The H-Town Countdown, No. 7: Fat Pat's Ghetto Dreams
Roughly 84,000 rap albums have been released in Houston since 1989. We're counting down the 25 best of all time every Thursday. Got a problem with the list? Shove it. Just kidding. Friendship. Email email@example.com. Fat Pat Ghetto Dreams (Wreckshop Records, 1998)
During the course of researching The Countdown, Fat Pat was described to us as being "Houston's Tupac" by no less than three separate people (two of which we respect very much; the third, we suspect, hates us deeply). And initially, that seemed like the kind of empty comparison someone makes when they have nothing substantial to offer to a conversation, and very well may have been just that. But there is a surprising amount of uprightness behind it, even though there almost isn't any. Saying that Fat Pat is Houston's Tupac is an acceptable observation for any number of reasons. There are ideological instances, (both discussed the sociopolitical issues enveloping them in a culturally relevant manner), unfortunately obvious instances (both were murdered by gunfire in cases that have yet to be resolved), argumentative instances (it is wholly possible to both overstate and understate their significance at the same time) and even aesthetic instances whose fundamental similarities might be a little ironic (Tupac's "Thug Life" tattoo has become an iconic image; there's a tattoo parlor in Houston called Ghetto Dreams that's likely Thug Life-d several people). But those all squish semi-neatly together into one grander reason: The level of their importance and influence parallel one another, Tupac's within the national conscience and Fat Pat's within Houston's complex rap construct.
It's essential to note here that saying Fat Pat was Houston's version of Tupac is completely wrong. He wasn't impersonating Tupac, although there are some distinct similarities, and he did sample Tupac's lines a few times, like the "I got my hand on my gun" line from "Friends We Know" - which may be a bit confusing, we admit. But if Pat were doing that though, localizing those Tupacisms, that would've made him Houston's version of Tupac and thus far less substantial in the development of our specific subgenre of rap. But back to the point.
Mr. P-A-T is mounds of substantial and Ghetto Dreams, the second-best solo album to ever be released by the Screwed Up Click, is his magnum opus.
Of course, there's the back story behind it. How him and his swollen-mouthed flow were poised to take the reins as Houston's next breakout artist, bump drafting behind Keke's Don't Mess Wit Texas, solidifying the S.U.C. as a stable of certifiable stars, only to see him murdered a breath away from the album's release.
And there's the clear ripple that it's had aurally. Pat's naturally stereophonic sound made it seem like there were two or three Fat Pats rapping at the same, not to mention how he perfected that purposely lazy trail-off flow (like, rather than enunciating "back," he'd say it so it ended up sounding like a grumbly "baaahhhhh"), two sounds many artists still try to imitate today.
But Ghetto Dreams doesn't get near enough credit for being put together as fluidly as it was. The album tangentially discusses a few separate (but identifiable) memes, utilizing three or four song sets to crystallize various points. The front fourth of the album is mostly personal and regional braggadocio, with Pat leaning more on lyricism than personality to give the tracks their girth.
Following that, beginning with "Reality," the LP becomes a bit more personal and introspective. Pat begins to flex his melodic muscle a bit, and we get a solid amount of that provocative heavy drag of his. The next subsection bounces around standard Houston thesis topics (haters, boppers, swangers). And the last bit, the hardest section to listen to now, is rife with foreshadowing of his death, including closer "Missing Our G's," where he's actually eulogized (and was likely added after he was eulogized in real life).
You're free to take potshots at Tupac's (possibly) distended status as a musical genius, because that's still up for debate, but that doesn't make him any less substantial to the development of the gangster rap genre. Without him, that sound would've evolved in a completely different manner.
It's the same with Fat Pat. Had he never touched a microphone, Houston's sound might've gone down a whole separate path. Thank goodness he did. Because if Houston had spawned the Hyphy movement, we would've ghostrode the whip right into oncoming traffic.
References 8. Devin the Dude, Just Tryin' Ta Live
9. E.S.G., Ocean of Funk 10: OG Style, We Know How To Play 'Em 11. Z-Ro, Let The Truth Be Told 12. Street Military, Don't Give a Damn 13. DJ Screw, 3 N' Tha Mornin' Pt. 2 (Blue) 14. Trae, Restless 15: Chamillionaire, Mixtape Messiah 16: Bushwick Bill, Little Big Man 17: SPM, Never Change 18: Swishahouse, The Day Hell Broke Loose 19: Chamillionaire and Paul Wall, Get Ya Mind Correct 20: Z-Ro, The Life of Joseph W. McVey 21: Ganksta NIP, South Park Psycho 22: Big Hawk, H.A.W.K. 23: K-Rino, Time Traveler 24: Pimp C, Pimpalation 25: Big Moe, City of Syrup Read the rules of The Countdown here.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.