PETE ROCK with SON OF SOUL , DJ SERIOUS and BIG JACKS at Roxy Blu (12 Brant), Friday (June 24). $15. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
Here's a rarity: an artist telling you not to buy his album.
But that's what legendary producer Pete Rock's doing with his latest LP, The Surviving Elements: From Soul Survivor II Sessions.
Before I call Rock's New York crib, his manager drops to me that sometimes Rock even smashes that record, a collection of leftover beats from his vocal Soul Survivor II album sessions, into little pieces onstage.
"I tell people not to support The Surviving Elements because BBE (a London-based record label) stole that and put it out without my permission," explains the man whose muddled bass lines and bright horn samples helped define hiphop's golden era, with his cooled-out compadre CL Smooth on the mic. "I told them no and they went ahead and put it out anyway."
What's worse, according to Rock, is that Barely Breaking Even released the beats without clearing any of the samples, including Al Green's Let's Stay Together. How could the label responsible for the Beat Generation series of shit hot instrumental collections by Jay Dee, DJ Spinna, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Marley Marl do something so dumb?
"I don't know. I'm in court with them for copyright infringements for a bunch of other things."
The people at BBE could not be reached to give their own explanation.
Rock, who broke back out on BBE in 01 with his stellar first instrumental record, Petestrumentals, doesn't even really like doing albums of just beats - they feel like incomplete songs to him.
What he prefers is working with colleagues like Ghostface Killah, whose new album is produced almost entirely by Rock, MF Doom and Jay Dee. (The sound you just heard was hundreds of rap lovers spontaneously ejaculating in anticipation of that record, which will kick off with the Pete-produced Be Easy single in August.)
"That song's just about everyday life and goin' out and enjoying yourself," he says.
In addition to working on Pretty Toney, he's also been in the lab with Dipset, Cam'ron's beloved crew who drop a new mixtape every six hours or so. A rap generation gap's been bridged by that collaboration, which may come out on the upcoming mixtape Rock's releasing on his own new label, Soul Survivor Records.
"I like Jim Jones and Cam and Juelz," he says. "You have to respect the youth, too, because you remember you were in the same place when you were young, making good records and doing good things in your career."
One person he won't be doing good things with soon is CL Smooth. They reconnected a couple of years ago, but something bad obviously happened. The memory of his old rhyming partner is a little cloudy.
"Who's that? I don't know anybody by that name."