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Pete Rock: NY's Finest

Pete Rock: NY's Finest

Release Date:2008

By Brandon Soderberg | Posted 5/7/2008

Among the barrage of blax-ploitation clips introducing NY's Finest is a snippet from the 1977 Sidney Poitier/Bill Cosby vehicle A Piece of the Action: "What's happening is some bourgeois bullshit!" With rappers wearing confetti-pattern hoodies, producer superstars like Timbaland designing T-shirts for H&M, and Kanye West attending Fashion Week, it's easy to sympathize with the frustrations of the legendary "Soul Brother No. 1."

The main appeal of Finest is Pete Rock's production, but a particularly strong array of veterans--Redman, Raekwon, Styles P--and effective up and comers like Papoose serve the beats well. The biggest surprise is Rock's resurrection of '90s legends long faded away: Lords of the Underground on "The Best Secret" and Chip Fu of Fu-Schnickens on the half-good/half-terrible reggae-rap "Ready Fe War." It's easy to mistake Rock's latest for another hourlong trip to "back in the day," but in the end, dorky rap-fan excitement wins out.

"'Til I Retire" is a "hip-hop sucks right now" song, but Rock punctuates the message with watery electronics and finely chopped soul-string stabs. "We Roll" flips oft-sampled "Summer Madness" by Kool and the Gang into another Pete Rock classic and hands it over to Dipset goofballs Jim Jones and Max B. It's the grab for radio and one of the best tracks, a nice art and commerce compromise. Likewise, Little Brother gets an uncharacteristic bass-heavy thump on "Bring Y'all Back." Finest is part nostalgic kvetching, but it's part rap-nerd wet dream, too.

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