Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth are a hip-hop duo from Mount Vernon, New York. They made their debut with their 1991 EP, All Souled Out and followed with 1992's Mecca and the Soul Brother LP.
As a producer, DJ Pete Rock (Peter Phillips) tended to prefer obscure soul and jazz sides for sample sources, frequently making use of horn-driven hooks. Lead vocalist CL Smooth (Corey Penn) tended to be philosophical in his raps, and he mostly avoided profanity. Their signature hit was "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)", a dirge for fallen friends--namely Troy "Trouble T-Roy" Dixon, a member of Heavy D & The Boyz, who died in 1990.
1994's The Main Ingredient was the follow up, and they appeared on a string of guest appearances for remixes, soundtracks, and other works. Public Enemy, EPMD, Heavy D and Johnny Gill were among the artists they collaborated with, and they can also claim credit for producing (and performing on) Run-DMC's 1993 comeback single 'Down with the King'. Despite all this, the duo failed to go gold on any of their own releases.
Separating in 1995 (shortly after a Sprite TV commercial), they eventually worked together again on a handful of cuts from Pete Rock's solo recordings: Soul Survivor (1998), PeteStrumentals (2001) and Soul Survivor II (2004). They also went on a brief reunion tour as a warm up for their then-anticipated new album, which ended with a show at London's famous Jazz Cafe. Despite these intermittent collaborations, the pair has exchanged dismissive comments toward each other in separate interviews, disavowing plans for a full-fledged reunion.
Their best-of compilation, Good Life, was released on Elektra/WEA in 2003.
During this time span CL Smooth went on to release two solo albums - American Me in 2006 and The Outsider in 2007. Pete Rock would produce beats for a myriad of artists, including CL Smooth's It's a Love Thing and Love is a Battlefield from each of his solo albums. Pete has since confirmed that among his promised new slew of releases in 2011 that one of the albums will be the 3rd album between himself and CL Smooth.
A deluxe CD box-set of Mecca and the Soul Brother was released in September 2010 by Traffic. The package includes a remastered CD of the original album, a second disc of remixes, instrumentals and acapellas, a fold-out poster and a detailed booklet with interviews and insights from Rock and Smooth by Brian Coleman.
In late 2010, Pete Rock & CL Smooth finally ended their creative differences after fifteen years of being at odds with each other. The duo has officially reunited for the sake of hip-hop and are respectfully working with each other again. The death of hip-hop pioneer Guru earlier in the year was a major catalyst which lead to inspiring the reunion. Pete Rock & CL Smooth wanted to avoid the fate which Gang Starr tragically ended with, as Guru had not been on speaking terms with DJ Premier for roughly seven years and ultimately succumbed to cancer before their differences could be absolved.
While touring in London with CL Smooth in December, Pete Rock has stated that a new Pete Rock & CL Smooth album is already in the works and will be released in 2011 as soon as it is completed. The album will be the duo's fourth album and first album after seventeen years since 1994's The Main Ingredient.