6 posts categorized "Pete Rock"

October 28, 2014

BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time

A Top Beatmakers List with a Deeper Meaning and Purpose

By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)


NOTE: If you've already read the disclaimer about the nature of the BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time, you can jump down to the rankings and click on the corresponding name for a helpful breakdown of each beatmaker.


Whenever lists of this sort appear, they’re generally presented with little or no serious discussion about the list beforehand. Perhaps that’s fine for pure entertainment purposes. But for readers to get the best learning experience from a review list of this kind, I believe there are a number of things that readers should know up front. Thus, I’d like to offer an important disclaimer about the nature of the BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time list and the criteria used to determine which beatmakers were added to it.


The Nature of this List

The BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time list is one of the first sub-projects of the BeatTips Art of Beatmaking Education Project (ABEP) that I recently started. The fundamental purpose of the BeatTips ABEP is to help preserve, promote, and expand the beatmaking tradition of hip hop/rap music through a series of specialized projects. In this way, the BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time list is meant to serve as a discussion, MusicStudy, and general research portal.


Next, the BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All-Time purposely omits the word “producer”, and here’s why. In the hip hop/rap music and beatmaking traditions, the term “producer” is often synonymously used to describe a beatmaker. But as I point out in my book The BeatTips Manual, this is not always appropriate particularly because the definition of “producer” can be murky: “Hip hop production is the creation of hip hop music. And although this description broadly covers every dimension of hip hop/rap music, the term hip hop production is used most commonly to refer to the making of the hip hop/rap instrumental — the beat. So technically speaking, a beatmaker, one who makes beats, is a hip hop producer; ergo, a beatmaker is a producer.” But “producer” is a loose term that can be used to describe anyone within the process of the final sound of a recording. Simply put, a beatmaker is someone who actually makes beats. A beatmaker can indeed be a producer; in fact, most double as both. (Further, being a beatmaker is not in anyway less noble than being a producer!) However, and this is a critical point, a producer need not be a beatmaker. Hip hop/rap music is littered with people who have “producer” credits, even though they never actually made (or assisted in the making of) any beats. Thus, The BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time List only includes beatmakers. Of course, each beatmaker on this list has also rightfully earned the title of producer.


There are four other important things to know about the nature of The BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time list. First, the purpose of this list is to educate. Hopefully, new beatmakers will be introduced more appropriately to some prominent beatmakers that they’ve only heard about in passing. And beatmaking veterans will be reminded of just how far the beatmaking tradition has come. In either case, I’d like this list to prompt some serious exploration and reflection from readers. Preserving and expanding hip hop/rap’s beatmaking tradition requires historical examination, present-day review, future speculation, and, at times, constructive (helpful) debate.


Second, this isn't a list to appease anyone that I know personally. I can count a number of beatmakers as friends; and I’ve interviewed many well-known and lesser-known (but quite acclaimed) beatmakers. That aside, I’ve made no effort to show favoritism in the making of this list. My objectivity — and naturally subjectivity — in the making of this list was based on the catalog of work of each beatmaker that I seriously considered.


Third, this is not a list intended to be safe, so as to not offend anyone. Top lists of any kind tend to offend one group or another, so I'm all right with that. And certainly, a top 100 list would have given me enough coverage to include everybody’s favorite. Even a top 50 would have allowed more room for adding all of what many would consider to be the obvious names. Still, a top 30 list presents a challenge, especially when you consider beatmaking’s classic past and its mixed present. I’m not interested in gathering up an easy list of names. Instead, I want readers to seriously think, perhaps even broaden their own thoughts about how, why, and where they rank their favorite beatmakers.


Fourth, The BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time is not a "hottest in the game right now" list. I deeply respect longevity, particularly because it requires talent, drive, integrity, and hustle. I'm less interested on shining a light on just this moment in time. In fact, I believe all-time lists offer a better learning (and discovery) experience for readers. This is especially important for new beatmakers who are often less familiar with the names and critical works of earlier times.


