Don't Smoke Rock, Pt. II: Pete Rock Loves Hulk, Superpowers + Music [Interview]
When you combine the superpowers of your favorite comic book heroes with the abilities of your favorite hip-hop artists — the results can be truly incredible. Like superheroes, rappers and MCs use their gifts to save the world, one soul at a time. Music is a power. We continued our chat with Soul Brother #1 — Pete Rock — about his love for comic books, his relationship with the comics industry and hip-hop.
Okayplayer: Have you seen Marvel’s Doctor Strange yet?
Pete Rock: Of course I did! You know, Dr. Strange, he is one of the great Marvel classic characters. To bring his actual movie forth where you can be in the theater watching the story – it’s way beyond the comic book. Being a collector of comics and seeing these comic books turn into movies is an absolute surprise.
OKP: Do you think directors have done a good job of translating the characters and stories from comic books to the big screen?
PR: Some of them do… Some of the movies—I have to admit—are pretty mediocre. Maybe there have been a few bad ones out there, too. The first Ghost Rider [film] I thought could have been better. The first Daredevil [film] could have been better as well.
OKP: With that in mind, how do you feel about the film adaptation of Doctor Strange…?
PR: It was good. They basically told the story of his hands. Y’know, how his hands were destroyed and how even with him being a doctor, he couldn’t do his work.
OKP: Can you relate to Strange’s story in any way?
PR: Of course I can. Everything has some type of subliminal when you can take it for yourself and apply it to your life. But you know, people think “comic book,” they think certain things can’t be true. A lot of it is fictional [and] a lot of it is just adventurous kid stuff. But, y’know, there are some subliminal in movies at times.
OKP: So, how does Doctor Strange apply to your life specifically?
PR: Well, I need my hands to make music. Like, when I deejay. I couldn’t imagine what kind of career I would have had without my hands. I probably wouldn’t have any as far as being a DJ is concerned, [but] you can still make music in your mind.
OKP: If you had to choose between fame and fortune or ridding the world of evil — which one would you choose?
PR: Saving the world. It is kind of what we do in music form, in hip-hop form. We give people good music for their soul. People don’t realize that music is also a power, especially if you know how to make good music and get people to vibe out to your stuff. That’s a great thing!
OKP: What is your favorite comic book movie of all time?
PR: My favorite character is the The Incredible Hulk, so I would probably have to say the first Avengers movie is my favorite. And then you know, X-Men, Spider-Man, Blade and Iron Man [round out the list].
OKP: What comic book character do you relate to most? How so?
PR: [It would] probably [be] a mix between the Falcon and Spider-Man. Well, [to me], Spidey is like a regular guy even when he is in the spider-suit. You know he has an aunt and he has an uncle. He has friends and he goes to school. And, on top of that, he is a scientist with spider-powers, y’know, super powers! I have a superpower, I believe, and that is making music and giving back to the hip-hop community.
OKP: And there is something scientific in making music, too, yes?
PR: Right. The reason why I love comic books and collect them is because it relates to what I do in music, I believe. If you listen to Wu-Tang, they talk a lot about Marvel characters. They actually named themselves after Marvel characters, so it is a big inspiration for us to be super. If it is not a reality to fly in the air then we have to do it somewhere else where it is a reality [for us] and that is in hip-hop.
OKP: [In past interviews] I’ve read that you prefer Marvel over DC Comics… why is that?
PR: I feel they have more interesting characters and more interesting villains. With DC [Comics], I love Batman and I love The Flash. I’m not saying [that] I don’t like the others, but there is just something about Marvel characters. They are just more interesting.
OKP: How have comic books inspired your individual sound?
PR: Probably just taking on some of the clichés that I see in comic books and using them in hip-hop. It is just taking your imaginary mind somewhere within the music, and that’s how I deal with it. It is not a must. Comic books are just something that I collect and that I love experiencing. And once in a while, I love looking at them and showing them to my son. He loves them, too. He actually didn’t know they were books before he saw the movies, so he was bugging out, looking at all the comics like, “Wow, OK!”
Stay tuned for our final interview with Pete Rock and Smoke DZA which will run on December 2. Pre-order the album, Don’t Smoke Rock, before it hits stores by clicking here.
Layne Weiss is a Los Angeles-based author whose work has appeared in a number of publications including LA Weekly, Paper Mag, Wax Poetics and Mass Appeal. You can follow her (and us!) latest and greatest on Twitter @lawflylikepaper.