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"Mecca And The Soul Brother" was the debut album from Pete Rock & CL Smooth. The New York producer/MC combination (taking from the likes of Eric B. & Rakim, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo and Gang Starr) has the duo perform lots of classic Jazz and Soul-influenced Hip Hop to contrast from other conflicting Hip hop movements which were in effect around this time.
1. "Return Of The Mecca"
Starting the album off, you have a tune which initially explains what is meant by "Mecca" in their sense, and clearly its going to be a little more complex than the understanding which most have to it, following on from this you have a tune filled will horns to remind you of "T.R.O.Y", the single on this which most know them for.
2. "For Pete's Sake"
The way this one is done at the start has it set up as a freestyle scenario, before it fades and then comes in a joint which is much more like them as they jump on some funky beats, the way that it s made excites you as it is made mostly on a fair jazzy cut, but this then breaks down into a much funkier one as it progresses, and by the end you feel guilty for doubting that they were going to do it at a second-rate level at first.
3. "Ghettos Of The Mind"
After lots of hypnotic things getting you into the feel of the tune as it confuses you and gives you time to think as the title of repeated until you truly get it, once at this state, they choose to drop the beat on it and then explain what exactly they see this as, and how it influences the way you live. CL's flows are funky as ever and they boost the quality of the track dramatically.
4. "Lots Of Lovin'"
This one was the final single from the album and it has the pair do a tune which is completely unlike any other which you find on the album as it is a lot more of a constructed one, and it is designed specifically to become a commercial tune, compared all the rough tune on the album which have them killing it straight Hip Hop, I would say that as a result the quality levels slip, but not too much.
5. "Act Like You Know"
Following a quick Gene McDaniels segment, you find yourself throw into another big one from them as you get Pete Rock finding yet more inspiration form back in the day (1960s). From this, you find yourself being calmed by the gentle, vocal hook which is created. It gives the impression that this one is a chill-out tune, and they do well to create this atmosphere through their work.
6. "Straighten It Out"
The way that PR has obviously been really digging in the crates comes through as he chooses to begin this one with a quick snippet of a banger of a tune, just to show that he has the obscure tunes finding game on lock, following this, you have amongst the best flows from CL would gets you really excited by the way he is able to ride the thing.
7. "Soul Brother #1"
You hear another group of jazzy samples being used on this one to get things going, and from it you hear how Pete Rock is able to form them into something which he is able to mould around the style of his partner, CL Smooth, who comes with some rhymes to just liven you up as he speaks on his position as the "Soul Brother #1".
8. "Wig Out"
This one possesses some heavy drumming, and it gives them what is required to carry-through yet another killer track on this album. They simply do not give you a chance to breathe on this one as each and every time they come with something a little better to show just how much they have to offer on their jazzy samples and such.
9. "Anger In The Nation"
This one takes on the classic "Funky President" break from James Brown, and it has been used so many times in the Hip Hop world to create hot tunes, and this happens yet again for this one, and you have the two of them doing a jingling tune to lay off the jazzy stuff to a certain degree, this more general style of rap works with them and the fact that you know that they have a lot ore to them than what s already know, you are made to enjoy the fact that they are taking a chance to escape the intense creativity and do something a bit easier to construct.
10. "They Reminisce Over You"
Many consider this to be one of the greatest Hip Hop recordings of all-time, and although I can't say that I would rate it this highly, it is certainly an amazing tune, and one which must be heard. Inspired by the death of Trouble T Roy, (of Heavy D & The Boyz), this lead single from the album had them go on to influence many over to adapt their own work to reference this as they perform a horn-driven cut designed specifically to make to think.
11. "On and On"
This one starts of with some proper New York stuff as it begins with a big beatboxing/freestyle session to get into this NY State of Mind before they drop a fresh tune which seems to connect with the content of the freestyle rhymes before. It is all light-hearted, and you can't complain about any of it.
12. "It's Like That"
In a change to what you expect to find, this one has Pete Rock choose to only use a single sample on this one, an it really doesn't mean that anything is compromised as you fidn yourself being drawn to the simplicity of it, in comparison to the rest, and how they find ways to manipulate everything to find just how to move the crowd.
13. "Can't Front On Me"
This one is a heav tune from Pete Rock & Cl Smooth, as it has them in full-flow just doing what they do best and coming with something exciting and energetic to maintain all the same sort of standards which you find at each and every other place on this album. Despite the fact many of these take on the same sort of structure, they are able to excite you with something original each time.
14. "The Basement"
The classic "Atomic Dog" is used on this one, and this is simply a perfect Funk joint, so it doesn't matter how it's used, it will always influence the making of a banger, and it happens yet again in this case. You hear some additional influences coming through on this one as one of the sample Dub joints is taken on to show their divert as they bring the Soul out of everything they take on.
15. "If It Ain't Ruff, It Ain't Right"
In my opinion you couldn't have picked better acts to sample from as PR gets a little James Brown and Parliament to work with as they come together to do a tune based on a distinctive New York-styled chant to remind you of where Hip Hop has come from. This is a funky one, and has them apparent taking on the influence of the times to get a little more hardcore with the rhymes.
To end the album on, you fin this one, which features raps from Brand Nubian's Grand Puma, and the way this one is constructed just keeps the quality levels high even as the thing is closed up. The high energy of the hard percussion keeps you involved with it, and it mean that you are made to really have fun as they rip apart more James brown samples (amongst others).
Aside from one tune, which is slightly less strong as the others on it, this is a flawless album from the two, and it appears that following their debut EP, they found exactly what they are about and were able to come up with something which showed exactly what they wished to express through their music, and this was clearly achieved here.