Why is Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth’s Mecca and the Soul Brother on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
Old school hip hop with flavors of A Tribe Called Quest and Digable Planets, and that’s just sweet.
What does Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth’s Mecca and the Soul Brother mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
“For Pete’s Sake” (get it?) is my favorite song on Mecca and the Soul Brother. A little bit strangely, the first 30 seconds or so are something of an interstitial piece, but it’s so casual and relaxed (at least on the surface, the craft is abundantly apparent throughout) that it feels like you’re at a great house party and it’s an effective mood setter. Then the song proper kicks off, and it’s a masterpiece of jazz samples, hip hop beats, and smooth old school hip hop flow that I’d be perfectly content to play on loop all day long.
I might be crazy, but I also think there’s a little bit of the Talking Head’s “Once in a Lifetime” being sampled in there!
Via Spotify, “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” is by far the most popular song on the album, with over 47 million streams, and indeed the saxophone riff might make you reminisce about old times if you’re a hip hop fan of a certain age. This song showcases how smooth these guys are – everything just glides (seemingly!) effortlessly and can’t help but propel me to head bob a little bit when this plays through my headphones.
This album also sounds like
I’d say this album falls pretty cleanly between the style(s) of A Tribe Called Quest and Digable Planets. Which is a sweet spot to occupy in my arguably humble opinion.
Personal stuff that’s somehow related to Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth’s Mecca and the Soul Brother
When I was on break from college and back at home on Long Island, I’d take the Long Island Rail Road into New York City as often as possible and crash at my good friend Adam’s place in Manhattan. His dad and step-mom moved around a bit, but by far my favorite spot was an incredible loft located in SoHo.
In my recollection, it had super high ceilings, some of the rooms didn’t have real doors (curtains maybe?), and there was the coolest art adorning the walls that appealed to me greatly. For example, there were enormous slabs that formed chalkboards, and on them were chalk sketches mapping out Pangea, or what the Earth looked like millions of years ago. My favorite though was a pop art installation that featured lunch boxes from the 1960s and 1970s, which showcased classic TV shows like Flipper and Star Trek and Gilligan’s Island. This to me was the height of coolness.
More importantly, having a headquarters in SoHo provided amazing access to lower Manhattan neighborhoods ranging from the meatpacking district (then mostly a gritty industrial neighborhood that featured some out-of-the-way dives) to the East Village.
Our entire modus operandi was figuring out where to go to see music performed at night (with a side of the possibility of meeting girls at the targeted venue). By day, we’d get coffee and bagels, walk around the city, and inevitably grab a Village Voice to check out the local scene. Funk and alt rock bands were big around that time, and some of our favorite venues to see them included the Lion’s Den, The Mercury Lounge, and particularly the Wetlands.
That being said, one of the single greatest thing about downtown Manhattan – which remains one of my favorite places on the planet – is the possibility of walking down the street and noticing a bar, a restaurant, a shop, or a music venue that you’ve never been to before, wandering in, and having an incredible experience. There are some cities that can offer something like this opportunity in a very compressed area – Austin and San Francisco, for example – but NYC offers square miles of adventures.
Live hip hop is an artform, it seems to me, that’s particularly difficult to perform live due to the exacting discipline of rapping. But when it’s good, it’s so good. There were a few occasions when I was able to wander into a place I’d never been before and caught live hip hop that blew me away. I wish I could recall the times and places and names of the artists I saw, but the feeling of Mecca and the Soul Brother brings me back to those feelings and those times.
Some stats & info about Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – Mecca and the Soul Brother
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Hip Hop, Old School Hip Hop, East Coast Rap, Rap, Jazzy Hip Hop
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars!
- When was Mecca and the Soul Brother released? 1992
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #985 out of 1,000
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – Mecca and the Soul Brother on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.