re not hearing it on the radio, and when you do it’s only for one hour. That’s not enough for certain fans that listen for good music. So we decided to do it for free so people can get what they need in life.
There are 25 tracks on the project. Are there more records from those recording sessions that didn’t make it onto the mixtape?
Yeah, we got songs we didn’t throw on the mixtape. We didn’t want it to go over 77 minutes. We wanted to keep it under 74 minutes, and with 25 records we did it. Some records have a verse and a hook. Some records have two verses and a hook. Some have three verses. That’s how it stayed under the 74 minute mark.
Do you think those songs that didn’t make the tape will be put on another project?
They’ll definitely be on the next go round.
You guys dropped the song “Megan Good” with Mac Miller. Did you ever get a reaction from Meagan or anyone on her team?
Not yet, but hopefully it won’t be bad, because the song is about celebrating her and a lot of other people with the names beginning with [the letter] "m." The song was originally named “Lady Mrs,” and we threw Meagan Good in there for the title. Why not? We were celebrating Meagan Good.
You recently announced that you’re getting back together with CL Smooth to re-record Mecca and the Soul Brother with a live band. How far along are you in that process and when do you think the project will be released?
Not far yet, but we’re doing shows. We got a show coming up in Central Park in New York. It’s a free concert. I can’t wait to get started on that. That’s going to be dope to re-record Mecca and the Soul Brother with a live band. Big shout out to CL Smooth. Be looking forward to that next year.
Not too many Hip Hop artists record with a live band. What inspired that idea?
The idea came from us. We thought it would be a great idea to re-record that album. It was our first big debut album. It’s important to us, and we have a lot of stories that go with that album. I just thought that it would be a challenge to try and do these songs live with great musicians and the right kind of instrumentation.
There are quite a few New York based emcees that have gone back to using the Boom-Bap style of production. Why do you think that sound is starting to resurface in such a major way?
It’s needed. People need to hear something different after hearing the same thing over and over and over again. I think it’s a need for it to be mixed in with new stuff that creates a whole new sound. That could be beneficial for everyone.
What young artists that you hear now are exciting you musically?
Everyone. From Joey Bada$$ to A$AP Ferg, A$AP Rocky. I like Drake. I like AB-Soul. I like Kendrick Lamar. I like Schoolboy Q. You got a whole bunch of the young generation out there contributing to Hip Hop. I like that. Kanye West. People like that.
Speaking of Kanye. What did you think of Yeezus?
It’s different, but Kanye’s a talented producer. He’s going to go and challenge himself every time. Regardless of what people want out of him, he’s going to do him. I appreciate that in a person. But speaking from a fan I felt it was just a little left. Compared to Magna Carta [Holy Grail] where you can hear a couple of Boom-Bap beats on Jay Z’s new album. Nothing against Kanye. He just went a different direction. I respect it.
This has been a hot summer for Hip Hop. Are there any other projects that you enjoyed?
Wale’s album. J. Cole’s album. Nas’ album from last summer. So many good albums came out the past 8 or 9 months. I’m pretty excited. I’m a huge fan of all those people. To hear a new J. Cole and you're listening to his album and you hear heartbeats. That made me smile. Even with Wale and the stuff that I hear him doing. Wiz Khalifa and a bunch of other cats that I’m checking for. It’s love. The fact that they pay homage to that real sh*t just makes me feel better.
[ALSO READ: “Summer of Hip Hop” Makes History On Album Charts]
D.M.C. [of Run-D.M.C.] recently commented that he felt there is a lack of respect for Hip Hop's pioneers. Do you feel like the culture doesn’t show enough respect for the veterans?
There’s ignorance of course out there. There are people that don’t really pay homage to what we put down. I always did that. Before me it was Whodini, Run-D.M.C., The Fat Boys, Salt-n-Pepa, Heavy D & the Boyz, the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J. Run-D.M.C., they were the top dogs. They were number one in mixing rock music with soul and making it in a Hip Hop form. To me without that respect there is no future. People that paved the road for you, you got to pay the ultimate respect.
Who are your top five emcees dead or alive?
Nas, B.I.G., Jay Z, Kanye West, and Ab-Soul.
What about your top five Hip Hop producers dead or alive, excluding yourself?
J Dilla of course is my favorite. Kanye West again. My man Nottz, Kev Brown, and Alchemist. I like way more producers. You can’t just give me five. I have to say that’s the top five for me today. There’s DJ Premier that I’m a fan of, and we got an album we're doing together that’s coming out next year. So many other guys that make dope beats too. Jake One, he’s dope. There's so many other guys.
Your production discography contains classic songs. If you had to pick five quintessential Pete Rock tracks which ones would you choose?
Nas’ “The World Is Yours.” “They Reminisce Over You.” “Don’t’ Curse” [by] Heavy D and The Boyz. Remix wise I would have to say [Public Enemy’s] “Shut Em Down.” Another one I would have to say is Big L’s “Holdin’ It Down.”
You’ve been in the game for over 25 years. What would you say is the key to long-term success in the music business?
Passion in your heart, knowing what you're getting yourself into, preparing yourself for the best and the worst, and never quitting. Those are the elements you need to survive the music jungle. Cause it’s a jungle for real.
Pete Rock and Camp Lo's 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s Pt. II will be available for free download on datpiff.com on July 30th.
Check out the cover art and tracklist for80 Blocks From Tiffany’s II below.
2. Ladies and Gentlemen (introducing 80 Blocks) f/ Talib Kweli
3. Starlight Glitz
4. Clean Getaway f/ Uncle Murda
5. No Uniform f/ M.O.P. and Pete Rock
6. Lets Toast
7. Megan Good f/ Mac Miller
8. 80 Blocks Party
9. Don't Ya Just Love It f/ Ab-Soul
10. Y'all Not Ready
11. Rocking With The Best
12. You Never Seen A City Like (The Bronx)
13. Supa Fly Shit
14. 80 Block's From Tiffany's
17. No Hook f/ Pete Rock
18. Love Traps f/ Tyler Woods
19. Glitter and Gold
20. 99 Bottles
21. Dream Journey f/ Geechi Suede
22. 4 The OG's
23. Pot of Butta
24. Can I Get A ……