Pete Rock releases “Return of the SP1200” album. Available for download and stream, Rock’s latest music project lists 15 tracks. Pete Rock is a living legend in Hip-Hop. Throughout the last 30 years, Pete has fed a dedicated fan-base with material from his duo with C.L. Smooth, solo albums, remixes, DJ sets, plenty of collaborative albums, and production work. However, like J Dilla, Madlib, Ayatollah, and others, Pete Rock has made acclaimed instrumental Hip-Hop albums.
At the top of this year, Pete revealed that he was dropping a collection of previously unreleased instruments titled Return Of The SP1200 on Record Store Day (April 13). Heads were justifiably excited, especially given that these beats were reportedly made between 1990 and 1998. Between Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth’s All Souled Out and his solo debut Soul Survivor, P.R. made some of his most acclaimed music.
“The Chocolate Boy Wonder” appeared on Sway In The Morning this week and revealed some info. After explaining that he has a ton of unreleased beats and that he plans to keep releasing LPs like Return Of The SP1200, he is asked about songs with artists that he may have in the vaults. Sway’s producer Rich Nice asks, “Are there any unreleased joints you have with you and [Heavy D]?” Pete responds, “Yeah, yeah…yeah, heck yeah.” To which Sway counters, “Would you ever release ‘em?” Without hesitation, the Mount Vernon native answers, “Yeah. Yup, it’s just, you know, finding the right ones and saying, ‘Hey, pshhhht.’
And then there’s…I got a song…I got his very first demo, actually, on acetate. It’s in my garage somewhere. But yeah, it was pretty dope.” Pete and Heavy D were cousins on top of close collaborators until Hev’s 2011 passing. Heavy D & The Boyz member DJ Eddie F. is who taught Pete Rock how to use the famed sampler. He also says he was able to witness Marley Marl during seminal Juice Crew sessions. “I consider Marley the J Dilla of the ’80s,” Pete asserts.
At the 19:10 mark, DB asks Pete about other pieces in his archives. In gloating, he says, “Nah, lemme stop. [Laughs] I got some stuff. I got old [Large Professor] joints, old C.L. [Smooth] joints, a whole bunch of stuff…whole bunch of just jewels and gems. I was listening to a Styles P joint I did that I never used.”
At the beginning of the segment, Sway In The Morning plays some sounds from Pete’s new LP, which is currently available on vinyl-only until later this month.
The team keeps digging for more, and when they inquire about unreleased Nas, P.R. tells them he has a remix that never came out, but does not specify which song. On the other hand, he informed his interviewers that he has a bunch of unheard music with Smoke DZA, with whom he dropped the 2016 Don’t Smoke Rock album.
“Artists are picky, so everyone is not gonna like every thing you do. [Laughs] But I have a slew of beats that they do like and pick. But the ones that they don’t use or don’t [make the album], then [they] just sit there. So I say, ‘You know what? I’ma do something like this [album].’ And I’ma keep doin’ it. There’s so many beats I got like that.” P.R. also tells Heather B that he will trash beats too.
Specifically regarding the 1200, Pete says that Nas’ Illmatic (which celebrates its 25th-anniversary this week) was made by producers who all used the same hardware. “Large Professor, he was an SP1200 guy like myself; the Illmatic producers were 1200 guys.” Q-Tip, L.E.S., Extra P, and DJ Premier all used the coveted piece with 12-seconds of sampling time. He also particularly praises Easy Mo Bee and Ced Gee for their innovations of the machine. Elsewhere in the interview, Pete specifies why the SP was so helpful.
Particularly, the machine’s filters allowed producers to isolate sounds to sample regardless of vocals and other tracks. In the summer of 2017, Pete shared several unreleased beats off an old Emu Systems SP1200 that he revealed Freddie Foxxx (aka Bumpy Knuckles) had given him, on his Instagram account.
He played alternate versions of well-known instrumentals from celebrated albums, as well as an M.O.P. cut that also featured Pete on the mic. It’s unknown if any of these tracks made it onto Return Of The SP1200, but it’s clear that this man’s vintage samplers, disks, and reels are treasure troves ripe for plunder.
Listen and download Pete Rock’s Return Of The SP1200