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WHO: Daryl McIntosh
WHERE: Baltimore, MD
ALBUM: Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth’s Mecca and the Soul Brother (1992)
Even amidst the childhood play of a 10 year old, I was forced to stop and take notice that something special had been created when the producer/emcee duo Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth dropped Mecca and the Soul Brother in late spring of 1992.
The album’s best known and leadoff single “They Reminisce Over You” for me was more than just a moving tribute to the group’s close friend, Troy “Trouble T-Roy” Dixon. It became the musical therapy of my own tragic loss of a neighborhood friend that same year. As C.L. candidly pours out over Pete Rock’s masterpiece that stands out among a brilliant career of production, explaining how families pull together within close knit communities, he gave voice to my life story by touching on issues including single parenthood and early exposure to alcoholism, making Mount Vernon, NY sound exactly like my West Baltimore neighborhood, Edmondson Village.
Pete’s craftsmanship when sculpting bangers like “Straighten It Out” and “For Pete’s Sake” serve as some of the best examples of why even 24 years later this album is heralded as one of the genre's best produced albums and reinforces the argument that Pete Rock may be the undisputed King of Boom Bap.
Now, almost halfway through my thirties, Mecca and the Soul Brother is one the first vinyls I reach for to reminisce about the fun of growing up in the ‘90s, and without having to skip a single track, the album offers plenty of balance when reflecting on the lessons I learned from my mother while nodding to “Ghetto of the Mind.” It allows a smile to crack through when the beat drops for “Lots of Lovin,’” as Ithink back on the innocence of how carving my name alongside my first girlfriend’s on a tree outside my apartment was a form of matrimony
My wife bought me the vinyl LP almost nine years ago knowing that I value this classic in the highest regard, as one of the exclusive albums that I regard as the reason for my lifelong love affair with hip-hop.