That sound you hear is hell freezing over. That’s because one of hip-hop’s most celebrated duos, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, have reunited for a tour to mark the release of their seminal 1992 album Mecca And The Soul Brother. For many hip-hop fans, such a return is indeed surprising given the act’s abrasive relationship. But according to Pete Rock, that’s all in the past. The influential super producer who has logged studio time with everyone from the late Heavy D, Public Enemy, and Run-D.M.C. to Nas, Kanye West, and Lady Gaga, sat down with VIBE to discuss his return to the stage with C.L. —Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)
VIBE: Why now? Why after 10 plus years did you and C.L. Smooth decide to reunite for this tour?
Pete Rock: We basically wanted to do some shows. As for myself, I’m a grown man, now. I’m not a kid anymore. So my thing was let’s be grown men about this. Let’s get out there and do what we do.
Was it just as simple as you calling C.L. up?
Hmmm…Nah, basically we stayed in touch here and there. We talk. We do shows. And when we do shows we have conversations and we talk about what we want to do. For now, we are just on tour doing these shows and having fun doing that.
The tour is being billed as the 20th anniversary of Mecca And The Soul Brother, a release that’s widely considered a classic and features one of hip-hop’s greatest statements “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)”. What does that track and album mean for you?
It means a lot to me. Looking back and going back to those days, I’m now able to enjoy myself and have fun with the music. That’s all its ever been for me. Being a musician…it’s such a great feeling. The feeling of good music makes you feel great. That’s always important.
So the question on everyone’s mind is how you and C.L. were able to bury the proverbial hatchet? At one point you said of your old partner: ”When the other person doesn't think anything about you and you are making the beats and doing all the work, there is a time in your life when everyone has to grow up…” How did you personally get over the animosity that existed between you two?
It came down to basically coming together and speaking on it. We kept it moving as men. That’s the only thing I can do. I can’t control a person. I can express how I feel now. Whatever it is you said I said, I don’t even remember that. But it doesn’t really matter now because that was all in the past. People love to bring up the past when we got something big going on now, which is reuniting and doing these shows. Everybody has friction with each other. People want to know about the turmoil…but that doesn’t really mean anything. I don’t care about it. I just hope that the fans will be happy seeing us together again.
What comes to mind when you are behind the turntables onstage and you see C.L. holding the mic in front of you in 2013?
The fact that we are still able to perform. We are still rocking the crowd after 20 years. We are performing in front of a crowd of people…real fans. That’s what’s important to me. Seeing C.L. being able to do the songs is great.
There is a special chemistry between Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth. Do you sit back and think, “Damn, this was destined to happen?”
Yeah…I always think about it. I’m grateful now that we are even able to do shows with each other. I’m most grateful for that if anything else doesn’t work out.
Can fans expect another Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth album?
We can only hope and pray that that happens. Right now we are just doing these shows. But hopefully we can go in that direction.
Remaining Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth Dates:
10.24 Denver, CO Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
10.26 Los Angeles, CA The Roxy Theatre
10.27 San Francisco, CA Yoshi’s San Francisco
10.30 Portland, OR Hawthorn Theater
11.01 Seattle, WA The Crocodile
11.02 Vancouver, BC Fortune Sound Club
11.08 Chicago, IL The Shrine
11.11 Toronto, Ontario The Phoenix Concert Theatre
11.12 Montreal, Quebec Cabaret Underworld
11.13 New York, NY BB Kings
11.15 Boston, MA Middle East