Pete Rock is one of the all-time greatest producers in the Hip Hop culture. With a music career that spans over 35 years, his production catalogue is overly extensive and impressive. The Mount Vernon native has worked with iconic artists such as Wu Tang Clan, Prodigy, Busta Rhymes, Rakim and MUCH more (too many to name). Initially known for the smash hit single “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.) with CL Smooth that debut in 1992, Pete Rock later solidified his status as solo artist slash producer with albums like “Soul Survivor” and “PeteStrumentals”. He has constantly been a solid pillar in the Hip Hop community and has set the blueprint for many producers that has come after him and many more that will come in the future.
Pete Rock sat down with Industry Rules to discuss the past, present and future of his extraordinary career:
EB: COVID-19 has had a harsh effect on all industries, including the music industry. Did you anticipate that the virus would be so devastating?
PR: When I saw so many people suffering because of the pandemic and how it changed the landscape of our thinking as a society regarding hygiene and other things, it was quite astonishing. We went from not ever wearing masks to wearing them every day. At this point, it looks like we will have to get used to all these changes which is now our everyday norm.
EB: Your career is well documented and your contribution to the culture is noteworthy. For those who don’t know, can you let our audience know how you got started in the music industry?
PR: I got started through my cousin Heavy D. He was a very talented person. He had a great a career. He had me with him from the very beginning. We worked closely together in everything. I met a lot of people through him. He was one of a kind (R.I.P. Heavy D).
EB: You’ve produced music for a variety of artists and talents. Can you recall one your most memorable collaborations?
PR: Run DMC and Heavy D [quickly comes to mind]. It’s hard! I have collaborated with so many great individuals, it’s hard to choose [just one].
EB: Throughout the years, who’s been your biggest critic? And what did you take away from their criticism?
PR: I believe I’m my hardest critic. I can be the worse on myself. I may think something isn’t right while others might think it is [brilliant]. I have high standards for myself. I can be very hard on myself. Overtime, I had to grow out of that somewhat and I realized how confidence works for me.
EB: When you compose music, what are some of the key steps you take in making an instrumental?
PR: It’s really all in thought. We are all blessed with different talents. For me, I’ve been a human sponge. I’m a quick learner and I absorb everything. I just need to see something one or two times and I got it.
EB: Hip Hop music has always had a level of competition. Can you name some producers that ultimately brought out the best in your creativity?
PR: J Dilla, Alchemist, Vitamin D, Premier, Havoc of Mobb Depp [are all inspirational]. There’s so many. Even the newer ones like Kanye West, The Justice League and 9th Wonder [are inspiring]. There are so many producers that I listen to daily that inspire me.
EB: What changes would you implement to the make the music industry better?
PR: Honestly, taking the music and your fans seriously is extremely important. [It’s always good] to focus on originality when you’re making music, but having a great personality, and being a good person is key. That all plays out in part in wanting a better industry [for everyone].
EB: How have you evolve to stand the test of times?
PR: I have listened to a lot of music regardless of if I liked it or not. I listen to what is playing at the moment and what is being done in today’s music culture. It’s basically doing homework. You have to keep your ear to the streets. That’s how I’m able keep relevant. I’m also very in tuned with what the fans say. I truly value their feedback.
EB: What advice would you give to an inspiring producer who’s searching for his/her distinctive sound?
PR: To never quit! Always be passionate about what you want in music like I was. It will all work out for you, but your heart has to be in it for real. I believe in making special connections with people that believe in you and want to see you make it.
EB: How would you sum up your music career?
PR: Pretty awesome! I think it’s awesome when you connect with your inner fan base. The response that I get after I drop an instrumental album that I’m producing for an artist. It blows my mind when I see how many people like my beats. Not everyone is going to like your music, but I always try my best to get at least 75% of the audience to like my music. That’s key for me.
You can continue to follow Pete Rock’s journey on Instagram @RealPeteRock.