Five Best Songs From Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s ‘The Main Ingredient’ Album
Pete Rock & CL Smooth are one of the most underrated rap duos in hip-hop history. Coming out of Mt. Vernon, N.Y., during the early 1990s, the group was groomed under the tutelage of Heavy D And the Boyz’s producer Eddie F.
Rapper CL Smooth handled the bulk of the mic work while Pete Rock was in charge of the production. The rap tandem would craft a number of timeless tracks, including the de-facto b-boy memorial, ‘They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.),’ from their classic 1992 debut album, ‘Mecca and the Soul Brother.’
The pair would solidify their standing as one of the most respected groups in the rap game with their second album, ‘The Main Ingredient,’ which was released on Nov. 8, 1994.
The LP boasts three hit singles and a bevy of album cuts that went on to become fan-favorites as well. Unfortunately, despite the group’s critical acclaim, Rock and CL decided to call it quits in 1995, due to creative differences.
Since today marks 20 years since this landmark album blessed the tape decks and earbuds of rap enthusiasts worldwide, we took on the dreaded task of selecting what we feel are the five most memorable tracks from the album.
Feel free to send us some Advil for all of our trouble, we could sure use it at this point. So without further adieu, here’s our picks.
‘All the Places’
Pete Rock and CL Smooth take us on a musical journey with the sublime ‘All the Places.’ Soul Brother No. 1 provides a laid-back jam that samples Donald Byrd’s ‘Places and Spaces’ for The Mecca Don to wax poetic over. On it, CL speaks of 24 hour gambling spots and burners tucked in the sock as he gives us a vivid view of his Mt. Vernon stomping grounds. Dropping dope couplets like, “Are you ready for the legendary, crazy, rugged, rated raw / Known to be the spook who sat by the door” on top of one of the more refined soundbeds featured on the album. While the track may lack some of the lyrical bite of tracks like ‘Sun Won’t Come Out,’ overall, ‘All the Places’ is more than memorable in its own right and nabs a spot in the top five.
‘I Got A Love’
‘The Main Ingredient”s kick-off single, ‘I Got A Love,’ is also one of the album’s standout cuts. The song sees CL rhyming about a cutie he’s been crushing on hard, with mentions of horseback rides and wining-and-dining while going dutch peppered throughout. While the verses may be airtight, the track’s main draw is the scratched-up samples, courtesy of the Soul Brother, of course, that are featured on the hook and impossible not to get stuck in your head.
“Don’t tease me, just please me” are Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s message on ‘Searching.’ CL takes his aim at the ladies on this smooth rap ballad, spitting sweet nothings in the ears of shorties worldwide. Rock provides a serene backdrop, utilizing a sample of Roy Ayers’ 1976 hit ‘Searching’ for this booming production. Hard-hitting drums, thumping bass and melodic background vocals are present on this song in all of their splendor. CL lays down some game for the fellas with absolute finesse.
Pete Rock and CL give us quality boom-bap with the ominous ‘Escape.’ The Chocolate Boy Wonder drops a few bars for added reinforcement and shows he’s no slouch himself on the mic. “Check the verse in the bible, says ‘Man should never covet’ / But in ya life, you put nothing above it, you seem to love it / Invest some stocks to clock what’s in my stable, sweating me like Caine sweating Abel, ya’ unstable,” he raps. CL rocks steady as usual, but actually gets outshined by Rock, whose rap skills are often underrated if not slept on.
‘Take You There’
Released as the second single from the album, ‘Take You There’ is the equivalent of audio excellence. Deciding to turn up the tempo and give us something for the dance floor as well as the jeeps, CL provides three precise verses full of fly slick talk and a flow smoother than his namesake. “My whole mindstate gravitates a weapon, making people in the business get a misconception / It ain’t hard to the core, it ain’t sex on the beach / It’s just another plateau that brothers have to reach,” he raps, dropping food for thought amid a slew of witty quips. Crystal Johnson, the singer featured on the chorus, is the song’s X-Factor, as she lays down an infectious hook. The single may have failed to set radio on fire (peaking at No. 76 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart), but remains an undisputed rap classic.