Introducing ‘Notes from Mr. Sandman‘ – a column slapping a spotlight on lyricists overlooked, under appreciated, or just plain criminally slept on. Or like a man named Nas once said, “I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death.” Enter Mr. Sandman with what y’all missed while chasing the REM dragon.
Cool Calm Pete‘s delivery pulls you in from the moment you hear it. It’s slick, unflappable and effortless – disinterested almost with the way he languidly goes about it. There isn’t anyone else to compare him to, he stands alone on this desert island of creativity where huge palms of science fiction, broken relationships and self-deprecation come sprouting out from the ground. All that nonchalance, however, seems to find its counter when you check the depth of the rhyme skills.
He got his start with Babbletron, a short lived rap group from New York who needs to regroup at some point for the good of rap. Their album Mechanical Royalty is something of a lost relic boasting production from RJD2 and Doom. It unravels like a crazy sci-fi film – on its own wavelength, humorous and deep like it were made in collaboration with Doc Brown and Marty McFly.
Pete is the shining neutron hands down. On the “The Clock Song” he melts over an RJD2 beat like butter over a stack of hotcakes. His verse is just left of center and finishes with the type of punch that would make you think he were a ten year vet: [LISTEN]
While Babbletron was a solid launching pad Pete needed his own ship to man, and it came in the the form of his solo debut Lost. The album is primarily produced by Pete, and features few guests (only heads that he’s worked with in the past make an appearance). It’s a synergistic project with direction and a clear vision, an excursion that finds peace with mischievous antics and wild relationships, both good and bad.
“Two A.M.” in particular sounds like it could have been written after a long night of drinking, which is to say that the alcohol in the writing is effervescent and can be heard dripping from each verse. Those crying violins adding a nice dose of humor to the mix: [LISTEN]
Pete finds a unique niche in the relationship dramas, he’s the Murakami of rap – elusive, mysterious and full of subtle humor. He’s an artist who’s not afraid to fall flat on his face because the bounce-back is always ferocious and poignant.
That sliver of vulnerability stands out because it’s a good counter to all the braggadocio that’s out there, just one dude trying to keep it real amongst phonies. And while Pete doesn’t look to be releasing an album anytime soon (but who knows), he does have a knack for dropping a nugget here and there to remind you that he still knows how to take a punch. His remix of Sharon Jones’ “Stranded in Your Love” being the perfect laugh-track remedy for those post-breakup blues: [LISTEN]