Monday, October 21, 2013

Legends of Hip Hop: Pharcyde & KRS One

Saturday night, Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom was overflowing with hip hop heads, of all ages and ethnicities eager to witness one of hip hop's legends and pioneers KRS One as well as some of the OG members of Pharcyde. Mr. Vegas also performed in the connecting venue transforming Denver into little Jamaica. Luckily the lineup was so superb because the opening acts were abysmal. People were walking out left and right as this perpetrating white dude desperately tried to keep the crowd engaged. By 1130PM I was ready to leave altogether but the evening turned around once the clock striked 12.

Pharcyde took the stage first and provided an incredible performance of some of their major hits "Passin' Me By," "Runnin'" and "Drop." Their performance was live filled with real and coordinated dance moves, genuine interactions with the crowd and a beautiful sense of humbleness and grace. Kid Cudi recently addressed his disappointment with rap performances these days after the cancellation of Rock The Bells. He exclaimed that RTB fell off because "hip hop shows aren't exciting...people wanna smile and dance." Witnessing Pharcyde's dynamic and upbeat performance, all I could do was smile and enjoy myself. Pharcyde also had a segment where they played hip hop records that inspired them and the crowd went crazy rocking to "O.P.P." and "Award Tour" celebrating hip hop while also bigging up KRS One and their beloved producer J Dilla.

Mr. Vegas came on in the next room and it was a sight to see. Women were whining all over the dance floor and men were busting out their best moves. Complete with a bruk it down competition, some Kartel, Bob Marley and Mr. Vegas' classics, the performance was truly a Jamaican party set in Denver. I had never experienced that kind of international energy in Colorado until Mr. Vegas blazed the stage the way he did and it was intoxicating.

Finally by 130AM, KRS One made his appearance and it was well worth the wait. Freestyling, old school flow, and hip hop classics, it felt like the 80s and we were all in the Boogie Down Bronx in on a cypher. It was magical. Also KRS One's Jamaican roots being a major influence on his sound seamlessly tied together Mr. Vegas' dancehall performance as well as Pharcyde's classic hip hop celebration. He was the bridge of both worlds. "Sound of Da Police" was the highlight of his set as literally the entire audience joined in screaming the sirens while KRS commanded attention.

The evening, although with an incredibly late start, was enlightening. Hip hop has changed so much since its debut and a lot of people are praising Kendrick for his recent raw and uncensored verses and cyphers where he calls out his fellow rappers and disses other ones, but that's not what real hip hop is about. Its honoring the genre, celebrating each other and elevating the art. And Pharcyde and KRS One demonstrated that beautifully. Artists are too cocky and self-proclaimed to ever play music other than their own in their set, but it was truly humbling to see the generosity of each of the acts. I am all for shaking up the industry, but Cudi was right, rappers don't perform like they use to. The artists left everything on that stage and I left feeling no longer tired, but full of inspiration and joy for the genre that I am so in love with.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Interview with 36 Mafia Co-founder Project Pat

I sat down with rap veteran, Project Pat this week to discuss the release of his new mixtape Cheez n Dope 2 as well as get some insight on his longevity in the industry. With a 12-year and counting rap career, Project Pat had a lot to say about the rap game and his personal journey to success. Check out the interview below.

Where are you from?

I’m from Memphis, lower side of Memphis.

What was growing up in Memphis like?

Memphis is a 99.9% black city, it’s a blue collar city, you know it’s like a down south Detroit with all the gangs. It’s cool, but it’s real ghetto, super hood. It had all the elements, crack, cocaine and all that. I use to grow up fighting, two, three dudes at one time.

Who did you listen to growing up?

I listened to as far as rap, Too Short, Scarface, Master P, 8 ball, & Jay Z.

When did you first start rapping?

Juicy was doing underground tapes. And there was this one guy in Memphis that was rapping about stuff my partner did and he was winning, he got a little buzz in our side of the city and he was rapping about stuff my partner and them was doing and he ain’t do this! I said I might as well rap about my life. And then I seen the money Juicy was getting off these mixtapes and I said well I gotta get on, grab me something.

