Flashback Fridays: a best kept secret from The Chocolate Boy Wonder

By Anton Constantinou 


Flashback Fridays celebrates everything old skool and timeless about hip hop: classic tracks,  vintage flicks, past gigs. Each week we’ll be diggin’ in the crates to bring you the best throwback shizzle on offer. Enjoy!

Legendary producer, Pete Rock has his fair hidden gems and lost classics, but none are more intriguing than the nameless joint he put out on the final run of the Arsenio Hall Show in 1994-  an instrumental, which, to this day, remains something of a best kept secret it seems. As featured on the famous ‘Hip Hop All-Stars’ cypher – which comes in at the end of the show (below) –  it’s a catchy head bopping boom bap beat, which masterfully interpolates Bob James classic Nautilus.

To date, Nautilus remains one most frequently sampled songs in hip hop history. It’s been used by everyone from Tribe, to Premier, Lupe, to Wu Tang- all of whom have re-crafted  it in their own unique way.  Even Rock himself has dabbled with it to excess- working it in to tracks like Sun Wont Come Out  and The Rap World. The big appeal of the sample is its sense of dark conjuring: a spellbinding mix of flute, vibraphone and  funky guitar riffs. Throw in some heavy drums and a few snares and you have the mysterious Pete Rock beat in question.

When we say mysterious, we mean it. We’ve scoured the net high and low trying to find this track in a downloadable format, and of late are yet to come up trumps. Saying that, we have spotted it in a number of surprise places. For instance, it was the theme tune on the ’95 run of Rap City; The Lox also used it 2008 for It’s Like That. A pure, unadulterated, vocal free version of the instrumental doesn’t seem to exist though- at least, not to our knowledge. The closest matches we’ve found are these two Youtube remakes (both with different drum loops):

In our desperate attempts to decipher it’s origins, we even tweeted Rock directly- he’s yet to come back to us, but we hope, after reading this post, he might spill the beans.  Till then, lets savour the mystery and enjoy the best damn Nautilus flip on the planet!



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