By: Sylis P. Barnaby
The Detroit hip-hop scene has been on roller coaster of momentum lately. And one of the chief
engineers of that coaster has been Phat Kat aka Ronnie Cash. With the new album Carte Blanche
featuring production from Black Milk, Young RJ and of course the late, great J. Dilla, Phat
Kat is letting people know that Detroit hip-hop (and the Tigers) is still going strong.
PhilaFlava: Howís it going?
Phat Kat: Good, good. Iím doing good, bro.
PF: Aight. Howís the new album, Carte Blanche, doing for you?
PK: Good, man.
PF: You got the video out for Cold Steel, is that still the single?
PK: Nah, that was the first single. The new single now is Lovely.
PF: Aight. I wanted to ask you about using youtube and myspace to promote the Cold Steel
video. The net can be a double edged sword as far as artists that arenít as known as the
PK: I mean, itís all promotion, man. Itís been a benefit. Itís helping my music and my
notoriety to reach people all over the world.
PF: Youíre touring and working with Dillaís little brother, Illa J. Howís that been
since Dillaís passing?
PK: Iíve been knowing him since day one. So I donít look at it like ďitís Dillaís little
brother.Ē I mean, itís just so funny, man. How everybody is just...every interview I do
is, everyone wants to ask me about Dilla, ya know. Dilla this, Dilla that. That was my
friend, man. It was what it was. You know what Iím sayin? Itís like working with family...
PF:...Itís like a continuation.
PK: Yeah, exactly.
PF: Alright. I wonít harp on Dilla too much since you do always get asked about it. But
a lot of people might not know, you were, more or less, one of the first to steady
record and perform with Dilla back with First Down. So to clarify, how far back did
you and Dilla go?
PK: Man, Iíve been knowing Dilla since like 93. And weíve been working together since
like 93, 94. So, I donít really care what nobody thinks, man. Just check my discography. I
really donít get into caring what nobody thinks about nothing. Cause evidently, theyíre
the ones who didnít know him. Theyíre on the outside looking in.
PF: Speaking of yourself, Dilla and Detroit hip-hop as a whole, in the last year itís
been pretty crazy with the passing of Dilla and Proof, and Obie getting shot. Whatís
Detroit hip-hop like right now for those of us that donít know?
PK: I mean, ya know, as far as...itís doing what itís doing, man. Everybodyís just staying
busy and working. Itís just sad that it took for Dilla and Proof to pass away for people
to look at us and see what weíre doing. But we workin, man. Everybodyís workin. Guilty
(Simpson)í s new album is coming out. Black Milkís album is out. New Slum album, new
solo Elzhi album. We all just working, man.
PF: You all seem to have such a tight-knit circle amongst yourselves: yourself, Black
Milk, Guilty Simpson, Slum Village, etc.. Is it coincidental that all your albums are
coming out around the same time? Or is it something where yall decided to hit everyone
at once to show us what Detroitís about?
PK: It just really is coincidental man, that everybodyís album is coming out back to
back right now. Itís a good thing, but it isnít like it was planned like that.
PF: Any plans to work on a whole album with someone like Black Milk?
PK: Actually, me and Elzhi are working on a project. We formed a group called Cold
Steel, after that (the song on the Carte Blanche album). We working on that. Black
is doing the majority of the next album. A lot of people are leaning towards the
whole, ya know...people in the industry, are trying to scrape around to get on a
Dilla beat, and theyíre using it as a crutch. On my next album, I might not even
have a Dilla beat on the next album. Maybe just as an interlude or something. Take
it to a whole nother plateau.
PF: As if to say you got it, but you donít need it.
PK: Exactly. Itís not a crutch for me.
PF: Where do you see Detroit, as far as, you have New York and L.A., and yall
are in the middle with a very distinct sound. Where do the influences come from?
PK: Me personally, I get my influences from being blessed to travel the world and
come back here and incorporate everything Iíve seen over the world. I come home
and incorporate it into my everyday life, man. I just see things differently.
Thatís what youíre getting out of my music.
PF: I know you said you got Milk doing the majority of the next album, but suppose
you had an unlimited budget and you could have any producers on your album on any
major label. Who would your dream lineup be for an album?
PK: I really couldnít say because...I dunno, thatís a good question, man. Cause
thereís so many dope producers that Iíve heard all over the world. I mean, Iím
working with the best with the best as it is right now.
PF: So youíre saying you basically got it sewn up now?
PK: (laughs) Basically. But you know I would definitely include Pete Rock and Primo.
PF: And as far as that goes, if you could collaborate with any rapper, who would it be?
PK: I deal with a lot of the elite emcees in the industry. Theyíre like friends. Itís
gonna happen. Iím gonna be doing joints with Black Thought and Talib, cats like that.
Theyíre my people. It is what it is.
PF: You said youíve been blessed to travel all over the world, are you touring now?
PK: I just got off my U.S. tour like two weeks ago. We did the Carte Blanche
tour, me, Slum Village and Illa J.
