You might recognize Floyd Patterson, aka Pronoun, by his brilliant solo work, or as one of the talented emcees behind the hip-hop collective The Analogous Enterprise. A New York expatriate, Patterson brings a taste of the northeast to his music in a way that’s hard to explain until you hear it. There is a grittiness here that to my ears seems undeniable. You can catch Patterson performing this Sunday as part of the LouiEvolve Festival at the Tim Faulkner Gallery and you can hear what he’s all about below courtesy of his most recent release. We caught up with Patterson to ask about the difference between Louisville and NYC, his work with The Analogous Enterprise, and if he would use his super powers for good or evil!
Never Nervous: Tell us a little about yourself. If someone came up to you and asked you what you were about, what would you tell them?
Floyd Patterson: I’m in your Top 10, and you don’t know it yet. I honestly believe that. I have a reputation for being confident, but I am not a cocky at all when I say that. I’m probably the most humble, friendly person you’ll every meet. But I am dead ass serious about my music. People don’t really understand, but there was a solid 4-5 years of my life where I walked the streets of my hood in New York EVERY SINGLE NIGHT and wrote records. Every night, for THOUSANDS of consecutive nights. That is not an exaggeration. Rain, sleet, snow, good day, bad day, my dog died, etc. Didn’t matter. I walked and I wrote. This is ALL I DID at night for most of my early adult years. So I’m really good at it.
I literally walked around during Superstorm Nemo (the one where the Long Island Expressway shut down), for inspiration. Wrote some shit called Black Ice and flipped into a song about how life sends you off the road unexpectedly sometimes. This rap shit is literally my life. I’m not out here to be rich, or famous, or popular. I rap because I truly believe that I have something new to offer the culture. I have some of the most groundbreaking material I can think of, whether mainstream, or underground.
People have this thing where if you’re not “famous” or not considered the “hottest” nigga in your city that you ain’t shit. That someone on my level of the totem couldn’t possibly be as dope as J. Cole or Kendrick for example, no disrespect to them. I look at one thing primarily. The music. What does your MUSIC sound like my nigga? You can achieve anything in this music shit with the right amount of money or connections EXCEPT making groundbreaking music. You can not fake the fucking funk.
I hold my reputation as a skilled, creative, heartfelt, but not overbearingly judgmental or boring rapper as my edge. I am simply better than most rappers on a musical level. So yeah. If someone asked what I was about, I’d say I’m in your Top 10. And if you listened to any of my albums and pretended I’m the same guy who just had a BET Cypher, you’d see why I say that. Perception is everything though, so I’m working on being considered great more so than striving for greatness nowadays.
NN: What led you to music? Was it always hip-hop or did you start with something else and work towards it?
FP: I used to be a DJ on a local pirate hip-hop station called “Blazin 100.1 FM”. I started at 14 when I met the owner of the station in science class. I came over his house and shortly there after became a DJ. I never really cared much about hip-hop before then, I was more a science nerd than a music nerd. He had one of those Creative Zen MP3 Players with the entire radio station, about 1000 songs, on it. The Zen was like an iPod but before the iPod came out, so it was the size of a CD player with 4 AA batteries. He let me borrow it.
I started listening to rare Eminem and early Big Pun shit and got hooked on how creative they were with words. It all started there. I approach rapping like how a scientist approaches an experiment. I’m just infinitely curious and always trying to figure out how to do something new, and that’s why I’ve stuck with it for a decade. It always changes man. If there was a grand formula to making great lyricism, I’d have found it by now in all seriousness. That’s why I love it. Words and how they flow together is never boring to me, you can always push the boundaries.
NN: Do you remember your first verse? If so, what was it?
FP: My little brother and cousins were in a rap group called the “Packaz and Moovaz”, they had a pretty big buzz and dope lyricism especially for their age but it was all super gangsta. Being from a rougher area of Long Island, it was real shit but it was almost too one mindedly gangsta.
