Pete Rock — “It was J Dilla’s ‘Donuts’ that made me do ‘Petestrumentals 2′” | RWD (2023)

Pete Rock — “It was J Dilla’s ‘Donuts’ that made me do ‘Petestrumentals 2′” | RWD (1)

It’s rare to hear an artist releasing a record based purely off the requests of fans, yet since legendary Mount Vernon hip-hop producer Pete Rock released his acclaimed instrumental record, Petestrumentals, back in 2011, listeners have been begging for more. “People just want to hear it,” he says of the decision to make a sequel. “So from the requests I put that back out there. The first one was a great one, so why not continue it with this one?”

The self-proclaimed Soul Brother #1 — known for his work with CL Smooth, his signature remixes and his approach to fusing jazz elements into the east coast hip-hop sound — makes music out of necessity, collecting and chopping up records like it’s his calling. As a result Rock has amassed a tonne of unheard music, archived away since the 90’s. It’s a testament to the timelessness of Pete’s production, that these beats can be dusted off over 15 years later, and still sound like they could be the result of yesterday’s studio session. But don’t be fooled, Petestrumentals 2 — as the first volume — is a time capsule for another era. This is just a fraction of the music that has slipped away through the cracks of the millennium, just to be resurrected now.

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“I just pick beats out that I feel sound good, and I make instrumentals out of them,” says Pete nonchalantly, as though it’s child’s play. “The music becomes the basic vocal in that series. It’s an actual continuation [of the first volume] -the same exact thing but continued on in part two. Petestrumentals is a lifestyle album, it’s an inspirational album that you apply to your life.”

The inspiration to go back in for a second time wasn’t only for the fans though. As we delve further, he reveals the still hungry artist that was struck with inspiration and drove him to create. “I’d made [the first] Petestrumentals without listening to nobodies stuff,” he begins. “[But] it was [J Dilla’s] Donuts that made me do Petestrumentals 2. Donuts sent a shockwave through the industry of ‘Ahh ok, we’ve got some instrumentalists as producers.’ And this guy, Dilla, when he did Donuts man, it was amazing. That’s what made me say ‘You know what, I’ll do Petestrumentals again.’”

He vividly remembers when he first heard the wonky opening of Dilla’s game-changing LP, the stuttering vocals cutting back and forth until they sound like they’re spewing out the Detroit prodigy’s name. He recalls sitting through the 43 minute whirlwind of of sonic flavours. “Boy was I blown away. I didn’t expect to hear that. I knew Dilla was dope but damn!! I played that album to death, and I still do. It was a cleverly made instrumental album. The way he was doing things… it’s always the way that has you like ‘Wow, did you hear what he did?’”

In a world of constant visibility and inflated egos, it has become a rarity that artists will reveal their influences so readily and unabashedly. And in this case, the storyline is even rarer; the master has become the apprentice. Dilla grew up listening to Pete Rock, wanting to be like him — and since he was tragically stolen away by a rare blood disease, his idol has carried the torch. In 2009, Rock assisted Dilla’s mother Maureen Yancey in crafting the posthumous LP Jay Stay Paid, which saw the two mining away at Dilla’s computers and tapes to unearth unheard gems, extending ideas from Dilla’s genius that Rock would flesh out into completed tracks. These would then be arranged and mixed by Rock into the album, which plays through like a radio show. While Pete had met Dilla during his lifetime, it wasn’t until he met Maureen that he would fully realise the influence he’d had on her son. “I was floating when his moms first told me that. You know, on the inside I was floating, you couldn’t see how I really felt on the outside, but I showed gratitude and respect. But on the inside I was like ‘Wow man, that makes me feel good.’”

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And while he might be able to hold himself from geeking out in person, he doesn’t shy away from paying homage. Petestrumentals 2 wears the influence of Donuts proudly on its sleeve: a collection of twenty instrumentals that play through in an hour, with names like ‘Cosmic Slop’, ‘Play Yo Horn’ and ‘Dilla Bounce’, the tracks wouldn’t look out of place on one of Dilla’s own tracklists. However, keeping to Rock’s signature style, things are a little less rough around the edges than the Detroit producers rough and ready beat style, with smoother and beats often stretching a bit longer than one of Dilla’s ‘Donut’s’.

