I will never forget February 3, 1998. I was hanging out on the infamous corners of Braeswood Avenue in Southwest Houston, when a friend ran up to me sobbing, “They killed Pat! They killed P.A.T.!” Almost instantaneously, my cheap Primeco cellular phone began ringing like a million bells being chimed. My girlfriend, and later mother of my son, called crying and asking had I heard about Pat. That’s how large Patrick Lamark Hawkins was in Houston. He had long ago reached that one name stardom in our region. Fat Pat was that dude! No one wanted to accept his death. My two friends and I immediately hopped in my hooptie, speeding down Bissonnet Street to South Drive, the apartment laced block in Southwest Houston where Pat was shot. When we arrived, the scene looked like a block party. People were everywhere. Grown men were walking around in tears. Females bawled and attempted to comfort each other in small groups. I remember feeling surreal as some of Houston’s finest slabs, our slang for custom designed classic cars, pulled up “swangin’ and bangin'”, playing some of Pat’s most memorable Screw mixtape freestyles. “The Haters”, our chosen moniker for the Houston Police Department, usually quick to break up group gatherings of minorities, did not intervene. Even the police knew that a special man had been murdered. Too bad the force did not show the same concern during the investigation. Thirteen years later, Fat Pat’s murderer, Kenneth “Weasel” Watson has never been brought to justice although he’s being held in federal prison on drug charges.
At the time of Pat’s death, I was a young man entrapped in Houston’s fast life of sex, drugs, and Screw music. Hip hop was our life. At least our form of hip hop. DJ Screw’s mixtapes were the soundtrack of every music fan’s life in Houston. These gray Maxell tapes with the simple saying “DJ Screw Fool”, featured unduplicable slowed down and chopped mixes, sprinkling in raw freestyles by local street hustlers with ambitions of rocking the mic. The most outstanding of all these “freestyle pros” was Fat Pat. His baritone voice, descriptive lyrics, and heavyweight playboy swagger were undeniable.
After the release of DJ Screw’s 1995 classic, “No Drank”, an ode to the unavailability of codeine syrup in the the city at the time, Fat Pat became a star. His unforgettable verses are ingrained on any Screw fan from that wonderful era of raw brilliance. On this mixtape, Pat introduced the world to “riding foreigns”, “choppin’ blades”, and “TV’s in the headrest”. It is an accepted theory that the widely used term “raising the roof” and the corresponding popular hand gesture were created by Fat Pat.
A member of supergroup, the Dead End Alliance (D.E.A.), named after his crime ridden neighborhood in Houston’s Southside and featuring DJ Screw himself, as well as mixtapes all-stars Lil’ Keke and brother, Hawk; Fat Pat committed to his music career and abandoned his former life as a hustler. In late 1997, he signed with Wreck Shop Records and began working on his debut album, appropriately called “Ghetto Dreams”. Pat starred on a back and forth classic freestyle with Lil Keke over a Puffy and Mase track days before the projected release of his album. This mixtape introduction to new albums was fresh in 1998 and became the trademark route for new artists still today. His unmistakeable hook, “Swang Down Sweet Chariots Let Us Ride/ We Do The Bodyrock and We Do The Southside”, setup the coming party anthems “Body Rock” and “Southside” for both local stars. On this freestyle, Pat boast of his coming fame and fortune. Less than a month later, and a day before his planned February 4 release, Pat was shot once in the head by his former friend and promoter. Wreck Shop released “Ghetto Dreams” on March 17, 1998. Driven by the Billboard Rap Chart Top 5 single and still Houston anthem, “Tops Drop”, the album went on to worlwide success. His funeral was one of legendary status with Houston’s top musicians and wealthiest hustlers paying their respects.
Posthumously, five Fat Pat albums have been released including the comercially successful, “Throwed In The Game”, which featured the smash, “My Braud and My Wife.” He has been featured on countless records including the gold selling, “25 Lighters” by DJ DMD, and the platinum selling, “Wanna Be A Baller” by Lil Troy. Pat’s melodic, deep voice is often sampled and used by new artists as hooks for songs. His effect on Houston music and hip hop as a whole, even 13 years later is unmistakeable with artists like Rick Ross patterning their styles after him, and giants like Lil Wayne and Drake mentioning him in their hits.
Fat Pat was a trendsetter and local hero. He set the style, music, and defined cool for young people like myself in Houston. His slang can be heard today throughout urban soceity with terms like “blades”, “choppers”, and “throwed”, being worldwide accepted lingo. His music was just like him : bigger than life. Pat was more than a man or even martyr. He was a movement. His tragic death, eerily at 27 made him a member of entertainment’s “27 Club”, which includes Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison of The Doors, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, and most recently, Amy Winehouse; and further added lore to his already legendary status. It’s about time hip hop recognizes that Houston has it’s own slain, incomparable, and unmatched XXXL-sized lyrical genius just as New York does. Fat Pat is our Notorious B.I.G.
Check out : www.billboard.com/artist/fat–pat/319055, www.youtube.com/StreetDreaminMusic/FATPATGreatestHits:MUSICVIDEO , and www.whosampled.com/sampled/Fat%20Pat/