Pete Rock

Peter O. Phillips[1] (born June 21, 1970),[4] better known by his stage name Pete Rock, is an American record producer, DJ and rapper. He is widely recognized as one of the greatest hip hop producers of all time, and is often mentioned alongside DJ Premier, RZA and J Dilla as one of the mainstays of 1990s East Coast hip hop production. He rose to prominence in the early 1990s as one half of the critically acclaimed group Pete Rock & CL Smooth. Early on in his career, he was also famed for his remix work.

Pete Rock
Rock performing at Rahzel and Friends, Brooklyn Bowl, 2016
Rock performing at Rahzel and Friends,
Brooklyn Bowl, 2016
Background information
Birth namePeter O. Phillips[1]
Also known asSoul Brother #1[2]
The Chocolate Boy Wonder[3]
Born (1970-06-21) June 21, 1970 (age 50)
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
OriginMount Vernon, New York, U.S.
Years active1987–present
Associated acts

After the duo went their separate ways, Rock continued with a solo career that has garnered him worldwide respect, though little in the way of mainstream success.[5] Along with groups such as Stetsasonic, Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest and The Roots, Rock played a major role in the merging of elements from jazz into hip hop music (also known as jazz rap). Pete Rock is also the older brother and younger cousin, respectively, of rappers Grap Luva and Heavy D.[6][7][8]


Early lifeEdit

Pete Rock was born in The Bronx, New York,[9] the fourth of five children born to Jamaican immigrant parents.[10] His family moved to Mount Vernon, New York when he was seven years old. During high school, he met his future recording partner CL Smooth. According to Rock, his father was also a part-time DJ who had an impressive record collection. Rock would often accompany his father to a cricket club called Wembley in The Bronx and watch as he spun records for the guests.[9] His first job was as a paperboy, in his neighborhood.[9]

Solo careerEdit

Pete Rock performing at Marvel/Stussy launch party in Los Angeles, 2011

Pete Rock oversaw the production of Jay Stay Paid, a posthumous album by the producer J Dilla, released June 2, 2009, on Nature Sounds. Following that, Pete Rock joined Kanye West in Hawaii, who traveled there to work on the latter's fifth album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.[11] In addition, he and DJ Premier have announced that they are working on a joint album together, although further details are unknown.[12] Recently in London he confirmed that Big Pooh & C.L. Smooth will be on his half of the VS album and he plans on dropping 5 albums in 2011 including reuniting with C.L. Smooth for a third album & drop his 4th album on Nature Sounds.[13] His next few collaborative albums are both due for a summer release with Monumental first then with Camp Lo's "80 Blocks From Tiffanys" LP.[14] In an April 2011 interview on Conspiracy Worldwide Radio, Pete Rock discussed his new solo work including his album with DJ Premier, as well as exploring the fact that he has had numerous beats rejected by Eminem over the years [15] Pete Rock Uncensored Radio Interview. In an August 2011 interview, he has confirmed the completion of the Camp Lo album "80 Blocks From Tiffany's" and that he is currently working on production for Torae's album, Elzhi & his own solo album PeteStrumentals 2. Pete Rock announced on Twitter that PeteStrumentals 2 is indeed confirmed finished and scheduled for a 2015 release.[16] The project was released on June 23, 2015 on the indie label Mello Music Group. On January 2, 2019, Rock posted a trailer video on his Instagram page announcing that new works will be coming soon, including Return of the SP1200 (which was released on April 13, 2019 exclusively on vinyl (Record Store Day)[17] and released digitally on April 26, 2019[18] ), PeteStrumentals 3 (a continuation to 2001's PeteStrumentals and 2015's 2), Don't Smoke Rock 2 (also a continuation to Don't Smoke Rock) featuring Smoke DZA, and an album with rapper Skyzoo.[19]



Through the years, Rock has helped to jump-start the careers of several artists. His first project outside of Pete Rock & CL Smooth was the hardcore duo YG'z, who released an EP called Street Nigga in 1993, with four out of the six tracks produced by Rock; however, they were quickly dropped from their deal with Reprise Records. His next venture, INI, was a group featuring Rock, his younger brother Grap Luva, Ras G and rapper Rob-O. They released a single, "Fakin' Jax", through Elektra Records in 1995, before their debut album, Center of Attention, was shelved by the label. The other two members continue to record solo material, albeit only sporadically. In an interview Rock elaborated on the situation:

