Aided by the immense talents of Jack White’s drummer Daru Jones, guitarist Marcus Machado, bassists MonoNeon and Christopher McBride, keyboardist BigYuki and vocalist Jermaine Holmes, the 14-song project harnesses Rock’s innate love for jazz and Hip Hop with relative ease. After all, Rock has been working on perfecting his craft since at least 1989 when he co-produced “Mood For Love” for his cousin and late rap icon Heavy D.
As Rock continued on his journey to musical greatness, he had the opportunity to play a few beats for Sean “Diddy” Combs — and one of those beats wound up being the blueprint for The Notorious B.I.G. single “Juicy,” a bona fide Hip Hop classic. Produced by Diddy and Poke of the Trackmasters, the song uses a sample of Mtume’s 1983 track, “Juicy Fruit” and features an alternative chorus sung by Total and Diddy himself.
During a 2004 interview with Wax Poetics, Rock noted he never received credit for the beat and felt Diddy more or less stole it from him.
“I did the original version, didn’t get credit for it,” he said at the time. “They came to my house, heard the beat going on the drum machine, it’s the same story. You come downstairs at my crib, you hear music. He heard that shit and the next thing you know it comes out. They had me do a remix, but I tell people, and I will fight it to the end, that I did the original version of that. I’m not mad at anybody, I just want the correct credit.”
Sixteen years later, Rock has long moved on from the “Juicy” controversy. While speaking to HipHopDX, he touched on the subject and admitted he was bothered at first but ultimately grew to make peace with it. Now, he just wishes he could’ve collaborated with Biggie prior to his 1997 murder.
“When it first happened to me, I was upset about it,” he tells DX. “But then after a while, what I learned about the music business, publishing rights and everything like that, I got over it. It wasn’t no big deal after awhile. My thing was working with Biggie more. Why was I not working with him more? He came over to my house and picked out five or six beats. I always thought I was going to get that call like, ‘Yo Pete, we ready,’ and then he passed.”
While Rock maintains the initial concept still sprouted from him, he’s not tripping about credit anymore.
“I’m happy to say that the idea came from me, regardless of what the incident was and who produced the original,” he adds. “That don’t bother me. I’m just saying, I was glad to even get something on them. Some good came out of it for me. There was more to it personally, but it is what it is.”
Rock wound up producing a remix of the song in 1994 that lived alongside “Unbelievable” by DJ Premier and a “Juicy (Dirty Mix).” Still, Poke refuted Rock’s claim as recently as 2012 when he told Complex, “Puff said, ‘Yo ‘Juicy Fruit’ is a hot record to jack.’ I went home, we put the shit together, came back to the studio, Biggie rhymed and that was it. That’s the whole story.”
But, as previously stated, Rock has closed that chapter and is looking ahead. He’s even open to participating in some kind of battle, not necessarily Verzuz, but an event that would highlight the love he has for Hip Hop culture.
“When I look at a battle with a guy like Easy Moe Bee, I’m looking at it in a fun aspect,” he says. “I’m not looking at it to try to take him down or none of that stupid shit, you know what I’m saying? We’re going to have some fun together, brother. You going to play some me your shit, I’m going to play some of my shit and we’re going to DJ together, and we going to scratch and we’re going to get it popping. That’s entertainment.
“But really, I don’t look at anybody as my contender. These are my compadres. I mean, I competed in the ’90s and these guys were making tough beats. And as far as producers goes, the only Verzuz battle that makes sense with me is DJ Premier [who previously battled RZA in one of the earlier Verzuz battles]. We’ve been doing it. We went on tour. We did it in Central Park. We did it in New York City. We did it in Miami. We did it all over. We could go from morning until the next morning. Easy.”
For now, check out Petestrumentals 3 below and look out for Part III of HipHopDX’s interview with Pete Rock soon.