A hip-hop duo seemingly destined for success, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth never broke through into the rap mainstream, despite plenty of charting singles and a classic LP, Mecca and the Soul Brother. Rhino's 2003 compilation reveals the pair's career as one of the finest in hip-hop, no less impressive for only releasing two full-length albums. Both Mecca and the Soul Brother and its hotly hyped follow-up, The Main Ingredient, benefited from a lot of quality material (so much, in fact, that a wiser act may have saved some for a third album). Nevertheless, the duo's best singles -- "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)," "Straighten It Out," "Lots of Lovin" -- were hard but intelligent, delivered with tight raps from C.L. Smooth over breezily swinging productions from Pete Rock, one of hip-hop's best trackmasters. Clever compiling makes this disc even more impressive: Included are three tracks from their debut EP, All Souled Out, as well as contributions to the soundtracks for Poetic Justice and Menace II Society.
AllMusic Review by John Bush