Although the one-track blogs of old are now in the minority, I’d thought I’d tip my hat to the old school this evening and hit you with just one joint. The reasons for this are numerous. Partly, ‘Petestrumentals’ is still in print and easily accessible (pick it up here) and so I do have some qualms about posting the album in its entirety (although I am aware that this has not been a consistent feature of the albums that I have posted). More importantly, this is my favourite Pete Rock beat of all time, and as such, it deserves its own post.
For most die-hard music fans, there will be a large number of songs that have the capability to transport them to another time and place. It may not be your favourite track of all time, but for whatever reason it reeks of a certain moment in your life. ‘Ms Fat Booty’ transports me to a summer spent with mates whilst my parents were on holiday, whereas Rahzel’s ‘If Your Mother Only Knew’ will always take me back to my first year in university: the list goes on… What’s extraordinary about ‘Pete’s Jazz’ for me personally is that it reminds me of innumerable moments over the last five years: it has brought me so much pleasure, so often, that it is impossible to distinguish one single moment in time that it encapsulates beyond all others.
In all honesty, I probably listen to the intro section, first ‘verse’ and chorus more often than I do the song in its entirety before I find myself reaching for the rewind button. There is something incredibly captivating about this first 32 bars or so that gets me every time. The initial drop into drums and bass, the subtle sax loop, the breakdown and then onwards into a stripped down percussion section before all of the samples weave in and out of the beat collectively on their way to the chorus. When it drops, the song opens out into a spacious sonic landscape that raises the hairs on the back of my neck every single time.
There is a remarkable complexity to this tune and it would be nothing short of criminal to have someone spit over the top of it. Although I generally try to mime various instruments when I am listening to songs that I really love (much to the potential disdain of those around me), the bass kick on ‘Pete’s Jazz’ is beyond my amateur mime act. And yet at the same time, it by no means dominates the music, and instead slips in perfectly alongside the other layers involved in the composition. This ‘complex simplicity’ is indicative of the track as a whole: the subtlety with which it is constructed is staggering.
Bottom line, I’m never disappointed when I listen to ‘Pete’s Jazz’. In a discography that has such consistency and quality, favourites will always come down to personal preference, with each head able to argue the case for their particular choice. Whichever Pete Rock track is yours, I hope that it brings you as much joy as ‘Pete’s Jazz’ does for me: this song is one of the reasons that I love hip hop.