Pete Rock began rhyming on his debut EP All Souled Out, most notably on the single “The Creator” (Editor’s Note: legend is he got help from Grand Puba) and he decided to interject verses in his projects from then on as he gained more confidence in his capabilities as an MC. This was a crucial element in Soul Survivor as Pete not only managed to get great performances out of some of the best MC’s in the rap game but he also showed off his versatility in crafting tracks for R&B singers like Vinia Mojica (“Mind Blowin'” ) and Miss Jones (“Soul Survivor”) to shine on the hooks. One of his all-time favorite groups Loose Ends, also submitted a gem in “Take Your Time” that became the album’s highest charting single.
The fact that Pete Rock effortlessly carried these tracks as the lead MC and they stood strong next to the more heralded heaters on this album is a testament to the overall greatness of the final product.
Soul Survivor stands out in the memories of those that heard it 15 years ago because Pete Rock managed to craft sonic blueprints for some of the best lyricists in Hip-Hop (at the time) to completely blackout on. Whether we’re talking about Ghostface Killah’s epic third verse on “The Game,” Black Thought’s opening verse on “It’s About That Time,” Big Punisher and Common’s game of lyrical oneupmanship on “Verbal Murder 2” or that haunting production on “Strange Fruit”–punctuated by one of Sticky Fingaz’ most notable verses of his career.
The spirit of what Pete Rock was able to do with his landmark remixes in the early 90s had translated perfectly into 1998. He was able to bring the best out of the artists he worked with which is the hallmark of a great producer.
This oft-overlooked influential album also featured Pete Rock hanging with Method Man on one of the best vocal appearances of his career over an incredible SP-1200 gem produced by Grap Luva called “Half Man, Half Amazin’.” A straight forward jam with hard drums called “Respect Mine” featuring O.C. of D.I.T.C. was just one of many great tracks on Soul Survivor but at the time, rap of this ilk was no longer on the radio.
Commericial radio was almost devoid of samples, scratched hooks or hard drums. So while Pete Rock was putting together an album heads would truly appreciate, it was at a period when Hip-Hop fans were heading underground like the Morlocks.
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