I asked them one day in the car with my aunt why they only talked shoot em up gangbang shit on records. My younger cousin responded with “This is what you have to say for people to listen to you.” I was shocked, I always knew some people had that mentality but I felt like my little cuzzo was smarter than that. A couple more minutes of back and forth and my brother said “If you’re not gonna make a song yourself, shut up.”
I ended up using a beat from J-Dilla’s “Donuts” album called “Thunder“. It was aggressive and super lyrical, almost a lightweight diss to people who had the mentality of my little cousin, but not towards him or them specifically. My brother listened to it and ran in the room like “WE’RE MAKING YOU A MYSPACE MUSIC PAGE!!! Almost a decade later, here I am.
NN: To your mind, what is hip-hop? How would you define the genre in 2016? How do you see yourself in that system?
FP: Hip-Hop is the youth culture of choice in 2016. When I was younger it was almost cool for people outside Hip-Hop culture to say “I hate rap. Rap is crap, they have no talent, etc.” Nowadays, Hip-Hop is everywhere and even if you don’t like Hip-Hop you probably at least respect Hip-Hop as a viable music and culture. The hip-hop genre ebbs and flows between extremes, I’ve always believed that being successful in mainstream rap is more about timing than anything.
So for instance, 50 Cent ruled the world in the early 2000’s and everyone wanted to be a gangster…until Kanye surfaced on the complete opposite end of the spectrum and everyone wanted to backpack and a conscious rapper. Then Lil Jon and Crunk music took off and it was all about partying and not giving a fuck, then Drake came out and everyone wanted to be sensitive and sing on their records, then Future and trap music took precidence and everyone wants to turn up and sound almost inaudible on records, like autotune but with mumbling instead of sound manipulation. It always changes every 2-5 years, from one extreme to the next.
Nowadays Kendrick, Cole, Chance, etc are dominating and everyone wants to be lyrical, which plays exactly into my hands. I am a lyricist, first and foremost but I fully understand that other aspects of your songs are just as important.
There’s a fine line between being a dope lyricist and being a guy who uses big words and is boring as fuck. As someone who prides himself on his pen, I fit perfectly into the upcoming era of hip-hop. Trap music isn’t declining, but it is slowly transitioning into a lyrically dominant era and I’m very excited that I’m ready at the right time.
NN: I understand you migrated here from NYC. How was it coming up in New York as an artist? What’s the scene like there? How do you cut through all the static? I’m sure there are tons of events that happen every day. Well here’s the thing, I’m not from NYC. I’m from Long Island, New York.
FP: In NYC there’s a lot going on but it’s hard to separate yourself from the millions and millions of other people climbing the ladder. But in Long Island, there aren’t a lot of places to perform and really get yourself out there. That’s not to say they don’t exist or there aren’t people grinding, but it’s less.
NN: How would you compare the New York scene to Louisville? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each?
FP: The difference is small but large. There are four counties on Long Island from west to east; Kings County (Brooklyn), Queens County (Queens), Nassau County and Suffolk County. I’m from Suffolk. The main difference is the further East you go, the more spaced out the houses and businesses are from each other. Due to that, there really isn’t a lot of opportunity to perform Hip-Hop on Long Island, especially where I live. One of the main reasons I moved to Louisville is so I could perform more often and sharpen my stage skills.
With that said, the actual NYC scene is large as fuck but it’s very hard to cut through the static since everyone wants to be the next great New York rapper. It really boils down to who you know, not necessarily how good you are or how much work you’ve put in, but that is honestly the same anywhere in the country. NYC is a literal 1 1/2 hour train ride from my home though, so going back and forth to the city for performances, while possible, is way harder than being here and driving 30 minutes max to any venue in the city.
There’s also a lot of “pay-to-play” performances in New York. So for instance, there was a show in NY that I was contacted about last year while living here. We’re going over the particulars, and the deal was that I had to pay $170 to perform for a 10 minute slot opening for Busta Rhymes. I would then get 20 tickets, that I could sell for $20 a piece.
Now, that’s not necessarily a BAD deal, major artists bring more exposure and the venue was well known and hard to get into. Sell all 20 tickets, and you make $30 profit and perform. But what if you don’t sell all 20 tickets? Or what if you wanna give one to your mom, uncle, or good friend to see you? Well…now you made $10. Do that twice, you taking a loss.
