Interview: Pete Rock Dishes On Next Album, Kanye West’s Departure From Hip-Hop

Hip-Hop trailblazer Pete Rock has a message to new and old artists alike: Stay in your lane. The New York DJ—who rose to fame in the ’90s alongside his on-again, off-again partner CL Smooth—has partnered with Blazetrak, an online resource where burgeoning artists pay a fee for the chance to get their music produced by tastemakers in the music biz.

As Pete Rock gears up for his Blazetrak endeavor in the next few days, DJs, rappers and singers will be able to submit their music and receive actual video feedback from him via video messages. The 43-year-old might even produce one, just to make sure your submission sounds like hip-hop. When asked about Kanye West’s latest electro-heavy album, Yeezus, Rock says, “I think he [Kanye] is very talented, but he just went in another direction other than hip-hop,” says Rock of Yeezus. “Maybe he’s trying to make a new sound in hip-hop. But I believe that when you’re a producing an album that your fans wanna hear beats. If you’re going to go left that’s cool… you don’t have to do your whole album like that. People lack the sound of hip-hop and they wanna hear it again. Kanye is talented enough to make that happen.”

What Rock is looking for in submissions is simple… perfection. “I’m such a picky dude. Even when it comes to talent… they [artists submitting music through Blazetrak] have to have everything… control, poise. That delivery is the same thing I look for in rappers. Having a good voice helps.”

As for his upcoming solo album, Rock reveals, “I’m like four or five [tracks] deep into it. It’s not all the way done yet. It’s just rough so it will be [done] but I haven’t reached that point yet.” While he remains tightlipped on who will be making guest appearances on the comp, Rock admits there are some artists he’d be down to produce for like, “A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg, Joey Badass, Action Bronson, even Drake. I think Drake can rap. He just does a certain kind of rap that’s, you know, radio-friendly.

The hip-hop pioneer explains that “sometimes in your career, when you make it to a certain level, all the real music you used to do doesn’t get done anymore. You gotta do this now to survive and it’s understandable, but I say you’re not losing either way if you still continue to keep your roots. Never forget where your came from and how you started. Always give that back to the people.”

Accrediting Puffy for being a true hip-hop game-changer, Pete Rock explains, “When his [Puff’s] era started, that’s when everything really started to change. I noticed also that a lot of people were getting fired at record labels and re-hired at that time. Something new was brewing but we just didn’t know it, and it hit us by storm.” He adds that it’s “cool [to] start something new but don’t shit on what was already – don’t shit on real hip-hop. Certain people’s talents are limited. They can’t do the things the way a DJ Premier does or Pete Rock does so they do it their way and it stays. That’s where I feel like the music is… people are just doing what they are limited to do.”

With the current onslaught of bedroom producers-turning-star DJs, Pete Rock finds the method backwards. “Once you’re a DJ, then the producer is the next step in my eyes,” he says. “That’s how it happened for me. If you’re a good DJ it’s easy to tell. If you’re a bad DJ it’s even easier to tell.”

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