Aside from Donuts, Jay Stay Paid and the first volume of Petestrumentals, Rock admits that he hasn’t spent too much time listening to the vast output of instrumental hip-hop albums that were left in Dilla’s wake. “Maybe Alchemist had some instrumental albums that I liked,” he says racking his brains. “Not too many people did them, but myself and Dilla, and then I think people caught on and started doing them when they heard Petestrumentals and Donuts and shit. I listen to real instrumentalists, like jazz artists, a lot of jazz. I listen to soul music, I even listen to bollywood. I listen to brazilian soul, and jazz, and your normal R&B even Blues records. Rest in peace to B.B. King, he was one of the greatest artists ever, to ever hit the genre of blues music. B.B. King always stood out.”

He also makes an effort to listen to the majority of modern day hip-hop releases. “I listen to everything. Whether I like it or not, I still listen, because it’s a part of my job.” he says. “And I do things kind of almost the same way, but with the Pete Rock twist which throws it off for everyone. That way they can’t say ‘Well that sounds similar to this…’ No it doesn’t! This is all new. It makes me feel great because I’ve done my homework in this game.” Known for his classic remixes of tracks by the likes of Big L, EPMD, Gang Starr, House Of Pain, Nas and Public Enemy, he still hears plenty of music that he’d like to put his own spin on — but perhaps not for the same reasons as he wanted to in the 90’s. “I wish I could remix everybody’s wack song,” he half-jokes, adding: “Not to be disrespectful, but I would love to reconstruct a lot of music that I hear.”

A current MC that he does hold in high esteem though, is Kendrick Lamar, who’s To Pimp A Butterfly album he’s had in heavy rotation. He even appears on the track ‘Complexion’ which he added some vocals and scratching to. “It was an honour for him to even want me to be down with that,” says Rock. “It all happened through a phonecall. I was working with Ab-Soul and one thing lead to another. We hooked up and I started sending beats to his email, and I think that’s probably what made him say, ‘Let me get Pete to do some scratches, and get him in the hook on something.’ It was beautiful.”

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While Pete Rock doesn’t come across as egotistical or big-headed, the fact that he continues to thrive doesn’t surprise him. I ask whether, when he and CL Smooth were preparing to drop their debut Mecca & The Soul Brother back in 1992, he’d have ever imagined himself over twenty years later still gearing up to drop an anticipated new full-length.

“I did,” he answers. “Because I loved it so much that I thought I would be doing this the rest of my life. I can’t foretell the future, but I felt like if I stayed in my lane and still showed compassion to my fans then I’d still be around. People want to hear good music, and that’s what’s important when I’m in the studio making music. I make sure that I put my best foot forward. I believe that longevity is the key for me, and it has been and it always will be. I would tell a younger producer the same thing, just to be passionate about this. Like you have to truly, truly love it in order to be successful in it.”

Petestrumentals 2 by Pete Rock

Petestrumentals 2 is out now via Mello Music Group.

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Follow Pete Rock on Twitter here.

Words by Grant Brydon

Originally published at

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Did J Dilla make donuts in the hospital? ›

The story of Donuts roots back to 2002, when Dilla was diagnosed with the incurable blood disease known as TTP, which he would battle and manage until his eventual passing. It was during a drawn-out hospital stay in summer 2005 that Donuts came to be.

How many samples does J Dilla Donuts have? ›

By analyzing his compositional process through selected tracks on his seminal (and final) album Donuts, I will be exploring how Dilla used over seventy-five samples from a variety of music genres and artists to create a sonic collage that is one of the most influential instrumental works of hip-hop genre.

What is the oldest donut company? ›

Krispy Kreme was founded by Vernon Rudolph (1915–1973), who bought a yeast-raised recipe from a New Orleans chef, rented a building in 1937 in what is now historic Old Salem in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and began selling to local grocery stores.
Krispy Kreme.
Krispy Kreme in Cannington, Western Australia
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Who made the original donut? ›

Captain Hanson Gregory (1832-1921) created the donut as a teen while trying to feed a crew of sailors — and changed American culinary culture forever.

