Phat Kat aka Ronnie Cash

13 years ago view-show 871,398

By: William E. Ketchum III


                Detroit hip-hop has gotten a lot of love since J Dilla passed in February 2006, but Phat Kat has been through it all. Having worked with Dilla since the mid-90s and constantly showing his face at various events in the city, Kat has cemented a reputation as one of Detroit’s most respected, yet attainable hip-hop figures. With a hip-hop scene that’s open to the mitten and a stellar sophomore album, Carte Blanche, getting rave reviews, the MC known as Ronnie Cash is finally getting some of the recognition he deserves. In an interview with HipHopCrack, Phat Kat talks about his album, the Detroit hip-hop scene, and touring.


HHC: What’s been going on?


Phat Kat: I’m on tour right now, on the Carte Blanche tour, the album came out. Just out here grinding, man. We’ve been to LA, Frisco, Seattle, Portland, Albuquerque, a whole gang of spots on the west coast. The east coast leg started yesterday, and we’re just out here grinding.


HHC: What spot has received you the best besides Detroit?


Phat Kat: It’s a toss-up between San Francisco…I’d have to say San Francisco. Just the whole little vibe that was going on in there, and everybody knew the shit.


HHC: With this album, it seems like you’ve really stepped your game up lyrically. What have you been doing between your first album, The Undeniable, and Carte Blanche?


Phat Kat: With The Undeniable, that album was pushed back three times, the album was like three years old. The album’s supposed to came out in 2001, the album came out in 2004. That’s the difference. It’s not really nothing different in how I was going about things, but the album was dated. It was pushed back. The album was three years old before it even came out. With Carte Blanche, it was fresh. That’s really like my first album to me. The situation I was in, I didn’t feel like the label believed in what I was doing 100 percent, so I wasn’t going to give 100 percent as an artist to a label that wasn’t giving 100 percent as a label. With the situation I’m in now, you can tell it’s 100 percent. I was full throttle on this album.


HHC: Yeah, you document that in the song, “My Old Label.” Do you think that a lot of other artists on Barak Records went through the same thing?


Phat Kat: Every artist over there feels almost, if not the same way that I felt. I’m not there, so I can voice my opinion and say what I feel now. I don’t have a muzzle on me, I can say whatever I want to say. And, if the truth (hurts), so be it. But it’s the truth. It wasn’t a good situation.


HHC: You also have the song, “Survival Kit,” in which you go through some things that every artist should know. Out of that whole kit, which would you say would have helped you the most in your career?


Phat Kat: Really, Rule #2 and Rule #1, it’s a mixture of those two. Rule #1, “You want shit done, you’ve got to do it yourself/it’s the only true way to see your growth and your wealth.” It’s the only true way! You’ve got to do shit yourself. And #2, “Only you are responsible for you.” You’ve got to take responsibility for your own acts, and control your own destiny. That’s what it’s about.


HHC: It seems like ever since J Dilla died, Detroit hasn’t gotten a lot of nationwide shine as far as the music scene. How much of that would you attribute to the music itself, and how much would you attribute to media outlets flocking there in light of Dilla?


Phat Kat: It’s a mixture…it’s really this. It’s a jedi mind trick, everybody knows that. The reason Detroit has a lot of people looking and checking is because of the passing of Dilla. His passing raised awareness of the music that was coming out of this city, so everyone wants to know and hear what’s next since Dilla passed. I already prepared for that, and that’s what Carte Blanche is. That’s what’s next. That’s what we’ve been doing. We knew that with the passing of Dilla, that was going to raise awareness. A lot of people were expecting us not to come with nothing! So we really just stepped up to the plate and accepted the challenge, to show the world that we got some crazy music that’s getting made out of this city, man. So now that y’all are looking, now y’all can finally hear and see.


HHC: So what is it like for you, now that Detroit is getting so much exposure?


Phat Kat: I mean, it’s different, man. I’m not used to it, so I’m really just taking it all in stride. But it’s a beautiful thing. Now that people are looking, they can hear, so it’s a beautiful thing, man.


HHC: Being a personal friend of Dilla, how bittersweet is it for you that all of this is happening after Dilla passed?


Phat Kat: it’s bittersweet, because we used to always used to say that the music we were making was light years ahead of people, so that it was going to take them years to catch on to what we were doing anyway. It’s kind of fucked up that he can’t be here to see people finally catching on, but I know he’s here in spirit with the stuff we created, so it’s all good.


HHC: There are a whole lot of projects coming out of Michigan right now. You’ve got Slum Village, Elzhi’s solo, OneBeLo, and other projects. With all the projects coming out in that area, which ones are you personally looking forward to the most?


Phat Kat: Actually, me and Elzhi are doing an album too. We formed a group called Cold Steel (named after Carte Blanche’s Elzhi-featured single of the same name). Yeah. We just really putting ideas and crafting songs, and we’re just going to see what we come up with. We might put it out on Look. … I’m looking forward to Guilty Simpson’s album, I’m looking forward to the new Slum Village album, and I’m looking forward to this Cold Steel album.


HHC: You’re from the D, so you’ve basically worked with everyone out there. But if you could have a fantasy track with any three MCs from the area and any producer, who would it be?


Phat Kat: Well, of course it would be a Dilla joint. It would be myself, Royce Da 5’9”, Elzhi, and Eminem. I think we would all bring something different out of each other on that track, and it would be one of the craziest songs ever made.


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