Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth
Hailing from Mt. Vernon, N.Y., Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth crafted some of the nicest tracks of the early 1990s. Backed by exceptionally smooth production flaunting a heavy jazz influence, the duo brought forth original, intelligent lyricism that addressed a wide variety of issues. Their first record, All Souled Out (1991), gave listeners a taste of their easygoing style; they followed a year later with the indisputable classic Mecca and the Soul Brother. Rock's skills behind the boards were exceptional, with deep, sample-laden hooks and seriously funky beats. C.L. came with buttery verses, rocking the mic with casual flows that were strong but relaxed, wordy but tight. A solid album from start to finish, Mecca also yielded their biggest hit, a saxophone-fuelled, deeply personal song about family called "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)." The duo's third album dropped in '94 and they split soon after. Pete Rock has continued to excel as a producer, steadily making hits for artists like Nas, Run-D.M.C., and Rakim.