Sunday, November 22, 2009

I never heard either Pete Rock & CL Smooth album in full until now.

Why? They were both exhausting. 14-16 songs a piece, many of which clock in around the 5 minute mark. I was a fan (“The Creator” remains one of my favorite rap records to date), but somewhere around 75% of the way through both albums I just lost interest.

I only recently sat through Mecca & The Soul Brother and The Main Ingredient so that I could join some secret fraternal brotherhood amongst “real” Hip-Hoppers, if you will. The debut was hard hitting and the beat change ups were cool, but being that I’m not a producer it didn’t quite hype the shit out of me. Pete Rock’s style was a bit rough around the edges for my liking (I much more preferred DJ Premier/A Tribe Called Quest at the time) and CL Smooth said a whole lot of nothing to me. “For Pete’s Sake” has always been my shit, “Straighten It Out” is an eternal classic, and T.R.O.Y. is classic as well but for me it’s never been the end all be all “THIS IS REAL HIP-HOP” song as so many proclaim. But I’m glad to have sat this album out finally as “If It Aint Rough It Aint Right” was pretty dope. That much said, Mecca & The Soul Brother sounds dated going into 2010.

Now that I’ve risked never being able to get a haircut in Mt. Vernon, let me express my fondness for The Main Ingredient. This was a much more enjoyable experience for me. Songs like “Carmel City”, “I Got A Love”, “Searching” and “Take You There” were all passable at a time when catering rap to women and being dope weren’t mutually exclusive ideas. The bars still weren’t potent, but CL Smooth performed adequate enough to accompany the smooth melodic backdrops he was given. Pete Rock went in pretty hard with the raps on “Escape” but moments like that were few and far in between. “Sun Wont Come Out” has always been my favorite song on this album and I consider it the quintessential Pete & CL song as Pete’s talking for the hook accompany CL’s random nothingness over that beautiful track. By “Check it Out”, I was ready to quit on this album but I fought through just to say I made it all the way.

Rumor has it Pete Rock & CL Smooth have put their old differences behind them and reunited, at least for the sake of temporarily touring. Their short lived run paints a picture of individuality and soul as they fused elements of that era’s jazzy and harder Hip-Hop, at a time when most chose one extreme or the other. That much said, I don’t need to have about 70% of either album in regular rotation.