We finished the album, turned it into Elektra and they never put it out, they only put out a single. Sylvia [Rhone] really didn't cooperate, she didn't break bread with me when it came down to resolving that. It was all about her changing everything around. She wanted to change my whole sound. When she said, "You gotta make a beat like Puffy", I just knew it wasn't going to work out.[9]

Relationship with CL SmoothEdit

Since their split in 1995, Pete Rock's relationship with CL Smooth has been highly unpredictable. Although the pair briefly united for the reflective "Da Two" from Rock's Soul Survivor album in 1998, they avoided entertaining requests for a reunion album until 2001, when they once again teamed up for "Back on Da Block" from Rock's PeteStrumentals. In their interviews during this period, it appeared as though a new album was underway. As Rock would explain:

We've been on tour, we know every rhymer and producer in this business. We've influenced people, even people we've never met have said that we changed the face of hip-hop. So we're going to try to do some more.[9]

The pair went on a short international tour culminating in their well-received show at London's Jazz Cafe; however, soon after this they declined to comment any further on the new album, which never materialized (although Smooth did make three separate appearances on Soul Survivor II). Eventually, Smooth would confirm rumors of a rift in an interview with,[20] in which he appeared angry and frustrated with his former partner, saying "I didn’t ask him to be a superhero" and "I’m not the problem." In an interview taken in December 2006, Rock ruled out any further collaborations with Smooth but stated that he holds no grudges against his former partner.[21] He recently confirmed that he will be recording a third album with C.L. Smooth.

Musical styleEdit


An E-mu SP-1200 that Pete Rock used to create music and beats on one of his many early recordings.

Pete Rock builds his beats from samples, the majority of which are taken from obscure R&B, funk, and jazz records. Early on in his career he would also sample drum breaks such as Black Heat's "Zimba Ku" for Heavy D & The Boyz's "Letter To The Future". Pete Rock heavily used the E-mu SP-1200 as well as the AKAI [S950]—later moving onto using the MPC—for his productions. Pete Rock tends to use the samples as palettes for his beats, chopping (cutting the sample into smaller parts), filtering (altering the frequencies of the sample), and layering several samples, often within the same song. While this technique was applied long before Rock (on De La Soul's Three Feet High and Rising or the work of The Bomb Squad for example), Rock's work is distinctive for the way in which he uses samples to achieve a hazy, droning effect. He is also noted for his resonant basslines, horn samples, and gritty sounding drums. His beats often sound as though they were being played from an old vinyl record; he samples many of his sounds straight off these records.[22] He frequently recorded at Greene St. Recording in Manhattan, having liked the equalizer that was used there, which gave many of his productions a wah-wah effect.[23]

Another trait of his, more so in the earlier part of his career, is the way he uses horn samples to supplement his grooves. On "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)", Rock uses a horn sample from Tom Scott's "Today"; he has also used horns on "Straighten It Out", Public Enemy's "Shut 'Em Down", Rah Digga's "What They Call Me", and A.D.O.R.'s "Let It All Hang Out".

Along with Gang Starr, The Roots and A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock played a large role in the fusing of jazz and funk music into hip hop. The aforementioned "Reminisce..." withstanding, Rock used many jazz samples on his album Mecca and The Soul Brother, such as Cannonball Adderley's "Country Preacher", for the song "Return of the Mecca", or "Capricorn" for the song "In the House" from The Main Ingredient. Pete Rock's heavy use of intro and outro beats has also been widely influential. To introduce feature songs, he often plays a short instrumental excerpt, completely different from the rest of the song. Aside from their role as transitions, these are widely regarded as a way of displaying his large collection and as a challenge to other hip-hop producers to identify the records that the breaks come from.[24] Mecca & the Soul Brother and The Main Ingredient use intro/outro beats on nearly every track to great effect, and the tradition continues to the present on Rock's recent releases.