The Criteria

When making the BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All-Time list there were many different things that I considered, far too many to mention here. But there are eight main criteria that I used in making this list:


(1) Body of work. Without the work speaking for itself, there could be no serious consideration of any beatmaker who made this list. And while I did not deem it necessary that each beatmaker on the list had a massive catalog, the sheer number of beats (recognized and respected songs) of certain beatmakers could not be ignored. Therefore, a larger body of acclaimed work was appropriately given more preference. Also, special attention was paid to how many songs a beatmaker had within the cannon of hip hop/rap music, as well as whether or not a beatmaker contributed to the career of another pivotal hip hop/rap artist’s career. I should further add that the body of work that I've considered here is hip hop/rap only! Whether a beatmaker could or did produce music outside of the hip hop/rap genre had no bearing on where I ranked them with respect to hip hop/rap music. If I were ranking all-time horror film directors, it would be silly to include the comedic works of those directors as consideration in where they should be ranked. Likewise, neo-soul, drum-n-bass, dub step, etc. has no influence on a hip hop/rap ranking.


(2) Critical acclaim for a clearly distinguishable and/or signature sound. Preference was given (as I believe it should have been), to those beatmakers who either established their own well-recognized signature sound or contributed considerably to one or more of the eight distinct periods of beatmaking (In The BeatTips Manual, I examine and detail all eight periods).


(3) Minimum of at least three critically acclaimed (not just top sellers) songs, albums, collaborative works, etc. within the last 30 years. Part of being a standout in any art medium is recognition within the field. Sometimes this means big hits, other times it means well-respected songs that most skilled beatmakers know of or appreciate for what they are. And note: this particular criteria reflects the reality that some of the best in any given field are overlooked for various reasons. However, this does not diminish their work. Moreover, history is loaded with artists who didn’t get their proper appreciation until late in or well after their careers.


(4) The number of lyrically acclaimed rappers — in their prime — who rapped over their beats, and/or the subsequent “classic” songs created over the last 30 years. This is of particular importance for two reasons. First, it serves as proof as a particular beatmaker’s automatic place in the canon of hip hop/rap music. Second, it demonstrates the popularity and respect of a beatmaker among the best rhymers of their and other times.


(5) Real, not misperceived, impact and influence on other top beatmakers
of all time. Everybody has to be influenced by someone. But who influenced most of the beatmakers on the BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All-Time list? Not surprisingly, many influenced each other.


(6) Real, not misperceived, overall impact (or likely impact) on the beatmaking tradition. In other words, what was their recognizable impact on the beatmaking tradition itself? For instance, what developments, styles, techniques, ideas, etc. did they contribute to the beatmaking tradition?


(7) Longevity. How long was a beatmaker able to maintain his career. For various reasons, some beatmaker’s careers were cut short, while others have continued to blossom since they first began. Thus, longevity wasn’t measured in a sheer number of years, but in terms of body of work within the frame of time a beatmaker made his name. Think of it this way: Jimi Hendrix’s entire body of work is just four years…


(8) Projected influence and impact on future beatmakers. Of course, this is speculation at best. No one can predict the future. Still, we can recognize the lasting contributions made to the beatmaking tradition by certain beatmakers.


One final note about this list: It’s not static. That is to say, the beatmaking tradition is constantly expanding, therefore, this list will necessarily need to be adjusted to account for new production output by beatmakers, as well as new research by myself. Thus, each new year, in September, a new BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All-Time list will be generated.


(Homage to DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa — the grandfathers of modern beatmaking.)

#30 • Statik Selektah

#29 • Dame Grease

#28 • True Master

#27 • Bink

#26 • The Beatnuts

#25 • DJ Khalil

#24 • Havoc (of Mobb Deep)

#23 • Rick Rubin

#22 • 9th Wonder

#21 • Alchemist

#20 • Buckwild

#19 • Madlib

#18 • Nottz

#17 • Prince Paul

#16 • DJ Paul and Juicy J

#15 • Kev Brown

#14 • Showbiz

#13 • DJ Tomp

#12 • Just Blaze

#11 • The Neptunes

#10 • Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad (of A Tribe Called Quest)

#9 • J Dilla

#8 • The Bomb Squad (Hank Shocklee, Eric “Vietnam” Sadler, Keith Shocklee, Chuck D)

#7 • Kanye West

#6 • Dr. Dre

#5 • Large Professor

#4 • Pete Rock

#3 • RZA

#2 • Marley Marl

#1 • DJ Premier


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The BeatTips Manual by Amir Said (Sa'id).
"The most trusted name in beatmaking."

September 27, 2014

BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time: #4

A "Top" Beatmakers List with a Deeper Meaning and Purpose

By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)

NOTE: If you've already read the disclaimer about the nature of the BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time, jump to the bottom for the link to the corresponding list number.

