Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth - Mecca And The Soul Brother 2xLP - Clear Vinyl


Elektra / Get On Down (2016, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for 25+ years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

I was so completely on board with this record when it came out in 1992.  The single "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)" was on non stop repeat on Yo MTV Raps.  With its jazzy horn hook, laid back groove and dynamite lyrical flow, it was one of those songs that resonated with the underground while still bubbling up to infect some mainstream outlets.  It's a great song, but you have to understand how much it got played back then.  It was played a lot.  To the point that it actually started to get a little annoying.  Even nearly 30 years later, while I appreciate it as a great song, I don't really need to hear it that much.  I had my share in 92 and 93.

But the good news is that the rest of this album is every bit as strong as its most famous single, with the added bonus of not having been played into the ground.  Right from the opener "Return of the Mecca," you know the sort of journey you'll be on throughout the album.  Jazzy, soulful beats that don't necessarily sound like Tribe Called Quest, but live in the same general area.  Mid tempo without sounding sleepy and forceful without sounding comically aggressive.

Another track I want to highlight is "It's Like That."  It stands out as being a little different with the scratchy washboard percussion mixed in with the bass and horn loop, but still fits in perfectly with the rest of the album.  C.L. really showcases a faster delivery here, laying down a flawless flow that makes you wonder why he isn't a bit more lauded as one of the great MCs of the era.  Listening to Mecca and the Soul Brother in 2020 doesn't feel like a throwback to me.  This doesn't sound like old music.  While this sort of hip hop isn't what is popular these days, to me it sounds as fresh and innovative as ever.  Though that just might be me getting old...

Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth - Mecca and the Soul Brother (Youtube full album stream):

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