Pete Rock is easily mentioned as a top tier hip hop producer. “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” is one of the most, if not the most nostalgic hip hop track of all time. It instantly catapulted Pete Rock into stardom. The iconic beatmaker has given us countless hits throughout his career, including “Don’t Curse” (Heavy D), Shut Em Down [Remix] (Public Enemy), “The World Is Yours” (Nas), “Jump Around [Remix]” (House of Pain), “Rather Unique” (AZ), “Down with the King” (Run-D.M.C.), and the list goes on. He maintains a strong presence with a fresh innovative and highly competitive sound that’s unparalleled. We had the extreme honor of conducting an interview with the legend. It was a fun, unfiltered, candid, and an informative conversation. Pete Rock shares his career, current state of hip hop, and maintaining longevity in this ever-changing hip hop climate.
You’re an iconic producer coined as many hip hop producers’ influence. Who are your musical influences?
It all starts with James Brown. From jazz to soul singers to musicians. It starts with James Brown.
What’s your favorite James Brown album?
He had so many great albums. Its crazy to pick just one. I think the ‘Hell’ album.
How old were you when you started producing and rapping? What hip hop album really caught your attention as a youth?
I was taught how to use the beat machine at 14. I started making stuff of my own at 16 or 17. I used to listen to Big Daddy Kane’s and Public Enemy’s first album. Those two albums I used to go back and forth listening to while trying to figure out who I am.
At what point in your career did you say, “I made it!”?
I think when “They Reminisce Over You” was being played on the radio. I felt like, “we here”.
How does it feel to be many people’s favorite producer?
It feels good to be where I am now. I worked extremely hard. Heavy D was actually responsible for getting me out there and helped start my career. That’s why I always say there is a big difference in this new generation. There’s a lot missing in the new generation. They act like never learn anything from artists who have been here before them. They’re very cocky. You can’t be cocky in the music business.
Where did you go when you first toured overseas? What was that experience like?
Japan was one of the first places I went to in the beginning of my career. Till this day, it’s one of my favorite places to visit.
What’s your favorite project to date? The one that made you say, “I out did myself”?
I’m like that on everything I do. It’s hard to narrow it down. I’ll probably say Mecca and the Soul Brother.
How did it feel to go solo?
I felt cool about it. Unfortunately, It was a decision I had to make. I made it. It’s less headache when you don’t have to deal with someone who doesn’t have the same vision or same focus as you do.
What’s your creative process for producing tracks?
You really want to know that? Sometimes I’ll start with a rolled up L. Sometimes, I don’t smoke at all. I like to smoke after I make like 15 beats though and just listen to what I made.
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Not only are you a revered producer, you are one of the dopest lyrically. Which one do you like doing most?
I like the beats the best. There’s nothing wrong with rapping because it’s a part of what I do. I just love beats and the music I just adapted myself to that before rapping.
You keep a fresh innovative sound. One can find your production on a slew of the dopest albums. How do you maintain longevity in this ever-changing hip hop climate?
I keep my ear in tune to what’s happening. Even though I don’t like a lot of shit I hear, I have to do my homework.
Is the music competitive?
They ain’t doing nothing legendary or special. They’re just here for the moment.
Who are some fresh current artists you’re feeling right now?
Nobody. For real. I just listen to artists I been liking J.Cole, Kendrick Lamar, dudes from the 90s era. You know not that many new cats. Joey Badass, Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, Smoke DZA and Dave East. That school I just named right there, that’s the real new generation. They’re not the fake generation.
Lots of emerging artists like to use the term “legend” loosely when referring to themselves. What’s your thoughts on that?
There is a generation of young, real dudes making good music. Like I said, Kendrick would be in that category. Then you have these other artists not even making good music. They’re just talking about pills and drugs.
What do you think of the representation of hip hop in award outlets that are supposed to highlight the best repping the culture?
I mean. The award shows are different today. If we are going to have awards for hip hop, it needs to be classy. These MTV Award shows with people swinging from the ceiling naked, this is an award show? Not even the black ones are repping how they should.
Do you think people being awarded deserve the accolades?
Some people awarded deserve it, but only a handful, no offense.
Who would be featured on the ultimate project you could bring to fruition? Who would you collaborate with?
Some unknown dudes and Black Thought.
Much respect and gratitude to Pete Rock for granting this interview. I’m truly humbled and grateful to be able to build with such a legendary contributor to hip hop. Whether its soulful tracks or savage bars, Pete Rock always dominates in all he does. He has created remarkable soundscapes for countless hip hop greats pioneers and emerging artists. His sound has inspired producers. His artistry is revered worldwide! His rich legacy is still flourishing and I can’t wait to see what else he has in store for the hip hop masses. Salute the rap god, super producer, and living legend Pete Rock. Your contributions are greatly appreciated.