Record Label: Elektra
Easily one of the most influential hip-hop producers of all time, (mentioned frequently in the same breath as production legends like J Dilla, DJ Premier, and The RZA) Pete Rock played a pivotal role in the development of the critically acclaimed alternative hip-hop scene of the 1990s. His signature production style features obscure R&B, funk, and jazz records, rough drum breaks, and frequent use of brass sections, and was considered integral in developing the connection between hip-hop and jazz music.
Before his celebrated solo work, he formed the production half of the duo Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, which featured philosophically-minded rapper C.L. Smooth on vocals. The two only released two full-length studio albums, but to massive critical acclaim and influence. These two albums, 1992's Mecca & The Soul Brother and 1994's The Main Ingredient are considered classics in the pantheon of 90s hip-hop, and rendered timeless rap singles like "Straighten It Out" and "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)."
Mecca & The Soul Brother is regarded as one of the greatest hip hop debuts of all time, home to the duo's signature track, "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)" The album is propelled forward by Rock's quick, soulful interludes; usually bits of old R&B tunes layered with his signature trumpet and sax loops. Smooth's liquid freestyle delivery pieces together the perfect vocal match that, together, creates a sprawling, nearly 80-minute-long album on which not a single song or interlude is a throwaway or a superfluous piece.
Though Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth were considered heavy-hitters in hip-hop, the duo was by no means solid, and frequently found themselves at odds with each other creatively. The two would cease working together as a duo in 1995, intermittently working together on individual tracks, but falling shy of a full-fledged third studio release. Though the group would eventually reunite after the untimely death of rapper Guru of Gang Starr, so the prospect still remains.