Lost Ones: What Happened to Petey Pablo?
Petey Pablo is a perfect example of the business sentiment, “it’s never too late to start your dreams.” His rap career takeoff at 27, after five years of incarceration, backs up that statement up perfectly. I’m getting ahead of myself though, let me track back to the pre-rap Petey Pablo to give you an idea of where he came from and why we’ve barely heard a sound from him in almost 10 years. Welcome to "Lost Ones".
Petey Pablo, born Moses Mortimer Barrett in North Carolina, started his ascent into popular hip hop at age 26. He’d just come off of five years in federal prison beginning in 1993 and met hip hop gurus Busta Rhymes and Black Rob. As an aside, Black Rob was a huge up and comer at the time with Bad Boy Records and was essentially dropped from the label along with a number of similar acts around the same time. Mark Curry, a writer and semi-signed rapper ended up writing a great memoir about his time at Bad Boy that I think everyone should give a read to called "Dancing with the Devil: How Puff Burned the Bad Boys of Hip Hop."
Back to Petey Pablo; after Pablo met up with the two artists he was soon signed to Jive records and released the single “Raise Up” with legendary producer Timbaland which eventually hit 25 on the Billboard urban charts. It wasn’t long after that that with only one very popular single under his belt Petey released his first album "Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry". His rough almost DMX like delivery coupled with very rough percussion made him a huge hood sensation especially down south. At a time when mainstream rap was almost exclusively hood, clothes were baggy and it was all about how hard you talked in the streets Petey Pablo was exactly the voice the hood needed. Jive had a bit of success on their hands with the first album when it went certified Gold, hit the Billboard charts and even to my amazement in research landed itself a GRAMMY nomination for best rap album eventually losing to one of hip-hop’s greatest albums, "The Eminem Show".
After the release of the album was finished Petey Pablo was actually on a great track because his second album seemed more promising than the first. Any good critic knows that the sophomore album is the most important, it proves that an artists didn’t have a fluke, that they deserve to be in the spotlight. Petey Pablo deserved and got that spotlight in the early 2000’s both figuratively and literally including his crucial spot in the cult classic film "Drumline" that made band cool for about five seconds for every under 18 out there,
Still, "Writing in My Diary: 2nd Entry", which is the most literal title of an album I’ve ever seen, actually surpassed the popularity of his debut and peaked at 7 on the Billboard charts while still only going gold. The real story though was his single “Freek-a-Leek” witg Lil’ Jon that ended up becoming his best selling song to date. You couldn’t turn on a radio station in 2005 without hearing "Freek-a-Leek". For still unexplained reasons, Petey Pablo took a hiatus from music afte this second album and laid low (and I mean low because I really couldn’t find anything) for a few years before coming face to face with the law. In September of 2010 Pablo was found in a North Carolina airport with a stolen handgun on his way out to LA.
After 35 months in prison, Petey Pablo was released just a short bit ago and even during his time behind bars he released a mixtape, "Carolina #1", from his new independently founded label Carolina Music Group (interesting fan page but it’s all I could find really). In the future Pablo hopes to release his third album and according to MTV he’s in the studio with Timbaland as of recently. I’d hang on to that connection if I were you Petey, it’s about all that seems to be left. Looking forward to perhaps seeing some spotlight shed on a guy who was doing really well and inexplicably has seemed to really go through some issues.
This article originally appeared on RefinedHype.com, which has now merged with The DJBooth. For more info, click here.
Written by Thomas K Welker on 04/10/14
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