Whenever lists of this sort appear, they’re generally presented with little or no serious discussion about the list beforehand. Perhaps that’s fine for pure entertainment purposes. But for readers to get the best learning experience from a review list of this kind, I believe there are a number of things that readers should know up front. Thus, I’d like to offer an important disclaimer about the nature of the BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time list and the criteria used to determine which beatmakers were added.


The Nature of this List

The BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time list is one of the first sub-projects of the BeatTips Art of Beatmaking Education Project (ABEP) that I recently started. The fundamental purpose of the BeatTips ABEP is to help preserve, promote, and expand the beatmaking tradition of hip hop/rap music through a series of specialized projects. In this way, the BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time list is meant to serve as a discussion, MusicStudy, and general research portal.


Next, the BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All-Time purposely omits the word “producer”, and here’s why. In the hip hop/rap music and beatmaking traditions, the term “producer” is often synonymously used to describe a beatmaker. But as I point out in my book The BeatTips Manual, this is not always appropriate particularly because the definition of “producer” can be murky: “Hip hop production is the creation of hip hop music. And although this description broadly covers every dimension of hip hop/rap music, the term hip hop production is used most commonly to refer to the making of the hip hop/rap instrumental — the beat. So technically speaking, a beatmaker, one who makes beats, is a hip hop producer; ergo, a beatmaker is a producer.” But “producer” is a loose term that can be used to describe anyone within the process of the final sound of a recording. Simply put, a beatmaker is someone who actually makes beats. A beatmaker can indeed be a producer; in fact, most double as both. (Further, being a beatmaker is not in anyway less noble than being a producer!) However, and this is a critical point, a producer need not be a beatmaker. Hip hop/rap music is littered with people who have “producer” credits, even though they never actually made (or assisted in the making of) any beats. Thus, The BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time List only includes beatmakers. Of course, each beatmaker on this list has also rightfully earned the title of producer.


There are four other important things to know about the nature of The BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time list. First, the purpose of this list is to educate. Hopefully, new beatmakers will be introduced more appropriately to some prominent beatmakers that they’ve only heard about in passing. And beatmaking veterans will be reminded of just how far the beatmaking tradition has come. In either case, I’d like this list to prompt some serious exploration and reflection from readers. Preserving and expanding hip hop/rap’s beatmaking tradition requires historical examination, present-day review, future speculation, and, at times, constructive (helpful) debate.


Second, this isn't a list to appease anyone that I know personally. I can count a number of beatmakers as friends; and I’ve interviewed many well-known and lesser-known (but quite acclaimed) beatmakers. That aside, I’ve made no effort to show favoritism in the making of this list. My objectivity — and naturally subjectivity — in the making of this list was based on the catalog of work of each beatmaker that I seriously considered.


Third, this is not a list intended to be safe, so as to not offend anyone. Top lists of any kind tend to offend one group or another, so I'm all right with that. And certainly, a top 100 list would have given me enough coverage to include everybody’s favorite. Even a top 50 would have allowed more room for adding all of what many would consider to be the obvious names. Still, a top 30 list presents a challenge, especially when you consider beatmaking’s classic past and its mixed present. I’m not interested in gathering up an easy list of names. Instead, I want readers to seriously think, perhaps even broaden their own thoughts about how, why, and where they rank their favorite beatmakers.


Fourth, The BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time is not a "hottest in the game right now" list. I deeply respect longevity, particularly because it requires talent, drive, integrity, and hustle. I'm less interested on shining a light on just this moment in time. In fact, I believe all-time lists offer a better learning (and discovery) experience for readers. This is especially important for new beatmakers who are often less familiar with the names and critical works of earlier times.


The Criteria

When making the BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All-Time list there were many different things that I considered, far too many mention here. But there are 8 main criteria that I used in making this list:


(1) Body of work. Without the work speaking for itself, there could be no serious consideration of any beatmaker who made this list. And while I did not deem it necessary that each beatmaker on the list had a massive catalog, the sheer number of beats (recognized and respected songs) of certain beatmakers could not be ignored. Therefore, a larger body of acclaimed work was, appropriately, given more preference. Also, special attention was paid to how many songs a beatmaker had within the cannon of hip hop/rap music, as well as whether or not a beatmaker contributed to the career of another pivotal hip hop/rap artist’s career. I should further add that the body of work that I've considered here is hip hop/rap only! Whether a beatmaker could or did produce music outside of the hip hop/rap genre had no bearing on where I ranked them with respect to hip hop/rap music. If I were ranking all-time horror film directors, it would be silly to include the comedic works of those directors as consideration in where they should be ranked. Likewise, neo-soul, drum-n-bass, dub step, etc. has no influence on a hip hop/rap ranking.


