In 1998, Fat Pat released his posthumous debut album, Ghetto Dreams. It was a massive signifier that someone outside of E.S.G. or Scarface could make a solo Houston rap album that was essential to its era and vastly superior to nearly everything else in its orbit. It is the third greatest Houston rap album ever, behind UGK’s Ridin’ Dirty and Scarface’s The Diary(The Fix is the fourth). I say it is his posthumous debut album because Pat was killed outside of an apartment complex in February 1998 and I remember the news report vividly.
I walked into my mom’s room, getting ready for fourth grade, holding the white and red Air Jordan 13s in my hand. The channel was flicked on to NBC because my mother loved NBC’s morning news more than anybody else at the time. I went to her room to talk about cleaning my shoes when I turned my neck, which probably did the work of four combined necks by carrying my big ass fourth-grade head. I heard the announcer say: “HOUSTON RAPPER PATRICK HAWKINS, BETTER KNOWN AS FAT PAT, WAS SHOT AND KILLED AT AN APARTMENT COMPLEX —” The rest of the details faded out, and I remember saying, “Whoa.” My mom asked if I knew the guy, a statement that would become her lead sentence any time a rapper’s death was announced on the news. I nodded and said yes.
Fat Pat was everywhere in 1998, both in life and death. The year before, he had released this slow rumble of perfection called “Tops Drop.” It had the same Yarborough & Peoples sample that Puff Daddy and Lil Kim had used for No Way Out, but this felt and sounded better. Pat had this baritone that seemed like stacking a megaphone in front of Barry White; that sound came from a giant subwoofer the size of Yao Ming. You couldn’t mistake a Fat Pat verse or his lingo, that twisted-up Houston phrasing that sounded like a brand-new language. Fat Pat was the shit and one of the greatest Houston what-ifs in a city halfway built on what-ifs.
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