Published Jun 23, 2015It's been almost 15 years since Pete Rock released the original Petestrumentals album on BBE records back in 2001, and listening to this long-gestating follow-up, it would appear that not a whole lot has changed in the interim. That's not to discount the potency or worthiness of the project, but as one of the best hip-hop producers of all time, Pete Rock not only stayed in his lane, he'd already dug it up and paved it himself; he's entitled to stay in it.
While Pete Rock's presence is nowhere near as omnipresent as it was in the mid '90s, his influence still crops at seminal moments; earlier this year, his services were called on to bless Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly. Petestrumentals 2 underlines why the producer has remained relevant over the years. His enduring formula for culling the best parts of dusty, obscure soul and funk records and polishing them up with intricately layered brassy arrangements is a deceptively simple, yet timeless recipe. Highlights of this approach come to the fore on tracks like the James Brown-fuelled "PR for Prez," and the Rose Royce flip on "I Wish" deserves an honourable mention.
But while his source material is firmly rooted in the past, Petestrumentals 2 makes a couple of more contemporary statements. "Dilla Bounce (R.I.P.)" pays tribute to the late J Dilla, who was a clear sonic descendant of Rock's, nodding to his off-beat approach, and the 34-second interlude "Justice (Brotherhood & Understanding)" uses archival dialogue to make a sobering commentary that could be applied to today's headlines, reaffirming that Pete Rock still has something to say. (Mello Music Group)