It’s not a bad format by design. This rap shit is not free. I know a lot of rappers in NY and Louisville who do pay for play and I’m probably gonna do so myself soon, but if you don’t have an established fan base to sell those tickets or don’t have extra income to pay for them, it can be difficult to consistently perform. And the biggest part of putting on a show worthy of paid admittance is practicing in front of people to perfect your stage presence, so I came to Louisville.
NN: What’s the story with The Analogous Enterprise? How did you come to work with that collective? What did you learn from your experience?
FP: Analogous is something I’d been working on since before I moved to Louisville. Myself and Cam Adams met through social media and ended up becoming good friends, talking about music. At the time, Cam was working with Looney Tha Prablum aka Ellius Wishwire aka King Wish (he has a lot of names) and asked if I wanted to collab with him on a record. Looney was young, 18 I think, and ended up making a beat, writing his verse, and the hook for “Boneyard” in a few hours, which was dope as fuck to me. I recorded my verse and the song was so dope we kept working.
Eventually I visited Louisville and the day before I left the city we had a studio session with me, Looney, Dom B and Eliezer Zev aka Ivry, and Tay All Day. Speak My Mind, the intro track to our “Don’t Follow Rules” mixtape was that first song we all recorded together and it convinced me that we should work together more. Upon returning to NY I got fired from my job over a misunderstanding, and with nothing tying me to New York besides my family (who gave me the blessing to leave), I moved to Louisville.
Analogous are my bros. I truly believe that we have the best collective of rappers in the city, no disrespect to anyone. The level of lyricism is just astounding. The wild thing is that all of us are another one’s favorite rapper in the group. Wish is always telling anyone who will listen that Dom B is the best. Etc. The level of respect I have for these guys musically is as high as any of my rap heroes, especially after working with them so closely and seeing the grind.
Looney/King Wish is the hardest working rapper in the city. He constantly has rap battles which are essentially 9 minute long diss records that you have to remember and repeat on stage flawlessly, he’s literally sitting on 3 full mixtapes worth of music, and he’s always yelling lyrics in my ear at random then being like “Ohhhh nigga!!!! I’m the greatest!” *flexes muscle*. He’s right though. Looney is the best battler in the state of Kentucky, I stand behind that quote. And his music is every bit as good as his battles are.
Dom is just a force of creative nature. I’ve literally seen this nigga play Smash Brothers with me, play Pokemon on his DS, make a beat on his computer and write a song to it in the same 60 minute span. At the same time. His level of creativity is off the charts, and he’s also is a dope graffiti writer. I’ve gone on a few bombing runs with him, it’s nuts. He’s just the most hip-hop dude I’ve ever met. I bet that nigga could breakdance if I asked him, and if he didn’t he could probably figure it out after trying a headspin or two.
Eliezer Zev does just about everything musically. Name another person who is a high level Hip-Hop lyricist, and can sing an R&B record, AND can make an authentic Reggae record? I’ll wait. Seriously, Alex is nuts. It’s like every few months he’s like “I wanna try something different” and then he just studies it until he can make a completely different genre of music at a high level. If he ever decides to do Country, he will probably make the most fire Country record I’ve heard, and I’m absolutely serious.
Cam doesn’t rap, but that dude literally drove to New York to bring me here, and facilitated where I would live when I got here. Cam is the homie, for real. Without him I would not be in this city, and honestly wouldn’t have learned enough about Louisville to care about Louisville 4 years before Bryson Tiller hit it big. I’ve been saying for a while that Louisville could be next as a big hip-hop hub, and everyone called me crazy for leaving New York for Louisville. That’s all due to 3am conversations with Cam that he turned out to be absolutely right about.
More importantly though, I actually LIKE the people I work with. Analogous means “similar but not exactly the same”. That’s where the name came from, and that’s why this works. We’re very similar artists and people, but not the same so the mix is incredible on a record. The squad is just fucking ferocious. There is not a single show that we’ve done since I got here 2 years ago that we didn’t have random people congratulating us and asking for our contact info afterwards. Not a single show, in 2 years, and we’ve literally done over 50 shows as a group at least. We are truly elite and anyone who has seen us perform knows this.
