Wednesday, September 05, 2007


There have been a lot of dope rap groups that have called it quits over the years for different undisclosed reasons (EPMD, A Tribe Called Quest, Little Brother) that left me wondering why? One of the most tragic hip-hop break-ups for me was the one involving Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth back in 1995. I didn’t see the break-up coming. Rumor has it that the two artists had grown apart musically, and felt they were traveling on different paths career wise. I was already an avid fan of Pete Rock’s production style from back in the day, and hearing C.L. Smooth drop verses over those hypnotic beats just felt right. No, C.L. Smooth is not the most gifted emcee to ever touch a microphone, but as a group they worked well together like Buffalo wings and ranch dressing. Since, Pete Rock had already been working with several artists over his career, I knew he would be straight after the separation, but I was a little worried about Mr. Smooth’s future though. I just didn’t know if he was good enough to make it on his own without Pete Rock by his side?

After the break-up, C.L. Smooth disappeared from the music scene. He seemed very distraught about the whole ordeal and refused to drop a verse on anyone else’s projects. However, he did make an exception for DJ Krush back in 1996 by rhyming on the track “Only the Strong Survive.” Several years later PR and C.L. put their differences behind them, which led them back into the studio together again to see if the chemistry was still there. Rumors surfaced that the duo was going to release a reunion album. That never happened, but they did end up making a few hot tracks together that were released on various projects. Hearing those songs just made me want more, but beggars can’t be choosers. Finally, in 2006 C.L. Smooth dropped his first solo album “American Me” for the world to hear. The album was overlooked by most rap fans because no one really knew it had even been released. For his first solo joint, the album was decent, but definitely not a classic. Some of the production just didn’t meet the standards however C.L. Smooth hadn’t lost a step lyrically.

Mr. Smooth is back in 2007 with a new mix CD project entitled “The Outsider,” which is a mixture of new material, remixes and live renditions of several of his classics from the early days. I think this new joint is the better of the two, because he got rid of some filler tracks, remixed many others and dropped a few new gems as well. If you are looking for that old Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth sound, you will only find a glimpse of it here. You’d probably be better off just digging some of their classics out of your archives to bring that old feeling back instead. If you get a chance to hear the new C.L. joint, check it out and hear what you think. You may just like it!


No comments: