Now that it’s been 16 years since their one and only appearance on the Pop charts (1995’s “Take You There” made a one week cameo at the number 76 spot), it’s easy for some people to forget the immense impact of Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth. At their peak, “Mecca and the Soul Brother” were locking down Sprite endorsements, powering a Run-DMC comeback and watching with the rest of us as dozens of clone producers tried to imitate Pete’s trademark mix of breakbeats, samples and horn loops.
As a display of just how much influence Pete Rock had, he would also later bring the group InI, comprised of himself, his brother Grap Luva, Rob O and I Love H.I.M. to Elektra. And while being connected to, or in Grap’s case related to the man who was arguably Hip Hop’s best producer at the time didn’t hurt, both men had respectively held their own on various posse cuts. After Pete Rock and C.L. split, InI was poised to release The Life I Live on Elektra, but Pete Rock felt the open creative relationship with the higher ups had been compromised.
“When I finished the InI album, there was a guy who was the president who approved of InI and got them signed to Elektra,” Pete Rock explained to RiotSound.com. “But once Sylvia Rhone came into the picture things didn’t work out between me and her. We didn’t have the greatest relationship. She came in with some of her own insights, which I didn’t approve of, and I felt she didn’t understand real Hip-Hop music. She came in with the brand new polished sound, which was, to me, it was like water to skin. It just rolls off of you. It doesn’t stick to you…I felt like me and her, I didn’t feel like we would have a great relationship with our thought processes going in different directions.”
Such being the case, The Life I Live was renamed Center of Attention, but Elektra still shelved the album. The project was eventually re-released by BBE Records, but Pete Rock said that business relationship also soured. After his 2004 album, Younger Soul Brother, Grap Luva tossed around the idea of returning a few times, including his 2010 single, “Work It Out.” And, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know Pete Rock is still doing his thing. The chances of new InI material being released seem rather slim at this point, but a look back at “Fakin’ Jax” is always a plus if you’re nostalgic for a great sample powered by Havoc’s infamous (no pun intended) line from “Give Up The Goods.”