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’idArticles, Beatmaking, BeatTips Editorial, DJ Premier, Editor's Choice, Pete Rock, Themes, Theories, and Concepts