Pete Rock

Pete Rock

"I’d have to say the number one influence was James Brown. The real Soul Brother Number One..." Pete Rock

While many recognize Pete Rock's as one half of the duo Pete Rock & CL Smooth, he is recognized as one of Hip-Hop's legendary producers. His methodical approach to the crafting of records and his use of samples are all part of his distinguished career.

Photo of Pete Rock at Howard Theatre, July 2013. Courtesy of Violetta Markelou.

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As a pioneer of Hip-Hop, who would you say your major influencers were?

Pete Rock:  I’d have to say the number one influence was James Brown - the real Soul Brother Number One... and my dad, of course. He had a musical ear, collected great records and was a DJ. So those two inspired me. Of course there were more. I listened to a lot of jazz and soul. I got into other things like electro, electronic music… folk and psych and certain hard rock. Everything.


How [have your many collaborations] changed the way you think about Hip-Hop or influenced the way you produce music?

Pete Rock:  [They] influence the way I produce music because of where I’m from. I’m a New York based-person. I’m from The Bronx / Mount Vernon, New York and I think I just take on that aura when I’m in the studio. Anytime I’m abroad or anywhere, anything that I see may inspire me to make some type of music. That’s how it works with me. That’s basically how I do what I do in the studio.


Since you’ve started your career, how was technology and the internet has changed [how you make music]?

Pete Rock: It is what it is… I work with Serato [digital DJ software] now. It’s the times. You got to be able to switch with the times and get good with what they have to offer. I’m preferably an analog guy. I’m not too digital, but I’m learning it. I’m pretty good with it.


Do you think Youtube has changed Hip-Hop at all?

Pete Rock: In a sense. I like the fact that they dig up so much old and rare [music], and some things that you've never ever seen in your life, or heard. How they get their hands on certain things, I have no idea. I look to it as a "go to" type of thing to get an idea or find something that someone released.


Where do you see Hip-Hop going in 40 years and where would you like to see it go?

Pete Rock: I would like to hear more realistic music as far as the sounds people are using - something more real. It doesn’t always have to include sampling, but that raw sound of Hip-Hop. You always have to keep some sort of that element in your music. We kind of need more of that. 

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