(2) Critical acclaim for a clearly distinguishable and/or signature sound. Preference was given (as I believe it should have been), to those beatmakers who either established their own well-recognized signature sound or contributed considerably to one or more of the 8 distinct periods of beatmaking.


(3) Minimum of at least three critically acclaimed (not just top sellers) songs, albums, collaborative works, etc. within the last 30 years. Part of being a standout in any art medium is recognition within the field. Sometimes this means big hits, other times it means well-respected songs that most skilled beatmakers know of or appreciate for what they are. And note: this particular criteria reflects the reality that some of the best in any given field are overlooked for various reasons. However, this does not diminish their work. Moreover, history is loaded with artists who didn’t get their proper appreciation until late in or well after their careers.


(4) The number of lyrically acclaimed rappers — in their prime — who rapped over their beats, and/or the subsequent “classic” songs created over the last 30 years. This is of particular importance for two reasons. First, it serves as proof as a particular beatmaker’s automatic place in the canon of hip hop/rap music. Second, it demonstrates the popularity and respect of a beatmaker among the best rhymers of their and other times.


(5) Real, not misperceived, impact and influence on other top beatmakers
of all time. Everybody has to be influenced by someone. But who influenced most of the beatmakers on the BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All-Time list? Not surprisingly, many influenced each other.


(6) Real, not misperceived, overall impact (or likely impact) on the beatmaking tradition. In other words, what was their recognizable impact on the beatmaking tradition itself? For instance, what developments, styles, techniques, ideas, etc. did they contribute to the beatmaking tradition?


(7) Longevity. How long was a beatmaker able to maintain his career. For various reasons, some beatmaker’s careers were cut short, while others have continued to blossom since they first began. Thus, longevity wasn’t measured in a sheer number of years, but in terms of body of work within the frame of time a beatmaker made his name. Think of it this way: Jimi Hendrix’s entire body of work is just four years…


(8) Projected influence and impact on future beatmakers. Of course, this is speculation at best. No one can predict the future. Still, we can recognize the lasting contributions made to the beatmaking tradition by certain beatmakers.


One final note about this list: It’s not static. That is to say, the beatmaking tradition is constantly expanding, therefore, this list will necessarily need to be adjusted to account for new production output by beatmakers, as well as new research by myself. Thus, each new year, in September, a new BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All-Time list will be generated.


Click here to see the breakdown for #4 on the BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time list. Note: Each day in September, one number from the top 30 will be revealed, continuing from #30 all the way to #1.


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The BeatTips Manual by Amir Said (Sa'id).
"The most trusted name in beatmaking."

March 26, 2011

BeatTips MusicStudy: Roc Marciano, "Game of Death;" Pete Rock on the Beat

Tough Strings, Solid Drums, Jabbing Bass-Stabs, and Punch-You-in-the-Face Rhymes

By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)

Been following Roc Marciano's development for a while now. He's reached that rhyme confidence level that many rappers fall well short of. Here on one of Pete Rock's more sinister beatworks, Roc Marciano is all bravado, no filler or un-useful slang. Each line of poetry flows effortlessly with each meter of the beat. Dope.

The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Roc Marciano - Game of Death (Prod. Pete Rock)

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The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

December 30, 2010

DJ Premier and Pete Rock "Reminisce" Over "Memory Lane" and Other Classics

Two of the Most Important Beatmaking Pioneers Trade Stories About Some of their Most Acclaimed Production

By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)

In this gem of an interview (1-hr long), Pete Rock and DJ Premier drop a number of jewels. Using a format whereby each pioneer is handed a physical copy of a single or album that they produced and/or worked on, the interview (reportedly taped in Japan), makes for a very open, impromptu-like conversation, in which little-known and unknown details inevitably spill out from both beat icons.

For instance, Premier discusses the last minute magic that resulted in Biggie’s “Unbelievable,” revealing a small detail about is beatmaking process. He also stresses how limited sampling time forces the mind to be more creative. A point which I strongly agree. Having used the E-Mu SP 1200 and the Akai S950 (still a major piece in my current setup), I can attest that limited sampling time does indeed compel you to think more about the different ways in which you can rework a sample as well as how to sketch out unique drum patterns.

