These days, in the world of hip-hop, it ain't hard out there if you rep for the Dirty South. From the charts to the clubs to radio to this year's Academy Awards, the hardcore sounds of the Memphis-based Hypnotize Minds musical collective are moving up from the underground into the mainstream, defying industry expectations and creating a bona fide musical and cultural movement.
That the Dirty South is finally getting widespread respect comes as no surprise to veteran Hypnotize Minds rap artist Project Pat
. The brother of Three 6 Mafia
's Juicy J and a full-fledged member of the Hypnotize Camp Posse, Project Pat has been making memorable contributions to hip-hop since the late 1990s when he infused groundbreaking street recordings like the Tear Da Club Up Thugs' Crazyndalazdayz
with the unmistakable stamp of his reality-based flow.
"People are really into the South right now," Pat offers with pride, "and I knew that eventually they'd catch on to what we already knew. Down here everybody's got their own style and its good to see more guys from the South coming street."
The street is turf that Project Pat knows well. He came up hard, ran with a tough crowd and learned lessons they don't teach you in school. Though older and wiser now, with a rising income level and a platinum-selling solo album (2001's Mista Don't Play: Everythang's Workin'
) in his catalog, Pat's stayed true to the spirit of hip-hop, the grit of the streets and his own spiritual core.
After spending nearly four years in prison (for possession of a firearm), Project Pat is finally free, literally and figuratively, and he's using that freedom to express himself, live his life and keep his music real with the release of his highly-anticipated fourth full-length solo album, Crook By Da Book: The Fed Story
Project Pat brings his hardcore perspective to new heights on Crook By Da Book: The Fed Story
. With Three 6 Mafia's Juicy J and DJ Paul on-board as executive producers to add their signature sound to Pat's brutally honest hip-hop raps and grooves, Project Pat emerges as a street poet of the first order, speaking the truth and showing love and empathy for the souls of those locked in the grind trying to survive. With enlightened candor, Pat reflects on the bad times without regret while celebrating the good times with sincerity and gratitude.
When asked what his legions of fans from Crook By Da Book: The Fed Story
, Pat minces no words. "I'm still coming with all the different styles I've always had. I'm keeping it straight Memphis Dirty South, keeping it straight me," he says. "Being locked up really made see another side of the game clearer. All I've got to say to these young guys is that you can't win. You can't win in the streets and I always knew that. My dad used to tell me that but now I really see it. Knowing that and having been locked up means that I can get into more detail on certain things. I can add another layer to the cake."
The richness of detail is clear on the album's banging first single, "Good Googly Moogly" featuring DJ Paul and Juicy J. A funk-fortified balla track, "Good Googly Moogly" is custom made for a party and came to Pat in a moment of pure inspiration. "I was in the house and just made it up," Pat admits. "We didn't even know that it would be the one we was gonna roll with."
Pat gets down on "Two Dollar Nigga" which blows the whistle on the day-to-day realities of street life that don't make the news. "It's talking about guys who get locked up, who weren't even tough but they act that way," Pat says. "When they get out, young dudes look up to them and get all caught up in some dumb business. These older dudes lead those younger dudes down a bad path."
On the hardcore blaster, "Tell Tell Tell" featuring Lyfe, Young Jeezy
and Mr. Big, Project Pat spins a cautionary tale of what happens on the streets when someone's jaws get to flapping without paying attention to the consequences.
Before the Dirty South sound was making headlines, racking up platinum plaques and snagging Oscars, Project Pat was making his own music and creating his own buzz in his native Memphis. Working with his brother Juicy J (cofounder of the massively influential and popular Memphis hip-hop ensemble Three 6 Mafia), Pat carved out his own space as a member of the Hypnotize Minds posse. Although not an "official" member of Three 6 Mafia, Project Pat brought his indelible style to scores of the group's recordings including unforgettable appearances on Three 6 Mafia smash hits from "Sippin' On Some Syrup" to "Poppin' My Collar."
By the late 90s, Project Pat had become an integral component of the Memphis sound. In 1999, he dropped his first solo album, Ghetty Green
, which reached the #9 spot on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop chart.
Following his performance on the Three 6 Mafia breakthrough hit, "Sippin' On Some Syrup," in 2000, Pat went to work on a series of successes of his own. His next set of recordings, the under-rated hardcore mixtape manifesto, Murderers & Robbers, established him as a Memphis force to be reckoned with but it was 2001's Mista Don't Play: Everythang's Workin'
that catapulted Project Pat into chart-topping territory. Featuring the hit single, "Chickenhead" with Pat trading hot barbs with Three 6 female protégé La Chat, Mista Don't Play
debuted at #4 on the Billboard Top 200, selling more than 125,000 copies its first week. (The album also hit the #1 spot on the Billboard Independent albums chart and #2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop chart).
With the release of 2002's Layin' Da Smack Down
, Project Pat had secured his status as one of the Dirty South's true superstars. Seemingly destined for further artistic achievements and growing popular acceptance, Pat hit the wall of reality when the specter of his thug life past finally caught up with him. At the height of his success, Pat--who'd had run-ins with the law going back to his teens--was sent to federal prison on gun charges. The experience was sobering. "I was real bitter at first but I did a lot of praying and reading the Bible," Pat confesses. "I realized I didn't have no grudges and hard feelings. It don't do you no good." While inside the slammer, Pat managed to enjoy a few bright moments, most notably when he'd check out music video shows and see the emerging domination of southern hip-hop. "I was loving that," he says.
After his release from prison in late 2005, Pat spent a few months at a half-way house and, by January 2006, was in the studio working on his hip-hop tour de force, Crook By Da Book: The Fed Story
. When asked if he had any second thoughts about reentering an ever-morphing rap scene, Pat responds, "I wasn't really nervous. I've always liked to make music that goes straight to the point so even though I had to readjust to some of hip-hop's new styles, it didn't take long."
Rejuvenated as an artist and grateful for the lessons he's learned, Project Pat has come back with the strongest, deepest, most-potent album of his career. As ever, Pat pulls no punches. "The title of my album says the whole thing," he says. "I'm a crook by the book. Real criminals is in the shadows, I'm gonna put the gloves on before I load the gun up but…." And here, he pauses,"…even though that's what the prosecutors and some people might have thought I'm not even on that at all. That's gone. I ain't gonna lie. I'm just glad to be out to be with my wife and kids. God brought me though this and that's all behind me now. The mind of a gangster is a messed up, crazy mentality but that's how it is and that's how my mind was. I ain't on that no more. The way I see it? I got enough to say with my music so let's just be a rapper."
"Raised in the Projects" Video:Quicktime
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