One of hip-hop’s greatest producers is teaming up with one of the ‘90s most underrated rhyme duos. Pete Rock, whose signature soul drenched samples and crisp beats delivered celebrated production for such rap luminaries as Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, Nas, Raekwon, and Kanye West, is teaming up with critically-acclaimed Bronx, New York act Camp Lo to form the supergroup 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s. And according to Pete Rock, the ambitious merging came about earlier this year after running into Camp Lo spinner Technician The DJ following a studio session. When he was told that Camp Lo’s Sonny Cheeba and Geechi Suede were recording tracks for a new project, Pete decided to drop by and catch up with the pair.
“After that I started playing them beats and then we just built it from there,” Pete tells VIBE of the meeting. “From there we realized we were on to something.”
And what of the eyebrow-raising name of the group, 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s? Geechi says it’s all about making a statement. “We are trying to show that what we are all about is originality,” he explains. “That goes with our name and the music. We didn’t go too far with the sound. We didn’t go too left field. But what we are doing is still very original.”
And the group is already making noise on the hip-hop circuit. In late March, the newly christened act dropped a 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s mixtape. “Working with Pete Rock has really been a smooth transition,” says Cheeba. “The music is all souled-out on both sides. It’s real easy to the ears. Us coming together make sense.”
Indeed, 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s is an inspired pairing. Pete Rock, who began his career in 1991 as one-half of the Mount Vernon, New York act Pete Rock & CL Smooth, went on to forge a 20-year career that catapulted him amongst the some of the most storied hip-hop studio wizards of all-time including the groundbreaking likes of Dr. Dre, DJ Premier, the RZA, Timbaland, Organized Noize, and the Neptunes. Camp Lo exploded out of the underground New York rhyme scene with the 1996 breakout hit “Coolie High.” With their ‘70s style aesthetic, unorthodox rhyme cadences and slang, and jazzy soul driven production, Camp Lo were lauded, as their 1997 debut album Uptown Saturday Night became one of the year’s most noted efforts.
Pete Rock says he is excited about the future of the group, which includes a summer album and talks of a tour. “We have a single called ‘Mic Check,’ and it’s out now,” says Pete of what’s ahead for 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s. “The video is out. As for a release date for the album, we don’t have that yet. But we are close to finishing the album.”—Keith Murphy