Of course, Pete Rock also chimes in with a number of great stories and details of his own. He's especially animated when discussing his days as a beatmaker in his parents' basement, offering a window into how he managed his production output. Along with Premier, PR makes a strong plea for Nas to do a an Illmatic sequel. He even goes so far as to warn Nas to “do it before it’s too late.” A warning I agree with.

Finally, both Premier and Pete Rock indirectly raise up a very important factor that's often overlooked these days: the proximity connection (chemistry). As both share stories of rappers routinely coming over to their homes in the prime of their careers, it becomes clear that the proximity connection—the chemistry that can only develop when beatmakers and rappers are in the same studio environment together—was a major contributing factor to their success.

Although some beatmakers still maintain that “come-over-to-the-crib/studio” tradition today (here, Marco Polo and Statik Selektah immediately come to mind), for the most part, that in-studio, proximity connection created chemistry is mostly gone. Considering this fact, one would have to say that the resulting disconnection caused by a decline of beatmakers and rappers working more closely together has, at least in some ways, contributed to a "different"—not entirely lower—grade of hip hop/rap music. Still, I see a revival of this factor. And hopefully, this Premier and Pete Rock sitdown will go a long way in helping to speed up this revival.

The video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Sitdown With DJ Premier & Pete Rock

Sitdown With DJ Premier & Pete Rock from DJPremierBlog on Vimeo.

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The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

December 18, 2010

Pete Rock's Drums Makes Kanye's "Runaway" Soar

Beatmaking Pioneer Talks Upcoming Projects; Says Kanye Sampled his Drum Work for the Making of "Runaway."

By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)

Any nugget of a jewel that beatmaking pioneers offer up is a good thing. Unfortunately, the Hip Hop Chronicle Exclusive Pete Rock video interview (covered below) is short on jewels in the area of the “how to” variety. But that being said, this video is interesting still the same. For one thing, Pete Rock drops a couple of names that he will be featuring on his half of the announced (but date uncertain) Pete Rock vs. DJ Premier album. Also, PR concedes that DJ Premier is both a major influence and competition. That’s a real jewel, as respect and admiration for the competition has always been a hallmark of the “hip hop sensibility” (The BeatTips Manual contains a detailed analysis of the “hip hop sensibility.)”

Finally, Pete Rock drops a surprise when he says that Kanye told him that for his song “Runaway” (from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy), he sampled his [Pete Rock’s] drums from a Pete Rock & CL Smooth album. Does this mean that Pete Rock is in line for royalties, or was the matter resolved when Pete Rock gave Kanye the beat for “Joy” (a dope song curiously left off of Kanye’s latest LP, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy)? Perhaps. I don’t think a pioneer like Pete Rock would pursue action against another beatmaker (producer) who sampled a drum pattern he created. Plus, I gotta (or at least, I want to) believe that Pete Rock was compensated for the “Joy” beat in some form. Either way, “Joy” was a good look for both Pete Rock and Kanye West, which means that it was also a very good look for beatmaking.

The music and videos below are presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

*EXCLUSIVE* Pete Rock On DJ Premier & CL Smooth Album, Producing (via The Hip Hop Chronicle UK)


Kanye West – “Runaway” [Reportedly featuring the drum work of Pete Rock]

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The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

October 28, 2010

BeatTips Editorial: Top 10 Things I Want To See From The 'Pete Rock Vs. DJ Premier' Album

Beat Giants' Album Could Have Far Reaching Effects

By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)

10. Increased Awareness of Pete Rock and DJ Premier as Well as Other Important Pioneers of Eras Gone Past
One of the most disheartening developments of the past decade is the increasing disconnect between the “now” and the “then”. Although it might be easy to assume that no one making beats hasn’t heard of Pete Rock or DJ Premier, the truth of the matter is something altogether different. Unfortunately, there is a growing wave of new beatmakers who (in most cases due to no fault of their own), are not as familiar with the role that Pete Rock and DJ Premier and similar pioneers have played in the hip hop/rap music and beatmaking traditions. Therefore, a Pete Rock/Premier album could serve as a powerful catalyst for new beatmakers interested in digging deeper into the beatmaking tradition. (This is a good thing, because in the end, hip hop/rap music wins with more knowledgeable beatmakers.)

