Published Jun 26, 2011The duo of Tek and Steele have had their share of hard times. Despite recording one of the best East coast records ever (Dah Shinin'), they languished in label hell and weak production for years. Monumental aims to right this, uniting the duo with boom-bap ambassador Pete Rock. The album is a return to the one-producer formula that made Smif 'N Wessun an NYC fixture. Pete Rock supplies Tek and Steel with the knocking jazz, soul chops and adamantium drums that earned him the title "Soul Brother Number One." "That's Hard" links razor-sharp verses from Styles P and Sean Price over a military flute and violin loop, with a heavy low-end. "Prevail" starts sluggish until the beat flips to shivery strings and military percussion for Raekwon's verses. "Nighttime" embodies the late night creep, as a re-energized Buckshot and Pete join SNW over cascading Spanish guitar and eerie keys. Despite being joined by guests ranging from Bun B to Freeway on all but four songs, the focus stays on Pete's masterful beats and Tek and Steele's impassioned street knowledge. Monumental is a comeback done right and a must-cop for anyone still rocking black Timberlands in the summertime.
Why a Pete Rock/Smif 'N Wessun record now?
Pete Rock: Because it's necessary. It's needed.
Steele: We put down a list of producers we wanted to work with, to try to capture another sound, and Pete's name kept popping out. All praises to the most high it came together. We actually worked with him on a second album, but it never came to play because of label politics.
Tek: As long as it took us to make the album, it came at the right time, because if the album came any sooner it wouldn't have been what it is.
Describe the recording process.
Pete Rock: I came with some music first and I let the guys pick what they want. They vibe to it, they get the beat and come back with a song. Sometimes they wrote in the studio too.
Steele: The funny thing about it, this album wasn't a bunch of writing processes; we had the blueprint of what we wanted to do and we just followed it. Once we got into the studio, we were finishing two to three songs a day on average. (Duck Down)