the musings, music & projects of Dj A-Ski..

Unique74 salutes PETE ROCK!!

I originally started this blog post last Saturday which was Pete Rock’s b-day, I got caught up getting ready for a gig that day. However, I felt the need to complete and speak about one of my heroes in the game that inspired me to spend endless hours in various record shops, hole in the wall spots while running the risk of rat bites and who knows what else in the name of “digging in the crates”. Pete Rock and Erick Sermon have to be single-handedly credited for constantly keeping the term “Funk” alive during the 90’s era of Hip Hop which was infused with a lot of sub standard new jack swing anthems that lacked the original recipe of the great Teddy Riley.

Hip Hop has always celebrated the music of past heroes in Funk-Soul-Jazz such as Gil Scot Heron, Kool and The Gang, Sly Stone, James Brown, The Headhunters, Roger Troutman,etc. Many criticized these new breed of street producers and dj’s for their constant use of sampling, but failed to acknowledge these young trailblazers in keeping the legacy of these artists alive by re-interpreting their works which might have been overlooked by these new generation of urban tastemakers and street griots. So-called “Black Radio” and many Pop/Crossover/ Oldies stations turned their backs on many of these great Soul-Funk-Rock-Jazz artists due to various inner politics and socio-economic ramifications that existed within their infrastructure. By the mid 90’s, most Mom and Pop radio stations that catered to fans of the classic 50’s, 60’s & 70’s sound were being sold and bought by major corporations which took over these stations. As a result, giving listeners a very processed and over redundancy in its programming. During this time, there is a new generation of taste makers on the rise creating street anthems that not only became charted HITS but cradled many through their high school and college experiences. Pete Rock was one of the major figures in ushering that new street sound, fusing heavy Funk, Jazz and Rock with the Emu SP-1200 as the navigating tool (I miss working that pretty little machine but dont miss losing the memory..). I remember hearing “Mecca and The Soul Brother” and going: “WHAT THE F–k?!” It was like a new wave of street funk samples for a new generation. See, I was also a huge fan of Marley Marl (who is Pete Rock’s mentor from his “In Control” days at WBLS). Which explains Pete’s great taste in samples in funk, just as the great master teacher Marley demonstrated on countless cuts..whats beautiful is that I always liked how Pete would incorporate Big Daddy Kane’s debut 12′ “Get Into It” in most of his early productions!!

I still get geeked watching this..my man pulls a “gangster move” during “Mr Big Stuff”..watch closely:

Pete has to be in my top 5 of great Hip Hop producers, with me being a die-hard funk head, I heard him loud and clearly. I remember during the mid 90’s I had the honor in opening for him at a venue in Downtown LA called “The Stock Exchange” (which was the original stock exchange building for Los Angeles during the early 20’s). This was the listening party for his solo debut “Soul Survivor”, what’s funny is that I had no idea he was going to show up. A lot of times, record labels may put together a listening party but that doesn’t mean the artist may show up, but in this case I was proven wrong. Its midnite and im flipping my doubles of “Dont Look Any Further” with “Get Money” (this was way before I started doing the emceeing thing..my man Toquan The MC from SOUL ELEVATION handled that area..big shout to Dj Rock for hooking me up with that gig!). So as im doing my routine (im on an elevated level overlooking damn near 1000+ people which was a huge deal for me at that time, its like the 8th floor on a balcony), I feel someone hovering over me and im thinking its someone trying to make a request..lo and behold I turn around.. its the “Soul Brother”, im nervous yet excited. We exchanged greetings and gave pounds, I asked him was he ready to play yet and he says “naw man you are nice with it, keep going.” At that point, I go hella hard on the routines. After that the man himself goes in with MOP‘s “How About Some Hardcore” and its pure pandemonium (bear in mind this was a Hip Hop/R&B crowd that was wide open that nite…high heels and all!). After the set, we had a brief conversation about “Crown Heights Affair” and funk breaks. Thats my Pete Rock moment I had to share which I still cherish to this day.

Thank You 4 The Funk Pete!! Happy Belated Birthday!!

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