Tag Archives: Mecca And The Soul Brother

New Joint – Freqnik & WDRE / Pete Rock & CL Smooth

freqnik cover 1

Pete Rock & CL Smooth – “Ghettos Of The Mind – Freqnik & WDRE Remix” (Boro Recordings / 2013)

The NY production duo deliver another impeccable reworking of a golden-age classic with this latest instalment of their “Tribute To 90s Hip-Hop” series.

Da Two – Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth

Chuck Diesel interview with Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth discussing Hip-Hop’s generation gap following the duo’s recent performance at The Shrine in Chicago.

Live Review – Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth

Venue: Jazz Cafe, London  Date: 29 October 2012

As one of Hip-Hop’s greatest musical partnerships, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth hold a place not only in the rap history books, but also in the hearts of loyal fans worldwide. The Money Earnin’ Mount Vernon duo’s output in the early-to-mid-90s consisted of nothing but back-to-back classic material, from their debut 1991 EP “All Souled Out” through to the remix singles that came off their brilliant 1994 sophomore album “The Main Ingredient”. Whilst Pete Rock also blessed the likes of Public Enemy, Das EFX and Nas with his trademark horn-driven production, it can’t be denied that few sounded as comfortable on a Chocolate Boy Wonder track as the Mecca Don, C.L. Smooth, who wrapped up street knowledge, social commentary and self-reflection in his instantly recognisable, warm, buttery flow.

Since that initial golden-era run, Pete and C.L.’s relationship has been rocky to say the least, both musically and personally. With promises of reunion projects amounting to little more than the odd single here and there, the pair’s on-off status has kept supporters guessing for years, surrounded by a dark cloud of supposed unresolved differences.

So taking all of that into consideration, it was with mixed feelings of excitement and reluctance that news of Pete and C.L.’s 20th anniversary “Mecca And The Soul Brother” tour arrived in this particular writer’s inbox. Obviously, the opportunity to see two legends celebrate a truly flawless example of 90s East Coast Hip-Hop couldn’t be passed up. Yet, at the same time, the thought of seeing one of your favourite acts potentially going through the motions and subsequently damaging their legacy wasn’t necessarily something that I wanted to witness either.

Thankfully, if the childhood friends do still have any unsettled issues, they didn’t allow them to spill over and negatively impact what, essentially, was a great performance of a classic album.

Although there were moments during the show that gave away the fact the pair haven’t spent as much time performing together in recent years as they once did, the chemistry that made the twosome’s sonic collaborations so incredible was still clearly there to be seen and heard.

With Pete Rock already positioned behind his turntables and laptop, C.L. descended the Jazz Cafe stairs to thunderous cheers, accompanied by the spoken word intro from the opening cut on “Mecca And The Soul Brother”, the aptly-titled “Return Of The Mecca”. Standing centre-stage, arms outstretched, face screwed tightly in a “That’s that s**t!” expression, Corey Love stepped straight back into 1992, hitting his rhymes crisply and clearly the moment Pete Rock’s huge drums came crashing through the speakers.

Working their way through their Elektra-released album’s epic tracklist in chronological order at first, “For Pete’s Sake”, “Ghettos Of The Mind” and “Lots Of Lovin” were all given an enthusiastic response from the crowd.

At one point, Pete Rock made his way from behind the turntables to perform his “All Souled Out” solo cut “The Creator” and “Soul Brother #1”, with C.L. admitting ‘This is making me feel like a kid again…’ as they continued to take the audience on a collective trip down memory lane via tracks like “Act Like You Know” and the relentless head-nodder “Can’t Front On Me”.

Pausing briefly to allow Pete to flex his deejay skills, which included the super-producer dropping both classic breakbeats and a selection of his own work with other artists, the pair soon dove straight back into their timeless debut.

Not only was it impressive that C.L. didn’t stumble once whilst running through what are now twenty-year-old rhymes, it also brought home just how mature and ahead-of-his-time the young Mecca Don was back when he originally penned those verses over two decades ago, with the focused political aggression of “Anger In The Nation” and the cautionary lyrics of “Straighten It Out” sounding completely appropriate coming out of the mouth of a forty-something emcee in the present day.

Of course, no track on “Mecca And The Soul Brother” quite makes that point like the stunning Trouble T-Roy dedication “They Reminisce Over You”. By the time Pete Rock blended the original Tom Scott track into the triumphant opening horns of their own version as the show finale, it felt like literally everyone was on their feet, hands in the air, caught up in the emotional, dusty-fingered magic of an anthem that is to Hip-Hop what John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” is to jazz and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” is to soul music.

With the pair meeting and greeting fans afterwards, Pete signing records and C.L. posing for photographs, a lot of people no doubt left the Jazz Cafe very, very happy on this particular night.

Being super-critical, it would have been a nice touch if the pair had spoken a little more during the performance about the inspiration behind some of the tracks contained on “Mecca And The Soul Brother”, or maybe shared some studio stories to put the music into context for both the younger fans in attendance as well as the older heads. But, ultimately, the beats and rhymes that make up the album spoke for themselves adequately enough in 1992 and have easily stood the test of time well enough to still be able to do the same in 2012.

So, after this successful live reunion, the question that now needs to be asked, to paraphrase Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth themselves, is what’s next on the menu for the iconic duo?

Ryan Proctor

Footage of Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth performing “They Reminisce Over You” on the first of their three nights at London’s Jazz Cafe.