‘NY’s Finest’ marks return of the Rock

Hip-hop’s finest producer, Pete Rock, has been a prominent figure in hip-hop’s pantheon since the early ‘90s. Getting his start with long-time friend and fellow New Yorker CL Smooth, Rock has produced bangers for nearly every heavy hitter in the game, including Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, Nas and many more.

After he split with his rhyming counterpart in 1995, Rock released a slew of solo projects, including the critically acclaimed instrumental album “PeteStrumentals.” Rock also released two “Soul Survivor” albums, on which he invited some of the greatest MCs of that time to rhyme over his beats. Nearly four years after the release of “Soul Survivor II,” Rock comes out the woodwork with “NY’s Finest.”

“NY’s Finest” is a compilation of some of today’s hip-hop elite with both underground favorites like Little Brother and Torae to some of mainstream’s most seasoned MCs, like Jim Jones, Styles P and Redman.

The album begins with the infectious track “We Roll,” featuring Jim Jones and Max B. I’ve never really been a Jim Jones fan — although I’ll admit “Ballin” is one of my all-time biggest guilty pleasures — but both Jones and Max B make this track worthwhile, along with Kool and the Gang-laced beats.

The next three or so tracks feature hot verses from the likes of Styles P, Sheek Louch and Redman, with Rock rhyming solo in one track. We don’t really get to the “meat and cheese” until later in the album when some of my all-time favorite MCs come through and tear it apart — in a good way. The boys of Little Brother deliver a stellar performance on the rack “Bring Y’all Back,” as well as Raekwon and Masta Killa absolutely killing it on my favorite track, “The PJs.”

This album marks a solid return for Rock. His goal was to deliver a style to the masses that everyone could feel, both hip-hop listeners who have been familiar with Rock since the beginning and the younger crowd who may have never heard of him. Rock delivers a new style but manages to stay true to his roots.

Wary listeners, don’t fear: This is the same Rock that produced the classic hip-hop anthem “T.R.O.Y.” — he’s just put a modern twist on things to remain relevant in today’s music industry flooded with talentless musicians. All hip-hop fans will enjoy this one, so if you haven’t already picked it up, quit sleeping and go get it.

Landon Antonetti is an undecided sophomore and production director at WRFL. E-mail [email protected]