PF: Howíd that go?
PK: It was crazy, man. We did 16 cities in the US. Weíre back home and headed out to Europe
for 18 dates in September. Weíre just trying to stay busy, man.
PF: The album with Elzhi, whatís that looking like?
PK: Basically, weíre just recording. When weíre finished with it, weíre gonna see whoís
talking the best as far as how we wanna unleash it to the world. Itís gonna be something
that people arenít expecting from Elzhi or myself.
PF: To get off topic real quick, what do you think the Tigers are looking like as
far as making the World Series again?
PK: Aw, man. They definitely are gonna go again. But this time theyíre gonna win (laughs).
PF: Yeah, Iím in Philly and the Tigers just gave us a beating. I didnít realized i
t was that serious all of a sudden.
PK: Yeah, man, we gotta support our Tigers. I actually live right down the street from
Comerica Park. I can see it out my window. Itís on an poppin down there.
PF: So whoís albums are you gonna be poppin up on soon?
PK: Yeah, actually, we just recorded a song for Black Milkís Caltroit project with Bishop
Lamont. Me and Elzhi just recorded a joint for that the day before yesterday. I just got a
lot of stuff poppin, man. Iím concocting this album thatís gonna be released around the same
time next year. Just keeping it moving and touring.
PF: So when the reviews come out, do you read them or just block it out and do what you gotta do?
PK: Like I said, man, itís cool. I read everything. 90% of the reviews have been good, about
10% have been bad. Itís funny to me, I donít get mad or anything. Everybody got something
to say about everything. I like reading the reviews, itís entertaining.
PF: Not to just throw this out there cause youíre a Detroit emcee, but suppose someone like Eminem
were to come to you and say ďLook, we want you on Shady right now.Ē Would you be willing to drop
what youíre doing to follow what the major label wants you to do?
PK: If that was the case, I coulda been done something like that. But I still gotta have carte
blanche on whatever Iím doing. I donít think I could ever fit into a major label. The way the
industryís shaped right now, Iíll never fit into that mold. Iíll never bend over like that.
PF: If you could expound briefly as far as how you got started, cause youíve been around for a
while. Thereís some reviews where people are calling you a new artist.
PK: It goes back to 1st Down in 93, 95. Dedication To The Suckers in 2000. Iíve been on every
Slum Village album from Fantastic Vol. 1 to whatever. Been touring extensively since 98. Itís
all good though. Everyone in Detroitís just been steady chipping away at the game. With the
passing of Dilla and Proof, people started looking and we just happened to be the guys whoíve
been grinding. Itís a good thing. We just try to stay being individuals, not falling into the
mold of the cookie cutter and appeasing whatever the radioís playing. Thatís not real music.
We just wanna stay being individuals cause itís what weíve always thrived on.
PF: On that note, if you could pick out one trend in hip-hop thatís the wackest shit out
right now that you could get rid of, what would it be?
PK: Just, the whole fuckin...bragging about how much money you got and all that shit. Not
even that, man. My whole thing with that is that people need to focus on being themselves.
Itíd be a better place if everyone would just be individuals. Quit being scared to be yourself.
PF: And the labels are throwing too much money for people to be themselves.
PK: Yeah, cats need to focus on the music. Quit focusing on the cars, the jewels and the
jewelry. Itís just camoflauge for a lack of skill. They think they can blind you with
the bling and all that stuff and you wonít really see past the wackness. Itís all hype.
A lot of moneyís being spent on the hype.
PF: So whoís your top three emcees right now, outside of yourself. Three or four.
PK: Top three or four? Iíd have to say Guilty, Pharoahe and Elzhi.
PF: You hear the new Pharoahe jawn?
PK: Oh yeah.
PF: What you think of it?
PK: I always liked his lyrics. Heís always been an ill emcee since Organized Konfusion.
PF: I though it was actually a lot better than what people were saying ahead of time.
Speaking of lyrics, when you sit down to a song, whatís your process like?
PK: Iím always writing. It really depends. If I hear a beat and the beat makes me wanna
rhyme instantly, then I know itís that hotness. Iím always writing so itís like fitting
pieces to the puzzle.
PF: On Carte Blanche youíre only working with a few select producers. Is that to give the
album a cohesive feel?
PK: Thatís how I always start off cause I donít like using a lot of producers for a
project. Sometimes the album will be all scattered out. I like to really know the
producers, instead of just them sending a beat and rapping over it.
PF: So youíd rather work with someone cause youíre down with them and know what
theyíre about, instead of them just having the hot sound at the moment?
PF: Any chance of us hearing a Phat Kat, Black Milk, Guilty Simpson supergroup album?
PK: Yeah, man. Itís actually always popping up amongst us. Anythingís possible
with us. Iím just glad yall are peeping what weíre doing.
PF: No doubt. I wanna thank you for your time. Any websites you wanna shout out?
PK: Yeah, yall can check out my myspace page at
go to http://www.lookrecords.com and find out whatís good with the tour info, contests and all that.