How are you enjoying ..Europe right now?
PHAT KAT: I’m loving it. Every time I come to Europe it’s always love, it’s crazy. Since the new album came out it’s even hotter.
Your new album “Carte Blanche” has been creating a pretty big buzz in the underground scene. You’ve been around for a while. Why do you think people are just now recognizing your talent?
PHAT KAT: I guess it’s like, since the new situation I’m in, the new label I’m with.. And then again, with the passing of Dilla, everybody’s been jumping on the whole Detroit wagon. And I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
There are magnificent differences between “Undeniable” and “Carte Blanche”. Did those come from you, or the production?
PHAT KAT: It was really all on me because with the “Undeniable” I didn’t have the creative control that I had with “Carte Blanche”. With “Carte Blanche” I had full reign over creating the whole album.
So you’re saying it was basically because of the label situation?
PHAT KAT: Basically, yeah. With the last label I was with I couldn’t pick the beats that I had on this album. They wouldn’t have been on that label. They wouldn’t have been on the “Undeniable”.
Do you think it was also personal changes that made the album so different?
PHAT KAT: Yeah. I mean, when I was recording the album I just had like alot of fire built up in me. Because when I left the previous label, they were thinking that I wasn’t gonna do anything. They were thinking I just was gonna get a job or something. So I just really had something to prove on this album. That’s what we got out of it.
How did you get the five unreleased Dilla beats? Did he give them to you before his death?
PHAT KAT: Yeah actually he did. We were in Europe right before he passed, we did the European tour before he passed away. And that was some of the beats he gave me when we were on that tour. It was a CD, it was like beats that people didn’t use and I always liked. And he was like “whatever on there, just use it. Whatever you want to do, just do it.”.
Do you still have some of those beats left that you would like to use in the future?
PHAT KAT: I got mad Dilla stuff that I could still use, but I don’t think I will use any Dilla beats on the next album because it’s like a hype right now. And I aint really trying to be a part of that. I want to show the world what I do.
Do you know at what time those beats were made? Because it’s funny to me that you listen to his beats nowadays and they got to be at least two years old but they still sound like they were made yesterday. Do you know when they were made?
PHAT KAT: Alot of that stuff was made like early 2000.
The song “My old label” expresses alot of the feelings you have towards Barak Records. Is there anything left to say about that?
PHAT KAT: I said what I said on that song and I just left it there. I’m moving on now. I wish them the best. Let them do what they do and I’m gonna do what I do and at the end of the day we’ll see where we at.
You still work with Young R.J. who is the son of the owner of Barak Records, right?
PHAT KAT: Not anymore. I haven’t spoke to him in like, going on two years.
But on your album you had production from Young RJ?
PHAT KAT: Yeah, he did like two and a half joints on there. But that was like really the only contact we had. And after the album came out I haven’t even heard from him.
Oh, ok. Because I was about to say, isn’t it a conflicting situation, with you leaving Barak Records and still working with the owners son.
PHAT KAT: Yeah. I mean, I haven’t heard from either one of them in years. So I guess it is what it is. I’m gonna do what I do..I’m not loosing no sleep over it.
I recently talked to Black Milk and he told me he left Barak because they kept pushing his release back. Was it the same thing with you?
PHAT KAT: Yeah. I mean, the “Undeniable”, when that album came out it was three years old. That album was supposed to be released on Virgin UK. But it didn’t happen. So Barak picked it up and it took three years for it to come out.
How did your relationship with Look Records start? The label that you’re on right now.
PHAT KAT: It started through Percee P. Him and DJ Design were sitting around, kicking it and just shooting names around and asked like “man, what’s up with Phat Kat? What is he doing?” And you know, Percee P called me and said Look was interested in putting my next record out. And I was like “Yeah, give them the number.” They called, we talked for like three hours over the phone and we just had the same kinda ideals and views on the music. And we made it happen.
Let’s talk a little bit about the past. How did 1st Down start?
PHAT KAT: Well, 1st down, it was me and this other guy. And we had a group, it was called 1st down. Dilla did some beats. We sent a demo to Gangstarr. To make a long story short, they wanted to sign us. The other guy just out of the blue was like “I don’t want to rap no more. I’m done, I don’t want to do it.”
After Gangstarr got at you?
PHAT KAT: Right after that. He was like “I don’t want to do it. I’m straight, I don’t want to rap.” So I was like, What?? Like, dog, this is a record deal right here. But he was like “I don’t want to do it. You can do it.” So I’m like, you know what? I’m gonna do it. And yeah, we just did it like the Gangstarr thing. Dilla was doing the beats and I was the MC and that’s how it came about. But originally it was me and another guy. But Dilla stepped in and we did it for the sake of getting the label thing poppin.
I was gonna ask you about the whole demo story with Gangstarr. It was actually the first demo you ever passed out, right?
PHAT KAT: Yeah, exactly.
And what made you give it to Guru?
PHAT KAT: I was really put on the spot at the record store that I was in. And I mean, I always liked Gangstarr and I just gave it to him. Just to see what would happen. And they called back like a week later.
Were you in touch with Guru after that? Were you ever talking about collaboration?
PHAT KAT: Yeah. We’re still in touch to this day. I mean, it’s all love.
Do you think there will ever be a Guru/Phat Kat collabo?
PHAT KAT: You never know, never know… But yeah, more than likely.
Right now a lot of rappers record whole albums together. Do you have anything like that planned?
PHAT KAT: Actually, me and Elzih are working on a “Cold Steel” project. Me and Illa J are working on a 2nd Down project. We got a lot of stuff going on.
Just out of my own interest, is Illa J working on a solo album?
PHAT KAT: Yeah he’s working on an album.
Let’s talk about your hometown, Detroit. To me it always seems like Detroit has two separated camps. You have the mainstream camp with Eminem and everybody who came out of that. And then you got the underground cats, like you, Slum Village, Dilla, Black Milk. Is the scene really that separated or is that just what the audience is made to believe?
PHAT KAT: I mean it used to be. But since the passing of Dilla and Proof everybody kinda..
PHAT KAT: Yeah, but we always knew each other, from day one. But when the whole Shady thing blew up it was like you said, either commercial or it was underground. But nobody was beefin or anything.
Yeah, but I think to the mainstream crowd, the people who watch MTV and whatever, when they hear Detroit they just think about Eminem and the likes. They don’t think about the underground scene. What do you think represents the Detroit sound more, the commercial or the underground sound?
PHAT KAT: What we do. I mean, we’re like the essence of Detroit Hip Hop. You’re looking at it. From the history to the consistency, just all around.
And why do you think the other camp doesn’t represent it like that?
PHAT KAT: I can’t really speak for anybody else. All I can do is talk about what we do and that’s what I focus on.
What do you have going on right now, after your success with “Carte Blanche? Are you working on a new album, or just the project with Elzih?
PHAT KAT: No, I mean all this stuff is going on right now. And the new album is called “The Catacombs”. That’s what’s next.
What is it gonna sound like?
PHAT KAT: It’s gonna be kinda dark and grimy. You know the catacombs is underground, so…
You think the ladies will enjoy it too?
PHAT KAT: We might have to make something happen..
Thanks alot for the interview!