Just a couple of days after Kanye West revealed on Twitter that Pete Rock would be one of the producers on the new joint album between himself and Jay-Z, "Watch The Throne," Pete Rock says he was just as surprised to hear the news.
"That came as a surprise to me because Jay-Z and I had never worked together," the beatsmith and half of the 90s hip-hop group Pete Rock & CL Smooth, told Billboard.com. "I used to go to Jay-Z sessions to hang out, and once he asked me to help clear a Nas sample, but other than that… When the engineer called and said, 'Pete, I got a surprise for you,' and I heard Jay rapping over my beat, I was like, 'Wow!'"
Originally, Pete Rock was just working on music for 'Ye's as-yet-untitled forthcoming album after Kanye's bodyguard reached out to him and informed him Kanye was looking to collaborate. "I was working on little stuff for my album and a few other people's, but I dropped everything to work with him," he says.
So he flew to Hawaii and after spending some time with Kanye and playing him a gang of beats, Kanye settled for eight and then narrowed it down to two. "Two beats on a Kanye West album means you're in there -- you're the man," he jokes. "He even asked me to rhyme on one, but I said, 'I'm not worthy to rhyme with you.'"
But before he knew it, he was sitting on the phone with Kanye's engineer who was playing him a verse from Jay-Z over one of the two selected beats, now slated to appear on "Watch The Throne." "It was great to hear Jay over a Pete Rock beat. Wow. He says my name on the sh*t and everything," Pete says excitedly.
According to Pete -- who says he's heard "everything" on Kanye's upcoming album -- fans can expect an album that "sounds like hip-hop. You'll get Kanye's style, but he just took it there by putting RZA, Q-Tip, [DJ] Premier and myself on it," he says.
Aside from Kanye's album and now the Kanye/Jay-Z set, Pete Rock says he's working on stuff for 80 Blocks (formerly known as Camp Lo), Joell Ortiz, Raekwon and Styles P, as well as currently performing shows with CL across the globe, with an Oct. 20 show planned in their hometown of New York. Pete and CL have also briefly discussed recording a new album, but that is in its preliminary stages, he says.
Also, their 1992 debut album, "Mecca & The Soul Brother," was recently re-released, although, because they don't own that publishing, they have nothing to do with the project.
But these days he's most grateful to be working with Kanye. "I'm grateful to still be around and that people like Kanye still want to work with me. That just means they still believe," he says.