What sampler did Dilla use on donuts? ›

Twenty-nine of the album's thirty-one tracks were recorded in J Dilla's hospital room, using a 45-rpm record player and a Boss SP-303 sampler.

What sampler did Dilla use? ›

An AKAI MPC 3000 Limited Edition integrated rhythm machine, drum sampler, and midi sequencer used by record producer and artist J Dilla.

What are Dookie donuts? ›

The Dookie is a cookie shaped doughnut stuffed with a naughty filling and decorated in a way that matches its flavour. Once you bite through the chocolate exterior you can expect a soft dough with a mouthwatering centre. They are each served with a dip to add to that naughtiness and to level up that eating experience.

What is the #1 donut in America? ›

The Overall Fan Favorite with more votes than any other donut shop was Rise 'n Roll Bakery, based in Indiana. Their Cinnamon Caramel Donut was voted far and away the most popular donut in America.

What is America's number one donut? ›

According to Google users, glazed donuts reign supreme as the most popular donut.

What is the most popular donut brand in America? ›

According to this statistic, 63.83 million Americans consumed Dunkin' Donuts in 2020.
U.S. population: Which brands of donuts / doughnuts do you eat most often?
CharacteristicNumber of consumers in millions
8 more rows
Jun 23, 2022

What was the original donut? ›

In the United States, the donut's roots date to the 1700s with the Dutch settlers' olykoek (oil cake), the “grandpa of the donut”.

What is the oldest donut franchise? ›

Krispy Kreme

The founder supposedly started the donut shop in 1937 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, after buying a secret yeast-raised recipe from a New Orleans chef.

Are Dunkin donuts baked or fried? ›

They do in fact, fry their donuts in oil. Beginning August 17, enjoy a $3 Medium Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew or Pumpkin Spice Signature Latte through September 13, 2022. We had fresh donuts delivered in every morning when I worked there, so yes.

Which is the original Voodoo doughnuts? ›

Voodoo Doughnut is an independently owned business in Portland and Eugene known for its off-kilter concoctions and unusual business philosophies. Owners Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson and Tres Shannon opened the flagship store in 2003 on Southwest Third Avenue in Old Town Portland.

What is the most Krispy Kreme donuts eaten? ›

Chestnut already holds a world-record for eating 55 glazed donuts in eight minutes. That's approximately 14,795 calories. “Joey Chestnut is known as the black hole of donut holes," Major League Eating emcee Sam Barclay said in announcing the competition.

What is a Bieber donut? ›

enter Justin Bieber. JB and Hortons created a line of doughnut holes with a name mashup -- Timbiebs Timbits. Justin himself was heavily involved in selecting the flavors, and they did not disappoint -- white fudge, sour cream chocolate chip and birthday cake waffle. Well, talk about a turnaround.

What sampler does Pete Rock use? ›

Akai S900 MIDI Digital Sampler.

What was the first affordable sampler? ›

The Akai S900 (1986) was the first truly affordable digital sampler. It was 8-note polyphonic and featured 12-bit sampling with a frequency range up to 40 kHz and up to 750 kB of memory that allowed for just under 12 seconds at the best sampling rate.

What was the first song to use sampling? ›

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the first song to use a sample was 'He's Gonna Step on You Again'. The 1971 song by South African musician John Kongos used a sample of a recorded African drumming track.

What do cops eat donuts? ›

But where does this cliche come from? Turns out, the connection of police to doughnuts was born from necessity well over 50 years ago. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, before the debut of 24-hour fast food and convenience stores, doughnuts were one of the few late-night options for cops working the graveyard shift.

Are donuts junkfood? ›

Easily identifiable examples of junk food include chips, doughnuts, candy, and cookies. But some products — such as sports drinks or breakfast bars — also meet the classification, as they're high in sugar and calories yet low in nutrients.

What is in a voodoo doll donut? ›

Voodoo Doll. Raised yeast doughnut filled with raspberry jelly, topped with chocolate frosting and a pretzel stake.

