Is Pete Rock's Disappointment Justified?

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http://twitter.com/#!/PeteRock/status/204715409839104000 http://twitter.com/#!/PeteRock/status/204715660935299072 Just a few minutes after Lupe Fiasco dropped his new single “Around My Way”, Pete Rock took to Twitter to express his disappointment. The song samples the same song that “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y)” samples, the classic Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth joint that many consider to be one of the best hip-hop songs of all-time.

I’ve seen many people on the internet slam Pete Rock for his tweets. Their main point seems to be that all of hip-hop is based on sampling, and it would be hypocritical for Pete to get angry since he sampled Tom Scott’s “Today” to make “T.R.O.Y”. And they also argue that Lupe is just simply paying homage and giving new life to a classic.

But I disagree with those points. Pete Rock is justified in his anger. Whoever produced the track essentially took the “T.R.O.Y” melody and added some drums and synths, and not particularly good ones. The greatness of the original melody still barely shines through to make it a decent beat, but “Around My Way” still sounds lazy. I know it sounds silly to be talking about originality in a sample-based genre, but Pete Rock took that Tom Scott sample and made it his own art. Listen to the horn riffs, the reverb, the way he filtered the bass line, the cymbals, and how it all comes together. It sounds original and it sounds beautiful. The producer of “Around My Way” attempted to chop the Tom Scott sample the same way and even other producers feel that’s wrong. And then there’s this:

I had a friend of mine that passed away, and it was a shock to the community. I was kind of depressed when I made it. And to this day, I can’t believe I made it through, the way I was feeling. I guess it was for my boy. When I found the record by Tom Scott, basically I just heard something incredible that touched me and made me cry. It had such a beautiful bassline, and I started with that first. I found some other sounds and then heard some sax in there and used that. Next thing you know, I have a beautiful beat made. When I mixed the song down, I had Charlie Brown from Leaders of the New School in the session with me, and we all just started crying.

Pete Rock obviously has a very deep personal connection to the song. Lupe rapped some dope verses and his intentions may have been to pay homage to a great song. But after the controversy with A Tribe Called Quest, any Lupe attempt to pay homage might be looked at as disingenuous. His credibility among many hip-hop heads was damaged then, and this certainly doesn’t help.

But hopefully Lupe can right this little controversy by talking to Pete Rock. And maybe we can get a dope collab out of that. And everybody wins!