Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pete Rock - NY's Finest - Nature Sounds (2008)

It’s been a minute since one of hip-hop’s O.G beat architects has blessed us with a full length of fresh material (his last release was 2004’s Soul Survivor II); and Rock’s latest release, NY’s Finest (out on hot Brooklyn indie label Nature Sounds); doesn’t disappoint in breathing some much needed life into the rap game. Rock keeps the momentum flowing from his last release, by combining no-nonsense, vintage East Coast production with dope lyricists. The result is a “Rock” solid release that satisfies those heads fiending for an East Coast trip down memory lane circa 1995.

Rock milked his hip-hop Rolodex on this effort as his beats are beefed up with tight lyrics courtesy of everyone from Dipset’s Jim Jones and Max B, Styles P and Sheek Louch of the Lox, Masta Killa, Raekwon , Papoose and Redman. Lead single “We Roll” featuring the aforementioned services of Jim Jones and Max B, is a horn-infused throwback that allows the Dips’ capo and their crooner to temporarily put aside their apparent beef, and flow confidently over Rock’s breezy soul.

“PJs” featuring Wu Tang’s Raekwon and Masta Killa is a track that we have already heard before on 2006’s 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. Rae spits his usual Wu metaphors while Masta Killa bodies his verse where he reminds us of his well-earned street pedigree, “Degrees of experience/Qualifies me to speak/In certain areas where many can’t reach”.

On the Papoose-assisted album closer “Comprehend” yet another guest lyricist sounds right at home over Rock’s soulful keys and drum kicks as Papoose’s staccato bars add the finishing touches to this certified New York heater. Pap shows love to one of the game’s best producers as he tips his hat to Rock lyrically, “Say my name when you sneeze / Pap is a blessin’/ It’s an honour to be in this session / Pete Rock is a legend”.

From start to finish, Pete Rock’s latest offering NY’s Finest (Nature Sounds,2008) plays out like your favorite mixtape from the mid-90s that you just found again and popped into you cassette deck. Only this time around the old is mixed with the new resulting in the soon to be classic that many of us thought couldn’t be made. For rap to continue evolving and progressing 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.G’s 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.

Rating: 9/10

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