Artist: Phat Kat
- Unrestricted power to act at one’s own discretion; unconditional authority:
Thusly titled is the latest effort from Detroit-bred rapper Phat Kat a.k.a Ronnie Cash. Released on Look Records, Kat/Cash has been on his grind working the underground scene, claiming his knocks and triumphs along the way. He counts himself among the integral innovators of Detroit’s hip-hop scene and rightly so as a member of First Down, along side the presently (and posthumously) infamous producer J Dilla.
On his first full-length album, Phat Kat worked alongside previously established artists such as Dwele, Obie Trice, and Slum Village. But on Carte Blanche, he is taking a slightly different approach with assistance of up-and-coming producers Nick Speed, Young RJ, and Black Milk, and contributing artists such as Truth Hurts, Melanie Rutherford, and Guilty Simpson. This is commendable for an artist such as Phat Kat when the trend leans more towards jumping on the Timbo/Star Trak/etc./etc. bandwagon.
Now that you got his background, its time to jump into it. . ..
Lyrically, nothing about this album stuck out to me. There’s nothing I haven’t already heard; and no innovation in the way that it’s being said. On Get Started, Phat Kat argues that “a lot of suckas want it bad, but I want it the worst,” and while that might be true, at least they said it better. Danger is slightly redeeming on a lyrical tip: “the phony niggas need to stop rapping and drive a cab and be a garbage man, we need someone to take out the trash.” Truer words could not be spoken about the hip-hop music industry, indeed.
Not for nothing, I can appreciate the level of comfort Phat Kat exhibits in his Detroit niche and the fact that he doesn’t seem too concerned with trying to be commercial. However, I think that the self-centeredness on the Detroit scene leaves little to be appreciated beyond that eight mile border.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think this was a wasted effort. Vessels featuring Truth Hurts (wow, where has she been?) is a decent track, outlining the struggle from the bottom up and the pressure of being a performer. Following along those lines is True Story Part II, an eye-opening tale of the struggle of Detroit rap; which is honestly the story of all good underground rap. And I loved Lovely, Rutherford’s vocals are perfect on this track. Nightmare was also engaging track; Phat Kat keeps it real with the industry declaring, “we some major label nightmares/bootleg our own shyt mah-f*&%#$ we don’t fight fair. Nick Speed’s production is both hard rock and hip-hop bass heavy. I love it.
Through and through, this album simply failed to make a strong impression on me; not even Dilla’s signature production could keep me interested because the total package just didn’t work for me. Maybe if I saw this live, I’d be more impressed. Carte Blanche proves to be an appropriate title, but is Phat Kat waving a white flag? Or is he wielding his lyrical confidence for the world to see? You be the judge.
And let the hate mail start pouring in. Last time I spoke my mind on an album review, I got put on blast on MySpace. But when has a little hating ever stopped me before?