Ladies and Gentlemen: The Soul Brother #1, the Chocolate Boy Wonder, one of the greatest producers of all-time, Mr. Pete Rock. From "All Souled Out" to "Mecca & The Soul Brother," "Main Ingredient," "Center of Attention" through "Soul Survivor," "Petestrumentals" and all his remixes and guest production, Pete has remained, in a word, incredible. "Soul Survivor 2," his first solo non-instrumental LP in 6 years, is no exception.
For any longtime Pete Rock fan the first thing that is going to jump out here is the three songs featuring CL Smooth. With their tumultuous on-again-off-again relationship over the years it nice to see them working together; and even better to hear it. "It's A Love Thing" is the best of the bunch as it laughs at the notion that PR and CL would lose their incredible chemistry. "Appreciate" is more of the same, it's like Mecca & The Soul Brother meets 2004. CL only provides the hook for the starry "Fly Til I Die," but you can't be mad at that when Talib Kweli is dropping the bars. Phonte and Big Pooh of Little Brother come through to "Give It To Y'all," and is Pete intentionally doing his 9th Wonder impression? Just check those snares, the teacher does the student. Pete seems to impersonate another producer whose style he has greatly influenced with "Niggaz Know" featuring Jay Dee. Dilla's former group also lends a hand on "Da Villa," featuring those horns that no one has ever done as well as Soul Brother. He even fuses his style with RZA circa '95 for the RZA and GZA assisted "Head Rush," a certified banger.
Much of the strength of the album comes from the guests Pete has enlisted. The mighty Pharoahe Monch sounds as dope as ever as he goes between rhyming and singing on "Just Do It." Ditto for Skillz who rips one of Pete's finest offerings on "One MC, One DJ." As always, Skillz has got the quotables; "y'all dudes not thugs/you 8 deep in a coupe, that ain't gangsta/that's a moving group hug," and "don't play with your life nigga cause I'll add a 'less' at the end of it." "Beef" featuring Krumbsnatcha and Black Ice's "Truth Is" also deserve mention here, quite dope. Unfortunately, the only weaknesses of the album come in the same vein. Pete's frantic beat for "Warzone" is butchered by Dead Prez and their piss poor attempt to prove "revolutionaries" can get the asses shaking in the clubs. Similarly, Postaboy's "Here We Go" is rather irritating.
I don't think that anyone who is familiar with Pete Rock's music expected anything less than good here. Pete's utilization of jazz, funk and soul has resulted in some of best beats ever heard. Perhaps more importantly, he has been strikingly consistent over the course of his career. "Soul Survivor 2" is no exception and a worthy entry into the lofty catalogue of the Soul Brother.