DJ Premier VS Pete Rock

By Anton Constantinou

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Flashback Fridays celebrates everything old skool and timeless about hip hop: classic tracks,  vintage flicks, past gigs. Each week we’ll be diggin’ in the crates to bring you the best throwback’s on offer.

In the battle for greatest hip hop producer of all time, Pete Rock and DJ Premier are head and shoulders above the rest. Between them they’ve worked with just about every rapper in the game; remixed tracks for some of the biggest artists of the modern age; and, over the last two decades, put out some of the tightest beats known to man. These aren’t just record producers, they’re craftsman: with distinctive styles that instantly set them apart from others in the business.

Rock’s work is warm, soulful, jazzy sounding.  His approach to producing has long been to build beats from samples: chopping up old RnB, funk and soul records into smaller parts before later re-layering them. Sampling in this way has allowed Rock to achieve a fuzzy, droning effect on most of his instrumentals- not too dissimilar to crackling from an old vinyl. Historically, he’s relied heavily on drum machines like E-mu SP-1200 and AKAI S950 for his productions. These days he mainly use an MPC. The key ingredients for just about every Rock beat are: deep basslines, horn samples and gritty sounding drums. If ain’t funky or staticky  sounding it ain’t a Rock jam.

Premier too has reputation for sampling funk, soul and jazz artists. Only difference is, his discography is decidedly more rough on the ear. He epitomizes that raw New York sound, typified by the likes of Nas, Group Home, Gangstarr and Jeru the Damaja: thumping bass, dark piano stabs, lots of scratching. At the same time though, Premier’s beats are hugely varied. Rather than sticking to a particular style as Rock does, Premier crafts beats to suit the mood of the song- whether that be a simple string and snare arrangement, an electro-acoustic composition or straight boom bap grit. Where Rock leads on the drums, Premier provides more subtler melodies and lets the rapper carry the beat.

Ironically though, despite their differences both producers are famous for their jazz rap collobrations. Rock for his parternship with CL Smooth; Premier for his world famous stuff with the late Guru (Gangstarr). Quite frankly, we could bang on all day about the great contributions these guys have made, but instead we’re gonna cut it short and let their music do the talking.

In descending order, here are the top 10 records from Rock and Premier:

Pete Rock

10.) MC Lyte, Bahamadia, Nonchalant & Yo-Yo – Keep On Pushin’

9.) Public Enemy- Shut Em Down (Pete Rock Remix)

8.) Pete Rock Ft Inspectah Deck & Kurupt- Tru Master

7.)  InI- Centre of Attention

6.)  AZ- Gimme Yours

5.) Pete Rock & CL Smooth- Take You There

4.)  Jeru The Damaja- Can’t Stop The Prophet (Pete Rock Remix)

3.) Nas- The World is Yours

2.)  Das Efx- Real Hip Hop (Pete Rock Remix)

1.) Pete Rock & CL Smooth They Reminisce Over You

DJ Premier

10.) Big L- The Enemy

9.) Jay Z- Bring It On

8.) AZ- The Format

7.) Gangstarr- Code of the Streets

6.) Group Home- Supa Star

5.)  Notorious Big- Unbelievable

4.) Crooklyn Dodgers ’95- Return Of The Crooklyn Dodgers

3.) KRS One- Mc’s Act Like They Don’t Know

2.) Nas- New York State of Mind

1.) Gangstarr- Mass Appeal

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