June 18, 2007

Pete Rock - Soul Survivor (November 10, 1998)


Moving on from the 50 Cents of the rap world, I present to you one Peter "Pete Rock" Phillips, who is better known as one-half of the dynamic duo Pete Rock & CL Smooth.

The critically acclaimed duo rose to prominence in the early 1990's, with an EP and two full-length albums that sounded great but sold probably twelve copies combined. Back in the day, however, hip hop greatness wasn't measured by chart dominance, which is why Pete Rock still has a viable career today. He is considered to be one of the greatest hip hop producers ever. Seriously. Ever. Most of my two readers won't fight me on that fact.

Soul Survivor was released a few years after Pete Rock and CL Smooth disbanded, much to the chagrin to the hip hop community, since most fans believed that each man brought out the best in the other. Desperate to change public opinion, Pete Rock released his "solo" debut on the mighty Loud Records in 1998. I put the word "solo" in quotations, since this album really acts more like a sampler of what rap artists were hot in 1998, with Pete providing the background treats and the guest vocals on his own songs. While the record went on to sell zero copies, Pete Rock's legacy had already been established, and a loyal fanbase who would later write about his work in online hip hop blogs would soon flourish.

1. SOUL SURVIVOR (INTRO)
Even hip hop legends can't live without their rap album intros.

2. TRU MASTER (FEAT INSPECTAH DECK & KURUPT)
Most people complained that the beat sounded too close to Primo for comfort. I was not one of those people. I fell in the camp who believed that Kurupt was severely out of place on this song.

3. HALF MAN HALF AMAZIN (FEAT METHOD MAN)
Meth would sound hungrier on a guest spot than he would on his own fucking album...

4. RESPECT MINE (FEAT O.C.)
This hasn't happened in a while. Three songs in a row, that are all enjoyable? Unheard of in 2007!

5. THA GAME (FEAT RAEKWON, GHOSTFACE KILLAH, & PRODIGY)
The song that probably cemented Pete's association with the Wu-Tang Clan, even though his contributions wouldn't start until 2006 (see Fishscale and Made In Brooklyn; I'm choosing to ignore Immobilarity). Oh, and Prodigy's here, too.

6. #1 SOUL BROTHER
The lone solo shot. Pete Rock has always been a better producer than rapper, but this song doesn't suck.

7. ROCK STEADY, PART II (FEAT LORD TARIQ & PETER GUNZ)
As I wrote before, this album was a sampler of who was hot in 1998. Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz supposedly qualify for that distinction off their success with that lame-ass "Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)" song that approximately nobody remembers. This song sucks, but it's unfair to blame Pete, since the guests are wack. (Did we still say wack in 1998?)

8. TRULY YOURS '98 (FEAT LARGE PROFESSOR & KOOL G RAP)
I'm pretty sure that the same people that leave comments questioning why I posted a review of Curtis Jackson's The Massacre will have absolutely no idea who Kool G Rap is. That's a damn shame.

9. IT'S ABOUT THAT TIME (FEAT BLACK THOUGHT & ROB-O)
Black Thought (from The Roots) is one of my favorite emcees, but this song is really boring.

10. ONE LIFE TO LIVE (FEAT MC EIHT)
I'm not the biggest fan of MC Eiht (I mentioned this on the Soul Assassins review from waaay back in March), but damned if he doesn't sound good over some quality production.

11. TAKE YOUR TIME (FEAT LOOSE ENDS)
We've come to the R&B stops on this ride, as Pete Rock attempts to prove he can do more than produce good rap records. Here, he succeeds.

12. MIND BLOWIN' (FEAT VINIA MOJICA)
Not the biggest fan of the guest, but I like the jazzy sounds provided here.

13. SOUL SURVIVOR (FEAT MISS JONES)
It's a scientifically proven fact: one out of every four hip hop albums has a title track. I decided to type that phony factoid as I can't come up with anything to say about the song; it's that forgettable.

14. DA TWO (FEAT CL SMOOTH)
I'm pretty sure that this one song was the reason anyone would have bought this CD. Taken as such, it's a damn good song, as this song fucking rocks. Best song on here by far. Pete and CL really do work well together! Too bad about the eventually re-falling out, though...

15. VERBAL MURDER 2 (FEAT BIG PUNISHER, NOREAGA, & COMMON)
(Performed in a singsong voice) One of these guests is not like the other...

16. STRANGE FRUIT (FEAT TRAGEDY KHADAFI, CAPPADONNA, & STICKY FINGAZ)
If you ignore Cappadonna's weak verse, you'll find this song to be awesome. Somewhere on the net is the original version which was just a duet between Pete and Tragedy. Anyone have info about that song?

