The seminal hip hop producer Pete Rock, who is known for his innovative inclusion of jazz in his hip hop beats in the early 1990s, continues to inspire a new generation. This year, he has connected with the online sample catalog Tracklib, which allows producers to create beats of their own, to offer his mentorship to a winner of the site’s Beat Battle Competition.
Rock, who has worked with A Tribe Called Quest and The Roots and is responsible for the sound of Nas’ groundbreaking track “The World is Yours,” has a lot to offer a young producer looking to break into the world of hip hop production.
He took the time to talk to the AmNews about the new generation of hip hop and his incredibly important contribution to the genre at large.
Amsterdam News: What attracted you to be a part of the Tracklib Beat Battle Competition?
Pete Rock: I like hearing different producers. It helps me listen for talent. There’s so much talent out in the world that people don’t get to hear so doing beat battles allows me to hear different people.
AmNews: How would you like to mentor a new producer?
PR: I would tell them first to have passion, patience and genuine love for what they’re doing. Secondly, they should take the first steps to learn how to use their ear. From there, it goes to testing what they hear and listening to old music, from jazz to soul to rock, and being interested in understanding what is passing through their ear.
AmNews: Are you excited to work with Tracklib’s digital platform of music?
PR: There’s so much there with catalogs. I can’t wait to delve into their stuff and see what I can come up with. That’s the fun part of dealing with Tracklib, having to go through their library of [samples] and getting to pick and choose sounds. It’s great.
AmNews: Do you still enjoy sampling from vinyl?
PR: Of course. There’s still something about vinyl shops where you can find a record that you’re not going to find anywhere else. There’s a lot that Apple is finding out about and is putting it out digitally but I don’t believe there are albums that will ever be digital. So, I’m still in the record shops looking to find good vinyl.
AmNews: What do you think about current hip hop lyrically? Do you think we’re moving forward in regard to the messages coming out?
PR: You have to pick your poison of different genres of rap music that’s out there. You’ve got different kinds of hip hop and you can pick and choose from. Lyrically, it’s not what I feel it should be. I feel that it’s not A Tribe Called Quest, it’s not Gangstarr and Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth lyrically. It’s not Public Enemy and KRS ONE. Those MCs and lyricists had something to say. In today’s mainstream rap it seems like nobody is saying anything. Back then, you could learn from [lyrics] and have them spark an idea in a positive way. I feel like there’s still more work to be done and a lot of the young generation today just needs to open their minds more and learn about not only their core audience but also how to make music and how to write.
AmNews: Do you feel like you’re taking on a role-model position? What are ways you can pull out creativity from young people?
PR: I think creativity is natural. I just happen to be a creative person. I’ve always been a role model and I felt like even if I’m not teaching anyone you can still learn by listening to my music. If you’re using your ear you can learn how I did it but now I feel like in the physical form I’m able to help push things along when I’m talking to the youth about music.
AmNews: What’s your favorite Pete Rock collaboration?
PR: I’ll have to say RUN DMC because I worked with Jam Master Jay on a track called “Down with the King.” Rest in peace to Jam Master Jay. They were my favorite rap group and one day I was buying their music and being a fan and the next I was working with them in the studio. Shout out to RUN DMC.