9. No “R&B” Features.
When you say “Pete Rock” or “DJ Premier” you think: gutter, street, hardcore, boom bap. There is absolutely no logical reason that I support for changing that! Serious supporters of Pete Rock and Premier revere them for what they do best, regardless of what any era’s market forces may seem to dictate. And now, with a wide open lane for anybody to make the music that they truly want to make—especially for veterans with loads of unspent good will—it’s never been more easy to drop the dopest shit you can muster up. And I don’t care how nice the idea of an “R&B” joint might sound, a battle record—albeit friendly—between two kings of beatmaking has no room for an “R&B” feature; that shit will only get in the way.

8. One DJ Premier Joint Featuring H. Stax
Preem, "Same Team, No Games," which H. Stax was featured on, was certainly dope; but “Proper Dosage,” is the illest joint you and Stax ever made together thus far. However, "Proper Dosage" never really got the look it deserved. Plus, Stax is home team, and it’s only right somebody from East New York bless the mic! But still, I understand that the stakes involved with this album warrant high profile names. So a collector's edition bonus cut featuring Stax is something that I think would be dope.

7. An Album Release Party At Brooklyn Bowl
As many shows that I've been to over the years, a little known secret of mine (well, not such a secret to those close to me), is that I don't even dig shows all that much. My problem has never been with the music. I enjoy a good set just as much as any other fan. But what I have the biggest issues with are (1) venue space; and (2) the "hip hop/rap show shit" that goes along with a typical hip hop/rap show.

By and large, the venues that I've been to have been either too small or just plain ill-suited for a hip hop/rap marquee. And worse than that is the "atmosphere" that prevails at most shows, specifically, I'm referring to the standard ultra-ego and delusional talk that gets exchanged back and forth between artists, managers, hanger-ons, weed carriers, and groupies. Well, in Brooklyn Bowl it would appear that, for the first time since I saw KRS-One perform at The Fever in the South Bronx, I've actually found a spot I can chill in.

I've been to Brooklyn Bowl two times this year, once for the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival DJ Night, and once for a Pete Rock set. Both times I was impressed with the sheer size and space of the venue. It had a perfect dance floor/show area, and the main seating area that bordered the bowling lanes—yes, people actually bowl throughout the performance (dope, I know)—had deep couches and lighting blocks. One of the best kept secrets in Brooklyn, if not greater New York City, Brooklyn Bowl is a well thought out spot. One that I don't want to see shut down anytime sooner than it needs to. And a high-profile event like a Pete Rock vs. DJ Premier album would certainly help secure Brooklyn Bowl's spot on NYC's new "dope spots" list.

Oh, and did I mention that the ladies are real friendly at Brooklyn Bowl? I'm telling you, it's something about that space that make the ladies more relaxed and aggressive. But I digress...

6. One Joint Featuring Nas From Both Pete Rock and DJ Premier
If the purported format holds true—six songs a piece from Pete Rock and Premier with the rappers of their choosing—I gotta hear two of the ultimate dozen with Nas. In the last several years or so, there’s been a lot of, let’s say, flat-out sketchy talk about best rappers, MCs, and such. And seemingly lost in these “debates” is the notion of superb lyricism in all of it’s glory: style, context, content (subject matter), complexity, voice, delivery, and flow. And although there are great discussions about where Jay-Z, Pac, or Biggie should (or deserve) to be placed, the debate over where Nas fits in (or should, or deserves to be placed) has lost a lot of the attention that it once had.

There are a number of factors that may have contributed to why Nas has edged out of "the debate" in some circles (certainly far too many to weave through in this present editorial), but I would be interested in seeing if this Pete Rock/Premier album could help Nas regain the place he once had in the “best rapper, MC, lyricist” discussion.

5. Real, Prolonged Coverage From All Major and Minor Hip Hop/Rap Media Outlets
Projects of this nature deserve extensive coverage, not just a lost moment in a weekly news cycle. When Illmatic came out, an album that was at the time groundbreaking for the number of beatmakers (producers) in their prime that it featured, the coverage was rather robust and fitting for the moment. I’m not necessarily saying that this Pete Rock/Premier album should be held in the same regard; and I’m not saying that it shouldn’t either! Instead, what I am saying is that for all of the hype that many musically disconnected, uninteresting, and uninspiring projects have received in recent years, a Pete Rock/Premier caliber project should be afforded more than just a cursory mention on the top hip hop/rap news sites and music blogs.

