The first song on Petey Pablo’s first album is called “Petey Pablo.” He joins such illustrious acts as Motörhead (“Motörhead”), Black Sabbath (“Black Sabbath”), Voivod (“Voivod”), Saint Vitus (“Saint Vitus”) as artists who dared to begin their careers by hammering their names into your head with blunt-force repetition. Manowar, Overkill, Deicide, Metal Church, too, have all snuck songs named after themselves onto their debut records, and if I had to guess when Satan has you sign on the dotted line there’s probably a clause about achieving maximum shreddage through savvy branding.
But Petey Pablo is a rapper, and though he might be able to spit with the same thunderous fury as a bassline shot straight out of Lemmy Kilmister’s fingers he’s a man of God and country, not country like the United States, whose prison system has held him at least twice, but country country, like fields and trees and trucks and shit.
J. Cole, one of the most famous rappers in the country, is from North Carolina. So is Phonte, who along with Rapper Big Pooh and 9th Wonder made up Little Brother, who brought national attention to our state’s vibrant hip-hop scene. Before them, there was Petey Pablo, and before him, there was nothing.
Well, that’s obviously not true. There was hip-hop in North Carolina before Petey Pablo happened, it’s just that I and most other people don’t know about it. Ski Beatz, he of producing-for-Camp-Lo-and-Jay-Z-when-he-still-had-the-hyphen-in-his-name fame, is from North Carolina. Before he made dead presidents off producing “Dead Presidents II,” he rapped as part of an NC hip-hop crew called the Bizzie Boyz. His name back then was Will-Ski, and depending on the track he sounded sort of like De La Soul or an over-enthusiastic, American version of Slick Rick. But between 1990, when Bizzie Boyz’s “Droppin’ It” got a little love from the mixshows in New York, and 2001, when Petey Pablo dropped “Raise Up,” North Carolina rap was all but nonexistent.
So if you are Petey Pablo, effectively the first North Carolina rapper dropping what is effectively the first North Carolina rap album, you must first and foremost do two things. One, you must tell them who you are, because you have no one else to do it for you. You are Petey Pablo. It’s your name on the CD, and now it’s the chorus of that CD’s first song, which you have also named after yourself.
The next thing you must do is tell them where you’re from, because you have no one else to do that for you either.