Did you always know you were going to become a rapper?

Naw, I wasn’t even on it like that. I wasn’t even on it like that at all.

Who’s inspiring you or influencing you? Who do you listen to now? Any genre besides hip hop?

I listen to the dudes coming up, the younger dudes. I like Dope P and Kevin Gates, I like the way they rap and they style, it’s real hard. I just like them because it’s different, it’s real street. I listen to them on the regular. I mess with them. I try to stay current and try to listen to people’s that’s coming out to see where the music is going. That’s my main thing, to see where the music is going.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the game?

Man, you gotta take the game the way it is. It’s not like back in the day where you make one song and sell a million records. However it is, you gotta deal with it cuz we in it. The subject’s the same, the music is a little different, You gotta get with the younger producers. But it’s changed tremendously. You use to be able to make a hit song and everybody would buy your album. Nowadays when one song cost .99 and gas is so damn high. Even if someone wanna buy the album, they gotta have gas in their car. If I got $30, I ain’t gonna buy a cd for $20. I’m gonna put that gas in my car and I’m gonna go on datpiff or livemixtapes and download that song for free. And just for the gas being high like that, that’s too much. 

Tell us a little about Cheez n Dope 2:

I dropped that Cheez n Dope 2 cuz Cheez n Dope 1 did so good, everybody was on it. I don’t really deal with a lot of artists, I don’t do a lot of features. I will feature with anybody, but I’m the type of person to do it yourself.

That’s interesting, I feel like new hip hop is all about the features and there’s hardly ever solo tracks anymore, which I miss as a hip hop fan.

I’m a man before anything, so I’m gonna do it on my own.

Respect, who’s on the tape?

Juicy J, Wiz, Mac Miller, artist I work with Nashland, & my guy Mills.

Do you have a favorite track?

I like the one I did with Wiz, but I like em all.

Dropping two mixtapes in one year, that’s a quick turnaround, how often are you in the studio?

I think of music all the time. I have songs in my head constantly. I have a song I’m working out in my head and I’m just ready to go.

What inspires you?

A catchy saying someone say, but once I get a vibe I’m gone. You gotta keep up with the times and what’s going on. Right now everybody’s on money, getting high, and turn up.

And do you turn up yourself?

(laughs) you gotta turn up

Keeping up with the times, how are you able to separate yourself from artists?

You gotta have your own swag. Right now it’s about metaphors and bars, but you gotta put a swag on it. (Project Pat then freestyled an example of his swag.)

What was the highlight of your career thus far?

Selling a million records on Mista Don’t Play.

How have you been able to maintain such longevity in the rap game?

Your realness card gonna carry you all through life, that’s what an old pimp dude told me. You gotta keep it real. A lot of people that come off a certain way in the rap game, it don’t last long for them because they get found out that they really not the person they say they are. I know how to finesse around. I been in real prison with real cartels and real murderers. 23 and 1, meaning you locked up for 23 hours and out for 1. I saw so many stabbings on the unit I was in that after forty it wasn’t no sense to count anymore.

What are you working on now and what’s up next for you?

Right now I’m, working on this Mista Don’t Play 2, this album and I just dropped this single called “Be A G” with Juicy J and Dope P produced by Mike Will Made It. It’s hitting the streets real hard, people are really messing with it, a lot of radio stations are adding it to the station. I’m working on this new tape with Nasty Mane, one of the artists I mess with in Memphis. I also gotta a lot of videos to shoot from the tape too.

Who do you wanna work with in the future?

Lady Gaga or Nicki Minaj, somebody different. That’s what I’m on.

Is there any advice you'd like to give young aspiring rappers?

Grind, work hard, stay focused.

Give a shoutout

I wanna give a shoutout to you.

Huge shoutout to Project Pat for sitting down with Come Home With Me; Music First and dropping some real knowledge for our viewers. If you haven’t already, download that Cheez n Dope 2 and be on the lookout for Mista Don’t Play 2.