"Another Pete Rock Remix" is Pete Rock's trademark catchphrase, heard on countless singles that he has remixed. In addition to hip-hop artists he has done remix work for artists from other genres such as his 1995 remix of "Before You Walk Out Of My Life" for R&B singer Monica. In 1992 he collaborated with Mary J. Blige on the What's the 411? single "Reminisce," which utilized the same sample from his own single "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)". Rock claims to have done several high-profile remixes that remain unreleased, including one of Madonna's "Secret."[25] He also claims to have produced the original beat for The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Juicy" and that it was recreated by P. Diddy and Poke (of Tone & Poke fame), without consent. However, he was invited to produce the remix, which utilizes the same sample as the original—Mtume's "Juicy Fruit."[9] Although he received no official producer credit, he made the original demo beat for A Tribe Called Quest's "Jazz (We've Got)," which was then recreated by Q-Tip on the album The Low End Theory.[9] He remixed Public Enemy's "Shut 'em Down" and "Nighttrain" in the same day, starting at 12pm and finishing at 12am.[9]

Up until 2003, he created all of his productions on the E-mu SP-1200, thereafter using the AKAI MPC2000XL. He also has a collection of about 90,000 records and looks for records at least once a week.[9] Pete Rock was one of nine artists who participated in’s Remix Project, where he remixed the Sunny Side song “Magical Amount.”


Pete Rock has had a considerable impact on a number of record producers who have emerged in the hip hop scene since the late 1990s. Critics have favorably compared Detroit producer J Dilla and North Carolina's 9th Wonder to Rock; both of them worked with Rock during their recording careers. Several of the comparisons stem from the fact that these producers have created the bulk of their productions out of samples, as well as the warm, mellow, and exuberant undertones apparent in their work. Pete Rock himself has added validation to the comparisons with J Dilla by stating "he's the only producer in this game that was just as serious [as me]."[26]


