Pete Rock: Soul Survivor

pete rock first solo album cover

I remember when people first started asking what was Pete Rock doing. He’d (Pete Rock) produce a track here and there for some underground dudes and he also did some work with Rakim on his comeback album but nothing on a regular level like Premier. Then it seemed like out of the blue you were looking at Rap City and bam Pete Rock with Kurupt and Inspecktah Deck are in these NASCAR type rides in what looked more like a placement run ( I know a bit about NASCAR thanks to a homie). The beat was typical Pete rock but with a bit of a twist to it. Add that to the fact the second verse was where Pete Spit a nice 16 and a classic was made. Between “Tru Master” and “Half Man Half Amazin” with Method Man the game was about to get some treats from the Chocolate Boy Wonder. To put things in context of how much someone like Pete Rock was needed, besides Gangstarr dropping Moment of Truth 98 was starting out as Master P’s year. That was around the time he signed with Universal and No limit had no limits, them dudes and Mia X were every fucking where. I liked Mia X and thought Souljah Slim was sick a lil bit but the rest were ass and they got more shine the two I did like.

 Anyway Pete Rock drops Soul Survivor on Loud Records and after releasing Pun and those Funk Flex 60 minute joints it looked like Loud was making moves. I remember getting this album Friday because it didn’t show up Tuesday. By time I got off work and went to get the shit there was only three left. Mad DJs who didn’t shit in the mail were aiming at this album, it was Pete Rocks’ first solo album and the man had been gone for like four or five years. My only complaint about the album is that it had a few too many hot at the time dudes on it and it went out really soft. Side C (Album) was all slow and R&B-ish while Side A was damn near flawless. Anyway shit still is a classic so much so that the two albums after (Soul Survivor Two and NY Finest) are considered disappointments to many people.

So when the album starts it’s Pete talking. I really didn’t know what he was saying other than saying a few names when I first heard it and since I had the album I just went to the second song. So with “Tru Master” being the illest way to set shit off you get to hear Deck just kill shit with a verse filled with nothing but quotables. I still have no idea what the hell Kurupt was saying and I got the single with the accapella and didn’t figure out what he was talking about. His style makes it all good he could say the alphabet with his style and you’d think he was saying some other shit. I love those beats that play after each song. Next we get Meth and Pete man handling a basic as fuck but still too ill to ignore on “Half Man Half Amazin”. Listening now I want to say that Pete may have used the same sample Rza used for “M.E.T.H.O.D Man”. I don’t go to those sample snitching sites so I may be wrong if so it was just a thought. I swear this album could be a Pete Rock and Wu collaboration album. As seen as the next song come in you the famous Raekwon line “Yo brother respect mine.” for the song of almost the same name(“Respect Mine”). OC who also has a voice and style that makes anything sound iller than it may really be is the add on to this joint. It’s funny how drums and the fact Pete Rock adds baselines to his beats make the difference between Pete Rock and DJ Premier beats. I swear “Respect Mine” sample with the bells and phone ring is some Primo shit he was making at that time but the drums make it PR all day. Now the straight highlight of this album and truly what made you want to hear PR and Wu connect is “Tha Game”. Hearing Prodigy on his A game adds a nice piece of thuggin to the song. But it really is all Rae and Ghost, you could take the other two verses (Prodigy and Pete Rock who has the last verse?) out and leave Ghost and Rae and it will still be straight jacket cotton room crazy.

I remember the first time I heard “#1 Soul Brother” and just thought this sounds almost like ‘The Saga Begins” off the Rakim album but way better. It’s the time PR really does his thing on rhyme tip. That beat and cuts in the hook make it even better. I swear this is one of my personal favorite PR beats cause it’s simple and still so nasty. “Rock Steady 2” is a truly some lesson in session shit. The beat and the hook it old school like a motherfucker. Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz who took the game by storm with thier underground classic turned Steely Dan pay day (find the name) shows up. They were hot for the moment and the vibe was cool but the song sucked. Another old school joint that hit the spot was “Truly Yours 98” where Large Pro killed it even harder than G. Rap. It’s funny this is one of the better G. Rap featured song because Pete and Large Pro didn’t try to out “G. Rap” G. Rap, they just did them. I love the slick (Dj) Clue diss Pete Rock through out there. Again I think Large Pro killed it even though G. Rap went apes on it like he did back in the days. ‘It’s About that Time” with Rob-O and Black Thought is too long and boring so it’s time to put the next record on.

Now alot of people didn’t know how to ride with MC Eith showing up on this album. The beat was sooooo smooth that someone as cool and laid back with his flow like Eith could do nothing but kill it. While Eith sounds at home PR seem to speed up then slow down never finding his pace. “One Life To Live” was also Eith showing Hip Hop is what it is by going through some east coast titles, this is post Pac and Biggie death and everyone was trying to show love extra hard. “Take Your Time” Showed some love to Loose Ends. As smooth and ill the beat was the fact other Loose Ends no one else is on here with Pete Rock. This was single so it was cool to hear Pete do all the verses in that sense. Still it could have been where Common could have showed up instead of on the track he did get on. Then comes a love story song “Mind Blowin”, hmmmm? NEXT! The title track which gave Miss Jones time to shine again is next. So from what I’m noticing the two times I did hear Miss Jones do anything it was over a Pete Rock beat that was on a Loud Records record (the other was the Big L joint “Holdin It Down” Pete Rock produced). Was she signed to Loud or some shit?

The not so hot but good to hear for nastylcha purposes is “Da Two”. To me this was like the LONS (Leader Of The New School) track Keep It Moving on Busta first album. It wasn’t needed but the fans may have wanted it. That sparked rumors the two were going start working on some shit and they did but nothing really from it but a few singles. “Verbal Murder 2” has Common, Pun and Nore on it? Who thought adding Common would be good? And Com even got the last verse which sounds like it was either pre Tekzilla or post joint on Kid Capri album with Az and Allure, it was the same verse by the way for those who have heard both songs. In the end his verse was typical Common it just didn’t fit with Pun and Nore. Then “Strange Fruit” with such a ill horror film type beat comes on with Tragedy killing shit. Cappadonna and Sticky Fingaz show up too but could never really catch up with Tragedy on here. The albums end with Pete Rock Cousin Heavy D and Beenie Man and it ends with Reggae? Yes it did, WTF? To be honest as ill as Common verse is on Verbal Murder 2 and Tragedy kills “Strange Fruit” I really never played Side D.

That brings me to the point that like I said after Side A of the album shit becomes hit and miss. The beats of course are the gems on here and it was good to here Pete Rock beats and a host of artists come through to do their thing. This is an classic that as time goes by more of the songs don’t hold up well. It still help shift the game back to “real” Hip Hop during a time when Diddy and Master P were running almost everything. Really, no lie even the Aftermath shit released during that time was called a flop so much so he erased it from his mind. Would I tell people to buy Soul Survivor? Hell yeah Pete rock showed he still had it and he could connect with anyone and make it some ill shit, mostly Wu Tang dudes though.  .

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