March 30, 2015

Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth - Mecca & The Soul Brother (1992)

Pete Rock was one of the most dominant producers in New York for a while and seemed to be touching everybody's music directly and indirectly. Golden age hip hop fans with the best taste will say without hesitation that Mecca & The Soul Brother is Pete Rock's magnum opus. The rapping on here is done by a guy pretty much only known for his work in this partnership, C.L. Smooth. He is very technical and primarily focuses on making everything sound good for the beats.

Perfectly metered rhymes and deftly calculated wordplay were the thing at this point in the 90s and besides C.L. Smooth, Guru, Kane, and Nas are other good examples. When I first started seriously getting into music, I thought Mecca & The Soul Brother should be one of my top five favorite albums in the genre based off of memorable beats and the sheer skill of C.L. on the mic. The more I listened, however, the more the album just didn't stick with me and I realized that with all the focus on alliteration and stunning displays of rhythm and pace, C.L. (and Pete Rock when he raps) forgets to relate his already pretty inoffensive lyrics to anything of much substance. Sure, Scarface and Bushwick aren't the prettiest sounding rappers, but most of the time I'd want listen to their gut-wrenching stories of paranoia and controversial assaults on politics over this.

Ok Ok Ok by now you're saying, "Otto why are you comparing Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth to Geto Boys? And you're an idiot because this album is funky dope". I get that, but it was the first comparison I thought of to help me in explaining a hole in Mecca & The Soul Brother that prevents me from calling this a favorite. Maybe I am an idiot for not taking what C.L. gives me as what it is and enjoying it for the aesthetic of a slick, late-night, funky fun. When I take a step back, I realize that this is a great album for that reason alone and without a doubt an East coast essential.


Mecca & The Soul Brother