The Return of Rob Odindo

November 2, 2009

Other than CL Smooth, Rob-O is probably the strongest rapper Pete Rock ever blessed with a full album of his productions. Of course, that’s small praise when the competition is Deda and the rest of the dudes from INI. Personally, I always found Rob pretty bland, but I’ll listen to pretty much anybody over a Pete Rock track (especially the mid-90’s shit INI was freaking.) After Center of Attention got shelved, I always figured Rob had found a new career; after all, I hadn’t heard anything from him since his last appearance with Pete, on 1998’s Soul Survivor. So imagine my surprise last week when, browsing the stacks at Rasputin, I stumbled upon Rhyme Pro. Less an album than a collection of singles and unreleased tracks, Rhyme Pro boasts uniformly solid production and, on songs like the biographical “Life I Live Part 2,” some surprisingly engaging performances from Rob himself. Elsewhere on the album he’s predictably boring, but at least he’s never irritating like Deda; at worst he kind of blends into the track and you just tune him out. Of course, the main reason I bought this album (well, aside from the $3.95 price tag) were the four tracks by the Chocolate Boy Wonder, none of which I’d heard before. Ostensibly recorded sometime between The Main Ingredient and Soul Survivor, these joints are smooth, laid-back, and jazzy—perfectly suited to Rob-O’s mellow flow (though he definitely gets overshadowed some by the production.) Surprisingly, they aren’t necessarily even the best songs here, as others allow Rob to acquit himself a bit better lyrically over equally solid, if different, production by a handful of lesser-knowns. Interestingly, the album includes two tracks previously released as part of INI’s Center of Attention, an album whose full production is always credited to Pete Rock. Here, however, “Don’t You Want It” and “Wunderlust” are credited to Spunk Bigga and Grap Luva, respectively. Hard to know about that one, I guess, without asking Pete. Anyway, peep the nineties-era Pete Rock tracks below, and if you like what you hear go ‘head and cop the album. Amazingly, it’s still in print.

Stay Away ft. De La Soul (download)

Mention Me ft. Meccalicious (download)

So Many Rappers ft. Pete Rock (download)

Superspectacular ft. Pete Rock (download)

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Heart and Soul

July 9, 2009
Red Cafe repping Akons Konvict Music (he was later dropped)

Red Cafe repping Akon's Konvict Music (he's since jumped ship to Bad Boy)

I don’t know much about Red Cafe, but after reading this Wikipedia entry I’m inclined to doubt his business acumen. Why any rapper who hasn’t put out an album after ten years in the industry would sign with, of all labels, Bad Boy Records, is beyond me. Has he not read Mark Curry’s book? Even if Diddy does decide to let him put an album out (which is unlikely considering Diddy’s own girlfriend is still waiting on a release date), we all know who’s taking most of the profits. Are today’s rappers so desperate to be on a major label that they will sacrifice their creative and financial independence in the progress? Have we learned nothing from Crooked I? I find it ironic that people refer to indie Koch as a graveyard, when true creative death has long been a staple of rap’s major labels.  And if I’ve learned anything from his handling of Shyne, G. Dep, and especially Mark Curry (who apparently is now homeless and struggling to support his family) it’s that Diddy represents the worst of the bunch. But I digress. My goal with this post was to spotlight some dope new music, not to knock the homie’s hustle.

Red Cafe — Heart and Soul (Prod. Pete Rock)

And how dope it is! After the dissapointing NY’s Finest, it seems Pete Rock is back on his shit. First Method Man and Redman’s “A-Yo!” (a monster of a single if Def Jam had actually given a fuck) and now this soulful, atmospheric gem. As many rappers of their era approach retirement age, it’s nice to know that producers like Pete, DJ Premier and the like can keep dropping heat ’till they’re truly old and grey. Makes you feel better about rap’s future. Now let’s hope this shit makes it off the internet and onto an album.

Bonus (NSFW): In case you didn’t hate Diddy enough already…