Thanks to the Oscars, mainstream America may just be finding out, but Memphis has been holding their own on the music side of the things for a while now. Part of the Hypnotized Camp Posse, which also includes Three 6 Mafia, Lil Wyte, and newly added Frasier Boy, Project Pat has played an essential role in keeping Memphis Hip-Hop on the map. Beginning with his first release, 1999’s Ghetty Green, and his continued features on Three Six Mafia’s albums, Pat has solidified himself as one of the town’s premier players. With his third album, 2002’s Mista Don’t Play he joined the South’s burgeoning commercial movement getting heavy video/radio airplay on major radio/tv stations for his single “Chickenhead” featuring La Chat.
While the past three years have seen that movement of southern hip-hop explode beyond its regional borders, Pat has been unable to fully enjoy the fruits of his labor. In January of 2001, Pat was pulled over for speeding when police found two revolvers under the seat of his SUV. Convicted on two counts of firearm possession as a felon, he was sentenced to four years in a Federal Corrections Facility. Quiet since his release on July 28, 2005, he speaks on the “humbug” that landed him in prison, his plans for his new album, why there’s still a lot more to come out of the South, and what defines the Memphis sound we’ve come to him love him for.
Click here to watch what Pat talk about Southern music today.
AllHipHop.com: For the people who don’t know, tell us where you’ve been.
Project Pat: I’ve been in a federal correctional facility.
AllHipHop.com: What is the reason the government had for locking you up?
Project Pat: Well, the government always has their reasons. I got caught with two guns. It was really a cold humbug, you know what I’m sayin’. And how they was trying to portray it was [that] I was some gangsta in Memphis. [Since] I’m rappin’ about gangsta stuff, that made me a gangsta.
AllHipHop.com: So they used your lyrics in court?
Project Pat: Well, they were gonna use my lyrics if I testified. They had the CDs out. I had a copy. The judge had a copy. All that. But to me it was testifying for my own behalf. They said, “If you get up and say anything, we’re gonna put this CD here and it’s a wrap.”
AllHipHop.com: Did you think that was fair?
Project Pat: Nah, I didn’t think that was fair because they were sayin’ that they were gonna show something they call “an affinity for guns” – meaning, because I talk about ‘em so much, it’ll show that I love ‘em.
AllHipHop.com: I know that I’ve seen Project Pat on videos and heard you on records and sitting here with you, I see you possess a whole different persona than I think folks would expect. What would you say is the difference between you as an entertainer and you as just Pat?
Project Pat: Well, it’s just a job. It’s just like Al Pacino played Carlito in Carlito’s Way. It’s a job. Al Pacino’s not a gangster. He’s an actor. You gotta look at it like this, I tell y’all rap tales and hood tale,s and some of the tales be similarly true and a lot of the tales guys can relate to. Some of the things I’ve done, somebody else did, or I know about, but all in all anything on me it had to have been the past. I’m not out here doing it now. You can’t be out here selling crack on the corners and rappin’.
AllHipHop.com: So what’s in the works now?
Project Pat: Well the plan of action for now is to finish this album, Project Pat the Fed Story: Crook by the Book.
AllHipHop.com: Why the title?
Project Pat: The reason why it’s called what it’s called is because they was tryin’ to portray me as some kind of gangsta. If I was really gonna be a gangsta like that, I’m gonna crook by the book. I’m not gonna rap about the stuff and put the stuff out there like I’m doin’ the stuff that I’m tellin’ folks I’m doing. That’s not being crook by the book, that’s dumb.
AllHipHop.com: So how soon is the album going to drop?
Project Pat: I hear this summer. Sometime like August. That’s what I hear, but who knows.
AllHipHop.com: Define a “humbug” for those who don’t know what a humbug is.
Project Pat: See, one thing about dudes that consider themselves real street dudes, [they] only caught up by a snitch or a humbug. A humbug is like, you wasn’t on nothin’. Say you was just riding, and you wasn’t on nothin’, but you meant to put the piece up-you was just going to the store, or Krystal’s, or White Castle or something and then all of a sudden, you get pulled over. You got your tags. You got your license, you ain’t even on nothing and then for some stupid reason your partna who had in the car the night before left a blunt in the ashtray. Police look and say, “Gotta search the car!” Humbug. That’s all that is.
AllHipHop.com: Was it a b***h not being able to be present while the crew was winning the Oscar with Hustle and Flow or did it not matter to you?