4. At least 3 SP 1200-made beats by Pete Rock.
Over the past two decades, a number of veteran beatmakers made the switch from the infamous E-Mu SP-1200 to the MPC family. Some of the most notable ones include: Large Professor, Buckwild, and of course, DJ Premier. And although the argument can certainly be made that the “switch” greatly favored Preem and Buckwild, I’m not sure if the same could be said for Pete Rock.

Make no mistake, Pete Rock has made bangers on both beat machines. But I'm inclined to believe that his touch on the SP-1200 gets the edge. (Then again, that "Be Easy" joint he did for Ghostface is sick...) I can’t say for certain when exactly Pete Rock made the switch, or why, or even how often over the past decade or so that he’s placed SP-1200-made beats vs. MPC-made ones. Only Pete Rock knows the answer to that. I'm left only to speculate from what I've heard in his canon of dope production, and from what I know about the "sound" that the SP-1200 and MPC makes respectively. But if there’s anything damn near for certain, the “T.R.O.Y.” beat is Pete Rock’s greatest creation. In fact, “T.R.O.Y. (They Reminencse Over You) is arguably the greatest hip hop/rap song ever made. (I consider it to be.)

Therefore, if Pete Rock still has some SP-1200 disks—which I’m sure he does—we perhaps stand more than a fighting chance of hearing that level of greatness again. I mean, 15 years after the fact—time to reflect on his position in the beatmaking’s tree of pioneers; time to see styles come and go; time to use the power of hindsight; time to have acquired thousands more vinyl records—, I’m sure Pete Rock can get his SP-1200 (or even a rented one) to bubble and rumble like it once did.

3. The Actual Release of a Pete Rock vs. DJ Premier Album
Fans have been let down before by announced “dream” albums that never panned out. Many, including myself, are still waiting for the Nas and DJ Premier joint that was announced (rumored) years ago. But just as the present climate is aligning to finally bring forth a Nas/Premier LP, I think there’s even more likelihood that the Pete Rock/Premier album is going to actually happen; and perhaps much sooner than most people expect.

Pete Rock and Premier seem genuinely motivated about this project. Recently, both have publicly confirmed that the album is indeed officially in the works. I want to, no, I HAVE to believe that they know that it’s paramount that they see this album through. Hip hop/rap music isn’t as in dire straits as some would argue (there's some dope music out here), but a timely triumph from a pair of hip hop/rap’s highest ranking royalty could reset the balance of the present day scene. Moreover, I’m sure Pete Rock and Premier are hip to the fact that a new album—especially a groundbreaking one—will grant them new and more lucrative tour opportunities.

2. A Global Tour Orchestrated and Sponsored by BeatTips Featuring DJ Premier and Pete Rock (Trust me, it can happen).
Pete Rock and Premier are (rightfully so) HIGHLY regarded around the world. So there’s no shortage of interest in seeing the two tour. In fact, in the last year or so, they have already done so at least once, if I recall correctly. But the sort of tour that I have in mind has never been done before. And the time is right for it. I’ve already begun laying the groundwork…

1. More Unification of the Beatmaking Community.
Right now, although most beatmakers are somewhat unified, the reality is that the beatmaking community is more like a patchwork community of overlapping identities, where there are far too many of us who on one hand willingly ignore (often reject) the roots and fundamentals of the beatmaking tradition, or on the other hand, frown upon anything new. For the record, I’m somewhat culpable here, because I can dig just about any beatmaking style, except for ultra-melody “emo” joints... But seriously, when two giants of a tradition—two giants, I should add, that you would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t respect them or dig their music—join forces for a project of this nature, there’s a huge opportunity to help re-establish a more solid interpretation of what “quality hip hop/rap music” is.

And that’s not to say that boom bap has a monopoly on quality. On the contrary, quality hip hop/rap music—as I’d hope to see it unanimously defined—is merely hip hop/rap music that prioritizes the essence and nuance of the hip hop/rap music and beatmaking traditions, first and foremost. I think a project of this magnitude, given the natural buzz and curiosity it would generate, could draw beatmakers into a extensive conversation about our wonderful tradition. Such a conversation could only lead to more extensive conversations, which could only lead to things like, well, a beatmakers union, something I've long called for. In my book, The BeatTips Manual, I lay out a solid framework for what a beatmakers union could (should) look like. And beatmaking events such as the Pete Rock vs. DJ Premier album, could go a long way in helping the beatmakers union conversation move forward.

—Sa'id

Dedicated to exploring the art of beatmaking in all of its glory.

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