PeteStrumentals follows Jay Dee's Welcome 2 Detroit as the second offering in BBE's producer spotlight "Beat Generation" series. If you approach Pete Rock's joint as a song-oriented pop album, you may feel disappointed. Only two tracks ("Cake" and "Nothin' Lesser - Jamie's Mix") feature MCs and the repetitive, consistently mid-tempo beats get somewhat monotonous by the end of most tracks. If you approach the album as a radical work of sonic architecture, you may also feel disappointed, since Rock's relatively old-school sensibility isn't likely to make you hear music in a completely new way. But if you approach PeteStrumentals on its own terms -- as a laid-back collection of atmospheric beats ideal for late-night chilling or freestyling over -- then you may enjoy Pete Rock's soulful funk-jazz grooves, which are first rate for this type of recording. The deep bass and whispered "play back" vocal sample on "For the People," jazzy piano loop on "Hip Hopcrisy," big-band sax on "Smooth Sailing," layered horns and vibes on "Pete's Jazz," and strings on "Give It to Y'all" (as well as the scratching that starts about two minutes into the song) all fit together to form a first-rate instrumental joint. The MC tracks with Rock Marciano, Divine, Godfree, and Laku are located near the end of the album; this makes them seem almost like bonus tracks, or perhaps a late attempt to ensure that the listener hasn't nodded off, but they still fit fine in the overall flow of PeteStrumentals.
by Todd Kristel