The last eight years of Project Pat's career have been spent trying to balance the street authenticity of his Ghetty Green debut with the commercial success of Mista Don't Play, resulting in three lackluster major and indie releases, divided by jail sentences. Real Recognize Real, Pat's first album with Asylum Records, somehow gets it all right. With the same uncensored, label-less approach that Pat started with, he's complemented with the best beats from DJ Paul and Juicy J's [click to read] itinerary in quite some time.
From a class of pioneers in his own right, Pat has furthered his message, but adapted to the Young Jeezy [click to read] class that's come after. "Dead In The Streets" carries that same trapper's commandment delivery, but with Pat's own brand of finely aged wisdom, and the speckled past that makes his rhymes all the realer. Conversely, "Talk That Gangsta" takes it back to the No Limit/Bounce era of simple choruses, busier production and the very beginnings of what made the clubs get so torn up a decade ago. Pat brings his celebrated career and rich legacy in the Gucci duffle bag that today's younger audience comes looking for in their rhymes.
DJ Paul and Juicy J went with a more soulful sound than heard on last year's Three 6 Mafia Last 2 Walk [click to read] album. Songs like "Keep It Hood," are sample-driven with the aggressive drum programming that has made hits for over a decade and a half. The same is true of "I Be Fresh," another song that's simpler subject matter is contrasted with glowing sampling, and trigger-happy MPC pads.
In a project without credits, liner notes and much marketing, Project Pat appears liberated in avoiding the same label structure that pulled him up from Hypnotized Minds Records nine years ago. Then again, this album's few flaws lie in songs like "Horny" or "Pogo Stick" that either are pandering to strip-club spins or simply poor A&R-ing, looking for ringtone crossover. While sex and strip club culture has always been a staple of Pat's arsenal, neither record comes off as more than a poor imitation of "Chickenhead 2009."
Minor flaws aside, Project Pat made his best album in close to a decade. The rhymes, themes and production line up in a way that finds that gritty non-fiction of the street, with some veteran rapper bravado, and beats that bang harder in your trunk than anything yet in 2009. Real Recognize Real is one of the few examples of a veteran rapper, applying his artistic lessons learned to the same way he entered the game - with a ski mask on.