Studio albums

Collaboration albums

Instrumental albums

Compilation albums


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ "Ab-Soul Says Pete Rock Co-Signed His "Soul Brother No. 2" Nickname". Cheri Media Group. Retrieved February 19, 2015.
  3. ^ Isenberg, Daniel. "In The Lab With Pete Rock". Complex Music. Archived from the original on September 10, 2015. Retrieved February 19, 2015.
  4. ^ "Pete Rock And Cl Smooth Biography". Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  5. ^ 2008 Pete Rock Enlisted As "NY's Finest" Retrieved January 31, 2008
  6. ^ Adaso, Henry. "Top 50 Hip-Hop Producers". p. 8.
  7. ^ Top 5 best hip-hop producers and WHY [supertalk archive] – superfuture :: supertalk Archived June 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Top 50 Greatest Producers In Hip Hop and Rap". January 25, 2007. Archived from the original on March 14, 2007. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Wax Poetic interview – Pete Rock –". February 12, 2004. Archived from the original on February 20, 2012. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  10. ^ Pete Rock. Nature Sounds. Accessed on November 24, 2010.
  11. ^ "'Good Ass Job' Marks Kanye West's Return to 'Real' Hip-Hop | Prefix". Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  12. ^ "Pete Rock, DJ Premier Working on an Album". Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  13. ^ [1] Archived December 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Camp Lo x Pete Rock release 80 Blocks From Tiffany's mixtape ahead of new LP | Free Download". SoulCulture. March 29, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  15. ^ "PodOmatic | Podcast - Conspiracy Worldwide Hip Hop Radio - [Part 2] *THE APRIL'S FOOLS GOLD SPECIAL* w/ live guests PETE ROCK - ZION I - THE GROUCH - LADY OF RAGE - MAYHEM LAUREN - ACTION BRONSON - CAMP LO - KEITH MURRAY - KOOL KEITH - METABEATS - THE CONTROVERSIAL KOOL KEITH "BETRAYAL" SONG and more!". April 2, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  16. ^ "PETEROCK.COM on Twitter: "Petestrumentals 2 top of 2015! Finished it last week. Now back to SS3 and maybe preemo pete rock lp can get finished too.Good food coming up"". Twitter. December 16, 2014. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  17. ^ "PETEROCK.COM on Twitter: "I'm a 90's cat. To me its important that we hold on to this music with our lives and teach what needs to be taught. I'm gonna start doing lectures on how I was able to maintain myself and my career dealing with the ups n downs of the music business. And origin life's story on what my come up was like in life and in music 🎶 its a great story full of inspiration which is what I feel young producers need today. If my story can help inspire producers to be great then to that's what you call king shit 👑 The Return Of The SP1200 Drops April 12th with a few old beats unused with a tad of familiar ones which an instrumental was never made or heard like the song "Death Becomes You" on the Menace 2 Society soundtrack. S/O to my guy former marvel artist @sanfordgreene who gave the album cover the marvel feel I wanted. And to my guy @rocktheknobs & @jrocc210 for participating making thangs complete 😁 💯🙌🏾⚡️☄️💥🌪🔥🎶🎉♥️ P.S. I will post the album cover soon and yall can tell me what ya think 🤷🏾♂️ ✌🏾i cant wait for real heads to hear this 👂🏾"". Twitter. March 14, 2019. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "PETEROCK.COM on Twitter: "And it starts 😃👍🏾💯 This will be my 1st release of 2019. The Return Of The SP1200 instrumental lp with beats from like 1990-97-98 i never used. The rejects or just beats that i never did nothing with. Gonna be variations of the way i do instrumental albums 😉 COMING SOON!!! All scratches and excerpts by the beat junkie himself @jrocc210 who has done a wonderful job 💪🏾🎶🎶🎶 people love good music.we love hip hop still,dont ever get it fucked up. DSR2 PRSB PETESTRUMENTALS 3 & NEW SKYZOO album Produced by Pete Rock COMING SOON! And alot more stay tuned. 😎💯❤️🔥💪🏾🚀🙌🏾🎆🎊🍾 HAPPY NEW YEAR 🥳 #peterock&thesoulbrothers"". Twitter. January 2, 2019. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  20. ^ [2] Archived April 22, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Pete Rock – 'Interview Pt. 1 (Live At – 12/5/06)'. YouTube, LLC. Retrieved on 2008-12-25.
  22. ^ YouTube – Pete Rock interview. YouTube, LLC. Retrieved on 2008-12-25.
  23. ^ Pete Rock: 'Real Could Be Another Word For Original' NPR. Accessed on December 12, 2017.
  24. ^ Making Beats: The Art of Sample-Based Hip Hop. p. 57 (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 0-8195-6696-9)
  25. ^ "Wax Poetic interview—Pete Rock—". February 12, 2004. Archived from the original on February 20, 2012. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  26. ^ "Interview with Pete Rock". Archived from the original on August 11, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  27. ^ Burgess, Omar (April 2, 2014). "Pete Rock Reveals EP Work With De La Soul & "Soul Survivor 3"". Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  28. ^ "PETEROCK.COM on Twitter: "And it starts 😃👍🏾💯 This will be my 1st release of 2019. The Return Of The SP1200 instrumental lp with beats from like 1990-97-98 i never used. The rejects or just beats that i never did nothing with. Gonna be variations of the way i do instrumental albums 😉 COMING SOON!!! All scratches and excerpts by the beat junkie himself @jrocc210 who has done a wonderful job 💪🏾🎶🎶🎶 people love good music.we love hip hop still,dont ever get it fucked up. DSR2 PRSB PETESTRUMENTALS 3 & NEW SKYZOO album Produced by Pete Rock COMING SOON! And alot more stay tuned. 😎💯❤️🔥💪🏾🚀🙌🏾🎆🎊🍾 HAPPY NEW YEAR 🥳 #peterock&thesoulbrothers"". Twitter. January 2, 2019. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  29. ^ "PETEROCK.COM on Twitter: "New Petestrumentals 3 coming soon featuring The Soul Brothers The Band playing over unheard beats 😃no samples and im wavin dat wand thing 😂😂😂😉 🎼🎼🎼🎹🎸🎺🎷🥁🎻 s/o @mononeon @officialmarcusmachado @darujones @bigyuki @jermaineholmes @rocktheknobs 😎 #music #dedidcation #passion #medicine #healing #hiphop #r&b #musicianship #peterockandthesoulbrothers #instrumentals #petestrumentals #soul #funk #jazz"". Twitter. October 11, 2019. Retrieved October 11, 2019.

External linksEdit