Who invented the jelly filled donut? ›

History. The first record of a jelly doughnut appeared in the Polish translation (Kuchmistrzostwo) of a German cookbook published in 1532.

Who invented the hot jam donut? ›

Background. Olympic Hot Doughnuts was started by Greek immigrant Nick Tsiligiris outside the Footscray station in the Irving St forecourt in 1979. For more than 40 years the business operated out of two run-down old caravans on the station forecourt, selling jam doughnuts for 80 cents each.

What artists did J Dilla produce for? ›

In the late 1990s, Dilla, Q-Tip and fellow Tribe Called Quest member Ali Shaheed Muhammad formed the Ummah, a production crew that provided tracks and remixes for artists including Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Busta Rhymes.

Who created Voodoo donuts? ›

Voodoo Doughnut is the brainchild of old friends and entertainment-minded Portlanders Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson and Tres Shannon. In 2000, they decided to embark on a shared entrepreneurial venture – something that combined quality hospitality with their daring do-it-yourself brand of show business.

Did the original donut have a hole? ›

The earliest “doughnuts” actually didn't have holes. Many believe Dutch settlers brought the first olykoek (“oil-ly cake”) to America when they landed in New Amsterdam (New York). These doughnuts were the same shape and size as our modern donuts, but they weren't shaped like a ring.

What are jelly donuts called in Germany? ›

A Berliner is a German jelly doughnut with no central hole, made from sweet yeast dough fried in lard or cooking oil, with a jam filling, and usually covered in powdered or conventional sugar.

Why do they put jelly in donuts? ›

The jelly comes in later during the 16th century, when sugar became cheap and Europe experienced a pastry revolution. That's when Polish Jews started adding jelly to the doughnuts that they ate on Hanukkah. RUDE: So eating fried delicious things on Hanukkah has been a tradition for centuries.

What is the jelly in jelly donuts? ›

Fill these golden, light-as-air yeasted donuts with your favorite strawberry or grape jelly and shower with powdered sugar before serving to oohs and aahs.

Who sold the first donut holes? ›

One of the most popular credits American seafarer Hanson Gregory with inventing the donut's hole in 1847 while aboard a lime-trading ship.

What did J Dilla suffer from? ›

James Yancey, the innovative and influential hip-hop producer known as J Dilla or Jay Dee, died on Friday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 32. The cause was cardiac arrest, according to his mother, Maureen Yancey. She said he had been suffering from lupus and had recently been hospitalized for pneumonia.

Is J Dilla the best producer of all time? ›

J Dilla is one of, if not, the greatest Hip Hop producer/s of all time. He was a massively influential artist who sadly passed away aged 32 in 2006 after a long battle with Lupus. Jay Dee's ability to create intricate and timeless beats and melodies in such a simplistic yet complex way separated him from the rest.

How long did it take J Dilla to make a beat? ›

Hearing that it took Dilla 12 minutes to make a track might make a young producer self-conscious of their output. According to Shoes, working at breakneck speed was an everyday thing for the Detroit producer. “Eighty to ninety percent of all these drops that people have heard, 15 minutes,” he said.

Which voodoo donut is the original? ›

The first opened in 2003 at 22 Southwest 3rd Avenue in the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood of Portland. To celebrate their fifth anniversary, Voodoo Doughnut opened a second branch at 1501 Northeast Davis Street named Voodoo Doughnut Too in the Kerns neighborhood.

What is so special about Voodoo Donuts? ›

Rain or shine this shop is extremely popular. If you want to skip the line, then call ahead and place your order. Your order will arrive in one of Voodoo's distinctive pink boxes. What makes Voodoo Donuts special is that in addition to being a taste sensation, each donut is infused with a sense of fun and personality.

Is Voodoo Donuts worth it? ›

One of the best things about Voodoo Doughnuts is its value for money. The individual doughnuts start at $1.50, which is unheard of for theme park snacks. To be sure, there are pricier options, but you can get a specialty doughnut, like the Voodoo Doll, for under $4.


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