17. MASSIVE (HOLD TIGHT) (FEAT HEAVY D & BEENIE MAN)
Since it's mandatory that a rapper include his family somewhere in the recording process, Pete gives us this weak-as-shit song featuring his cousin, Heavy D. Too bad it's not any good.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Soul Survivor still holds up today, better than most albums of the era would, due mainly to it's timeless production, which sounded like it was already five years old when it originally came out. Save for a couple of weak songs and some questionable guest stars, this was one of the more enjoyable reviews I've written in a while. Also serves as a good time capsule of 1998 hip hop, and, if pressed, can also be used as a handheld mirror.

BUY OR BURN? Buy this shit. It's cheap, trust me. Nobody bought it the first time around. Don't make that mistake again.

BEST TRACKS: "Da Two"; "Strange Fruit"; "Tha Game"

(Don't agree with the above review? I don't see why you wouldn't, but if that's the case, leave some comments below!)

-Max

14 comments:

  1. Hey, cool site! I've been cruising blogs getting ideas for mine, i enjoyed yours thanks! will be back!!

    kennyo
    http://mysportpicks.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Max,

    Of course, I love this album. Interestingly, when I first bought it when it originally came out I actually RETURNED it... the 17 year old version of me didn't quite realise what I had my hands on. Shameful I know, but as my reputation grows as a PR maniac I think I've made amends.

    Keep on.

    Dan

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  3. AnonymousJune 19, 2007

    This is a great album, no question. Whatever happened to Soul Survivor II. I think I've heard tracks off of it but I can't find it on the internet so it must not exsist. Anybody know about this?

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  4. The Most Felonious Vocalist In The Wide World Of Show BusinessJune 20, 2007

    Soul Survivor II can be found by clicking on the link to buy Soul Survivor from Amazon. I suggest everyone buy both CD's and a bag of the lethal. Then call out sick and welcome Pete to your list of favorite producers.

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  5. A fucking hiphop classic!!! A definite buy. How could you forget the unbelievable dope interlude beats?!!!And Vinia Mojica is wonderful. The fact that he got the original members of Loose Ends on a track together is just beyond comprehension. Soul Survivor 2 is so wack it shouldnt even be named that. Why wasnt there an instrumental album to this? There was for Mecca, Main, SS2, and NYFinest. Disappointed at that.

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  6. I bought Soul Survivor when I was living in NYC in 1999. It was the only good tape I had with me in Japan for a year. I listened to it to and from work every day and never got tired of it. I recently pulled it out again and have been doing the same thing again for a few weeks. It really is a time capsule. Big Pun, Peter Gunz, Lord Tariq, Noriega... those voices remind me of the city when I was there. You know what, I never knew that was Heavy D on the last track. Weird.

    I like your reviews, man. I plan to read more.

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  7. since i cant afford to buy a whole album,i downloaded the whole album,your right this album is fucking tight

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  8. hey men i have some questions you are writing about Soul Survivor 2 that wack album instead of Pete Rock & C.L Smooth The Main Ingredient whats up with that men thats a way better album wy dont you wright about that?? he??

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  9. I see you have good taste in hip-hop... First off, i think massive was a great way to end the album, with the hip-hop style of reaggae one of my favorite genres, as well as pete rock proving he can produce a good raeggae beat. Also, I like the inclusion of kurupt was good in tru master, as it shows 2 very underrated mcs in him and deck. While I agree that deck has more talent (I'm a big Wu-tang head), kurupt's verse flows nicely with the song. It's about that time was a great song, though it didn't have any crazy punch lines, it was a cool beat with good flows. I also like the inclusion of Common in Verbal Murder 2, because it shows that he's not a one-dimensional rapper, and shows that he could roll with the big boys (if anything, I didn't really like Noreaga's verse). And finally, while Da 2 was a great song, I don't think any song on this album can compare with half man half amazing, and I agree that Meth doesn't go this hard on his solos, but u can't front he goes in in all wu tang albums

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    Replies
    1. While I agree with you in that Massive was tight, I agree with Max on the undisputed fact that Da Two is the best song on this album, by far.

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  10. Fresh!!!

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  11. AnonymousMay 16, 2015

    This album should've been a Pete Rock & CL Smooth album. Imagine if it was CL that was spitting with The Wu, OC, Pun, Prodigy, Tragedy, Sticky Fingaz, etc. A hip hop wet dream, I tell ya.

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  12. Hello I Bought This Album in 98 after I Read The Source Review-Which Was 3 and a Half Mics. i Thought It Should of Had an Extra Mic After I Listened To The Album Quite a Few Times.

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