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Artist: Pete Rock & CL Smooth
Album: Mecca And The Soul Brother
Label: Elektra
Production: Pete Rock, co-production by CL Smooth, Nevelle Hodge, Large Professor
Guests: Heavy D, Rob-O, Grap, Dida, Grand Puba
Stats: 1992; 16 Tracks at 77mins31secs
Reviewed by: Eitan Prince aka Supafly

After releasing their "All Souled Out" EP and appearing on other artists’ efforts (most notably Heavy D’s "Peaceful Journey"), producer/rapper duo Pete Rock and CL Smooth set time aside for their debut long-player in 1992. The result, "Mecca And The Soul Brother", is an album 77 minutes long and chockfull of neatly-crafted backing tracks and CL Smooth’s flows - which, incidentally, fall somewhere between Heavy D and Grand Puba (of Brand Nubian fame).

The album - driven by Pete Rock’s sonic constructions and his fetish for jazz samples in particular - is more than a showcase of skills. And, despite the obvious braggadocio fare in tracks like ‘For Pete’s Sake’, ‘Soul Brother #1’ and ‘Skinz’, Mecca contains underlying tones of spirituality and a sense of social awareness. ‘They Reminisce Over You (TROY)’, for instance, is a haunting autobiographical composition that also serves as an epitaph for Trouble T-Roy - a close friend of the group and one of Heavy D’s dancers. On the other hand, ‘Ghettos of the Mind’ deals with the harsh realities that face ghetto dwellers seeking a route up the social ladder. These frustrations are carried into ‘Anger in the Nation’, which, with its Public Enemy-like rhetoric, addresses the politics of race with its own twist of militant revolutionary speak.

With this mixture of ‘freestylism’ and tracks of substance, Pete and CL have engineered an album that is almost perfectly balanced. Politically speaking, Mecca may not have pushed boundaries and at more than 77 minutes it is a tad bulky, yet it is a cornerstone of a classic year in Hip-Hop history and remains essential listening. [9/10]

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