Three years ago, rising rapper and R&B artist Pat Anthony couldn't sing.
Growing up in Denver, he had dreams of becoming a hip-hop star; he practiced beatboxing and participated in rap battles throughout middle school and high school. Then around age 21, he started taking music seriously, soon after his best friend passed away in a car accident in December 2015.
“He was the one that always told me, ‘You need to do this. You need to make something out of it,’” Anthony recalls.
Following his friend's death, Anthony locked himself in his room for three days, decided to create music under his own name, and eventually taught himself how to sing by watching YouTube videos.
Now he's been making a mix of R&B and hip-hop for two and a half years and has released his album Love and Drugs, which demonstrates his talent as a singer, a songwriter and rapper.
We sat down with Anthony to discuss his transition from rapping to singing, and the message he hopes to relay with his music and his new project, Love and Drugs.
Westword: What was the shift from rapping to singing like?
Pat Anthony: Super natural; it was really natural. I always struggled with patterns and how to release them on an actual track when I was rapping. But when I was singing, it was just so fluid. It was very easy to do. That was a really good transition, because it took that whole element that I had with rapping completely out of it and made [the music] more natural and believable, which is the biggest thing in music. You have to be believable. If you’re not, then you’re kind of SOL.
Singing could express your feelings more and add more emotion?
It does. It’s more relatable, too. Your demographic in rap is going to be basically people from the age of twelve to about 24, whereas, in singing, it’s about age seven to 45, which is a huge demographic compared to the other one. That’s why we decided to go with that. Also, because it was an obvious different level, because my rapping was here and my singing was up here.
Tell us about the project, Love and Drugs — its intent and inspiration.
Love and Drugs was a project that I recorded completely off of a $1,500 budget. We did everything: mastering, production and exclusive rights to all the music. My main goal was to really produce a seven-song EP rather than a fifteen-song album, because quality control is a lot easier to look at. I started with a really good pop single, which was “Stay.” We wanted to bring people into the album itself and then switch it off.
Love and Drugs is a play on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde somewhat. It is different sides I have to myself. Love being the very passionate side and very family-oriented person that I am. Family is everything to me. Loyalty is everything to me. But I also have this very abrasive and rash decision-making, which is the drug side. I don’t think too much about the things that I do — I kind of just jump. It allows me [to be successful], but sometimes it allows me to stumble and humble myself a little bit. I wanted to portray that. The album starts off with an R&B song, then a trap, hip-hop song and then back to an R&B slow song. It’s a flip-flop — back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. That’s how I feel my emotions are. Sometimes I’m very, very nice and kind, and other times, I don’t really care what anybody has to say as long as I get what I need to get done. It’s a play on that, and I think we expressed it pretty well.
How have you found your lane, your voice?
When I was younger, I was constantly picked on. I was an awkward, chubby, weird kid — super weird. I was beatboxing in the middle of class…just an odd kid. It took me a long time to gain confidence. A lot of the projects I’ve done up until now display that non-confidence I had. You can really tell. In this one, I went in there, and whatever anybody had to say, I just didn’t think about it. I went in there and made the best music I could make to my ability and situation I was in. ... When I was in high school for instance, I told people I wanted to be a rapper. They’d laugh and joke and told me, “You’ll never be that.” They may have been right, but I took that, and it made me who I am today. I really want to portray that in this album, fully about the skill set I have. That’s why I do R&B, that’s why I do hip-hop, that’s why I do all this — so you can see the diversity I have in my voice. I really wanted to display the writing, too. That was the main concept of this project — to show my writing ability and everything I personally can do.
What is the message behind your music?
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Be yourself. Really be yourself, and don’t be ashamed of who you are. That’s what it comes down to. Like I said, being picked on constantly when I was younger…I’m thankful for everyone who did that to me, because it made me an interesting person. I know how to deal with that kind of thing now.
And don’t take no for an answer, no matter what. Everybody that is successful — the difference between them being successful and not is them getting that. You can be told no a million times, and there is that one time you’ll be told yes. That’s basically how I move — I stick with it. It doesn’t matter who it is or what it is. I have a dream, a goal, and I want to meet it regardless of who is in my way or what I have to do to get around that. The extra mile I have to take, I’m going to do that. That’s what I want to portray in this album, so people can know no matter what you do, you’re important in what you do. Regardless of what people tell you, regardless of how you feel and the doubt you have, it’s just doubt. It’s all in your head. That’s the main thing I make music for. A lot of my fans, they’re not the cool kids. They’re outcasts, the nerdy kids, the people who aren’t the prettiest.
I got stopped by a guy in a convertible…he was fifty years old and missing his teeth: “Pat Anthony, oh, my gosh!” I love that way more than the person I got recognized by at the movie theater that was also a musician. That resonated with me so much more, because if I can make somebody’s life better for three and a half minutes or four minutes, then that means I did something worthwhile.