Project Pat: Now I ain’t gonna lie to ya, it mattered, you know what I’m sayin? But you know, you don’t wanna do a day in jail no matter what you doin’. Yeah, it did matter, but I was cool with it and I was glad that it happened like it did. You know, I just consider it all a blessing. You know Three 6 Mafia won the Oscar and all that. That’s a blessing, man. That’s like, "What?" I’m talking bout, "What!"
AllHipHop.com: What’s different in Hip-Hop now than before you went in three years ago?
Project Pat: [The] big difference is I got out, and Paul and Juice was like, “Hooks are different.” I’m used to making hooks with longer bars, but the hooks have shortened all the way up. You can just say one word or one line, and it’s a wrap. Which is cool ‘cause it makes s**t easier, but then I had to get used to it cause I wasn’t used to that. I was used to sayin a line and the next line you get off into the meat of the hook. Now. you just straight to the point.
AllHipHop.com: Why do you think that is? Attention Deficit Syndrome?
Project Pat: That’s what we said. N***as is just out here getting high. They want you to get straight to the point.
AllHipHop.com: Now, the South wasn’t cracking like it is now when you went in–
Project Pat: Nah, it was but it wasn’t like now. For now, I’m just so glad to see that the South done just rose all the way up like cream all the way past the clouds. It’s super good out here now. When I was locked up, I was seein’ all them dudes in Atlanta and Houston that I knew was underground dudes that was finally starting to get on. I’d watch BET and on Rap City, it was like out of 20 videos, the South was on there like 17 times. I was glad to see that.
AllHipHop.com: When you spoke about the South you said seeing it on top made you feel good. Do you think there’s a difference with the way rappers act towards each other down South than up North? Many would say up North folks are more for self. A lot of Southern attribute the South winning right now to their fraternity and unity, do you agree?
Project Pat: I believe because it’s a lot of uncharted waters in the South. I know dudes out of Arkansas, and there’s dudes from a lot of different little towns. I know dudes in Alabama. There’s a lot of different areas that ain’t came out yet. And the South don’t sound exactly the same. You know Texas and Memphis, the music is not exactly the same. I mean it’s all bumpin’, but it’s not the same music. Everybody in the South got a different style. On the East coast New York is the capital, it’s like, that’s it. That’s what you getting and it’s a wrap. I understand that, because New York’s market is so big. New York market is huge. But the South is like-there’s a lot of different areas where people ain’t came out. Like say a dude come out of Arkansas, where the red dirt at. You know Arkansas is the razorback state. You know ‘bout them hogs? I’m waiting on somebody to bump outta Little Rock. I know they gonna bump.
AllHipHop.com: What do you think has been keeping them from that?
Project Pat: It’s just ain’t they time just yet. It’s comin’ though. I heard a lot of dudes in Arkansas with fire. I’m tryin’ to tell you. There’s a lot of dudes in Tennessee that ain’t come out yet.
AllHipHop.com: Three 6 has been underground for so long, I think folks figure y’all are happy not to blow.
Project Pat: Well see, the South don’t trip cause we ‘bout money. Not that other dudes ain’t bout money, but you know if we getting money in the underground, we not trippin’. We just about the money. That’s why you got so many independent labels in the South.
AllHipHop.com: Lastly you said Memphis music is different than Texas music, which is different than New York music. You and Three 6 really helped to define the Memphis Hip-Hop sound so how would you describe that sound?
Project Pat: Memphis got a gutter type sound and you know Memphis is 90% Black and it’s a Soul city. But Memphis music is a dark sound. It’s a gutter sound. It’s dark. So a dude can hear it in Baltimore, and much love to guys in Baltimore ‘cause a lot of Baltimore n***as wrote me. Baltimore n***as is good niggas, and it’s dark in Baltimore. So a Baltimore n***a can hear that sound, and he feel that pain. He feel that gutter and he may have never been to Memphis but he’ll say, “Man it’s like that down there?” It’s just like that down there. And he here’s it and says, “Man I can relate to that. I can relate to that.” And he just clicks in. It’s just like anywhere else. Like Brooklyn, you know what I’m sayin’? Brooklyn hear that gutter and they be like, “Man I feel that, son!” ‘Cause it works vice versa. When Biggie came out, I felt that. I felt that man. I felt that. I mean, you gonna feel that.