NN: Do you make your own beats? If yes, how do you compose? If not, how do you find composers to work with? Relative to the last question, if you are working with outside producers, how do you maintain quality and cohesion in your music?
FP: I don’t make beats. I used to, but as I caught the rapping bug I realized I know so many quality producers I’d rather just work with them and focus on improving my songwriting. I made that a policy early on, and now I know even MORE producers so things are lovely. In terms of working with producers, I just know what I like when I hear it.
People always ask me if I have a “style” of beat I like. No. I rap over trap beats, I rap over boom bap East Coast shit, I rap over soulful shit, I rap over edm shit, I’ve literally made a song over a beat that samples the Sonic and Knuckles theme music. I don’t give a fuck, if it’s dope, it’s dope. But I have to hear it, I can’t even place exactly what makes me like a beat. It just has to pass the ear test.
And FYI for anyone reading, I’m working on a new project produced by and featuring Louisville producers and artists exclusively. The artists are pretty much picked already, but if any producers want to produce a Pronoun record…hit me up online. I’m everywhere.
NN: When should we expect a new record?
FP: Originally I was gonna release one this weekend, but I got tied up in a few things. I will say this though…soon. Way sooner than you expect, especially since the original release date was April 17th when we perform at the LouiEvolve Festival. I’m really excited for the festival, as I was part of the roundtable discussions that the idea came from. Taylor, Dave, Jared and all the guys who did the groundwork are a godsend for the rap scene.
I will say that you’ll see a new video or song, if not an entire new album by June at the latest. I just gotta get everything lined up how I’d like, because again, timing is everything.
NN: Why do they keep making Transformers movies and how can we stop them?
FP: I think I’d be like Anonymous, the international hacking team. Meaning, I’d probably rob banks for funding, but only corrupt banks. And then I’d completely fuck up the lives of bad people, but only the cream of the crop bad people. You gotta REALLY fuck up to get a brother to fly through the window at Mach 2 though. Donald Trump could catch a bad one, random dude up the street who robbed Lil Ray Ray…probably not. I gotta find time to rap somewhere.
NN: What non-musical things get you riled up? Have you read, watched, eaten, or drank anything worth talking about lately?
FP: I’ve just started catching up on Marvel’s Secret Wars comic series. I won’t ruin it for anyone but what I will say, is that this version of Doctor Doom is probably my favorite Doom ever. Besides that, I just finished Daredevil Season 2 on Netflix, that was awesome. I had Hibachi Shrimp for lunch at Oriental Cafe, that’s a steal for 6.00 as a lunch special.
Besides that, The Joe Rogan Podcast is the most informational way to pass time if you don’t feel like listening to music. I’ve learned about comedy, MMA, drugs, health, politics, science just about every subject because the guests he has on the show are all no-nonsense experts at their chosen fields. It’s awesome to listen to on the way to work. And Joe is a comedian so the humor is there to cut through a 3 hour conversation about black holes.
NN: Last but not least, what have you been listening to lately and why?
FP: Pusha T and Royce Da 5’9″. Pusha’s album and Royce’s mixtape are lyrical excellence. Being a hardcore lyricist I struggle to find music that I find lyrically groundbreaking or excessively dope. I listen to everything but when I’m in a lyrical mood most rappers just frustrate me. They don’t. Those two are my heroes right now, because not only are they elite lyricists but they’re telling the WHOLE truth. Omitting the less flattering parts of a story is how most rappers end up being fake. It’s not about what you say, it’s what you leave out to make yourself look better that is the fakest of shit.
Pusha’s talking about being a dope boy and fucking up, then making it back. Royce is rapping about how his autistic son takes priority over all rap shit. It’s very dope, very honest, very legendary-level music. It’s what I aspire to, and as I’m getting older I’ve realized I’m musically close to the same level, if not already there. So that keeps a guy optimistic.