Review Summary: The streets of '90s New York are once again brought back to life.
Instrumental hip-hop has always been a fascination, leaving out any sort of vocal collaboration with rapper and producer - solely leaving the latter to his task of conjuring up a beat fitting with the atmospheric tone that the producer desires to express. This is the cream of the crop for hip-hop, for the true hip-hop fan, for the numerous dreamers aspiring to make it in the industry as rappers to pen up something worthy of the beat. Instrumental hip-hop is where hip-hop has been consistently on-point, never really seeing a decline or step back in its long tenure - the alley of hip-hop that hasn't been cornered by anything problematic.
If you want to talk who's high-caliber specifically in this field of hip-hop, look none other than acclaimed producer Pete Rock. He may be better known for his classic "They Reminisce Over You" with C.L Smooth and his part in Nas' "The World Is Yours", but his solo instrumentation work is something to behold. His 2001 instrumental album PeteStrumentals could be regarded as one of the greatest, if not, the greatest album of its kind - capturing the grimy, polarizing atmosphere of New York in utter, encapsulating detail. After a string of solid albums and twelve years later, the long-awaited sequel to the classic has finally arrived - and it is worth the wait.
In Pete Rock's last effort, 2009's NY's Finest, the touches of cool, collective jazz fusion were given a resonating boost in intensity - a break from the laid-back, industrial sounds of efforts past especially with the first PeteStrumentals. In the sequel, the relaxing, grimy sounds from earlier in Rock's career return - and the results are glorious. The melodic, dire pianos layered upon one another blending with the booming bass line and dark strings in the nostalgic "Heaven & Earth" is classic Pete Rock - delivering the grim, dirty essence of the streets of New York straight to your ears. The old-school, '90s-like presence is felt massively throughout the album, a trip 'straight back to memory lane' that you want to be apart of.
A hint of NY's Finest exists in PeteStrumentals 2, the interesting interludes that come after the main instrumental closes out. Their addition to the sequel only adds to the list of positives coming off the album, bringing a different flavor into the formula. The smoky electric guitar at the end of "Heaven & Earth" sends a Southern, vintage vibe that is certain to leave you in awe as it quietly ends. The same goes with the funk paradise "Cosmic Slop", a more mechanical backdrop with a plethora of slimy, groovy synths spilling on each other like goo - featuring a smoky, fuzzy keyboard with an intriguing, haunting "please" breaking as it slowly creeps into its dark end.
PeteStrumentals 2 is one of the best hip-hop releases of 2015, easily taking the spot for the best instrumental hip-hop release for the year. With over 20 tracks loaded in this album, capturing the dark, gritty, and towering atmosphere of New York once more as the original did or besting it - this is certainly a must-want for not just hip-hop fans in general, but for the dreamers who just want to express themselves with their lines and otherwise all across the globe. The streets are once again brought back to life, thanks to the visually-encapsulating instrumentation delivered upon by Mount Vernon's finest.