Words Julia Beverly
Greatest Southern Artists of all Time
PETEY PABLO 5 ESSENTIAL PETEY PABLO TRACKS
Petey Pablo “Raise Up” Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry 2001 This North Carolina anthem introduced Petey to the world and later prompted an “all-cities” remix. Petey Pablo “Fool For Love” Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry 2001 Thugs get lonely too. Petey Pablo “My Testimony” Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry 2001 A rare glimpse inside the mind of Mr. Freek-A-Leek: “Kidnapped and confined / Within a system designed / To destroy the innocent child that I used to be.” Petey Pablo “Freek-A-Leek” Still Writing in My Diary: 2nd Entry 2004 Armed with a killer beat from Lil Jon similar to Usher’s “Yeah!”, “Freek-A-Leek” ranked #3 on the list of 2004’s biggest hip-hop radio singles. Petey extends an open invitation to the ladies who like to fuck, provided they “ain’t scared of a big dick.” Ciara f/ Petey Pablo “Goodies” Goodies 2004 Petey explains how he gets the goodies over another crunk Lil Jon beat.
etey Pablo is crazy. Anyone who’s met him, friend or foe, can vouch for this statement. But, then again, name a talented artist who isn’t? If you’ve been reading OZONE for any length of time (or any other hip-hop magazine, for that matter) you’ve heard the story many, many times: Talented teenager gets caught up in the street life and goes to prison. After serving his time, he decides to use his real-life experiences as the basis for a rap album, hoping to be “discovered” and get a record deal. Rarely do those stories end on a positive note. Petey Pablo is one of the few that has successfully turned his life around. Born Moses Barrett in Greensville, North Carolina, his early musical exploits included singing in the church choir and school chorus. “My mama always called me Petey,” he says, adding the surname Pablo in memory of a fallen soldier. In high school, he became enamored with hip-hop, but the streets were still calling. He was arrested as a teenager and spent over five years behind bars (he declines to discuss the details when asked why he was incarcerated, answering succinctly, “For breaking the law.”) Still, he admits, “The experience made me who I am today.” Today, he’s a rap star. Not only is he a star, but he’s somehow bypassed many of the obstacles that stood in the way of other Southern artists. He didn’t struggle independently for years, selling CDs out of the trunk of his car. He got signed to a major label without ever dropping a single. He hates doing interviews, avoids cameras, and doesn’t show up for radio promos. He accepts money from major corporations trying to market to the hip-hop audience, but not without attitude (“I gotta give a shoutout to Seagram’s Gin, cause I drink it, and they’re payin’ me for it”). While other rappers strive for the spotlight and spend time developing relationships with DJs, producers, and other artists, Petey simply doesn’t give a fuck. 10
OZONE APR 2005
So how does he do it? Why is Petey Pablo a star? Perhaps it’s because he consistently drops hits. He uses his God-given talent to create songs. We’ll forgive him for the pathetic “Blow Your Whistle” and instead focus on bangers like “Raise Up,” “Freek-A-Leek,” and “Goodies.” Aside from the commercial hits, he’s also got spiritual songs. Petey Pablo is one of the few artists who can discuss God and fucking in the same sentence without it coming across as a contradiction, probably because he sincerely believes in both: “Freek-A-Leek:” Do you want it in ya pussy? Do you want it in ya ass? I’ll give you anything you can handle! “My Testimony”: My tears would soak the pages I write upon If I couldn’t close the windows to my soul and stand strong in the midst of these storms “Fool For Love”: I got caught up in something worse than drugs I’m a motherfuckin’ fool for love While incarcerated, Petey practiced freestyling. He went to New York as soon as he got released, virtually penniless and homeless. He befriended Black Rob at a New York city nightclub, who gave him a place to crash. Rob featured Petey on the remix to his single “Whoa,” one of the hottest tracks out at the time. Along with Black Rob, Petey met other rappers who vouched for his skills, such as Missy Elliott and Busta Rhymes. Soon enough, Petey did get “discovered.” “We were in the [club] bathroom rhymin’ and freestylin’ and Jive’s head A&R [David Lighty] walked in the bathroom,” he remembers. “It was me, [Black] Rob, and Doug E. Fresh. [Lighty] asked me if I was signed, and I was like, ‘Nah.’ He told me, ‘Come over to Jive and we’ll give you everything you want.’” Jive arranged for Petey to be featured on labelmate Mystikal’s album, and hooked him up with
Timbaland to record for his debut. The Timboproduced “Raise Up” was an instant success. Petey’s grimy hook single-handedly put the Carolinas on the hip-hop map, and before his album even dropped, Petey Pablo was a household name. Jive released his debut album, Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry, in 2001, which nearly reached platinum status. After the hype surrounding “Raise Up” died down, Petey appeared on a few regional hits like Lil Jon’s “Rep Yo City,” but appeared destined for one-hit-wonderland. As Jive prepared to release his follow-up album, Still Writing in My Diary: 2nd Entry, the lukewarm response to his lead single “Blow Your Whistle” put the album on hold. Petey stumbled onto a hit in 2004 while skimming through Lil Jon tracks that had previously been given to Jive for Mystikal’s album. He recorded “Freek-A-Leek,” which was leaked to radio almost instantly and became nearly an overnight sensation. The success of Usher’s “Yeah!”, which was derived from the same Lil Jon beat, only helped resurrect Petey’s career. “Freek-A-Leek” was eventually remixed with guest appearances from Twista and Jermaine Dupri, and the enormous success of the song at radio prompted Jive to release his sophomore album. Alongside “Freek-A-Leek,” Still Writing In my Diary: 2nd Entry also contained thoughtful tracks like “He Spoke to Me.” The label recruited Petey to drop 16 bars for female Jive artists Ciara and Rasheeda, which helped keep him in the spotlight for the rest of 2004. Although “Freek-A-Leek”’s subject matter wasn’t typical of Petey’s music, Uncle Luke christened him as the official torchbearer for fuck songs. Disgruntled with Jive’s treatment of his career, Petey found a kindred spirit in an unlikely place: Suge Knight. Proclaiming himself the newest member of Death Row, Petey’s next career move is one big question mark. If all else fails, he can always record another hit.
Ozone Mag #33 - Apr 2005