Madeleine Byrne is all the way live.
Carte Blanche marked a new start for Phat Kat. He’d been burnt by a bad record deal and rebounded by exhaling flames over five J Dilla instrumentals (alongside beats from Black Milk, Young RJm and Nick Speed). It was an assertion of independence and local pride. Detroit undisputed, complete with cameos from Elzhi, Guilty Simpson, Black Milk, T3, and one of Detroit’s hip-hop OGs Laswunzout’s Loe Louis.
This July, Below Systems is reissuing the 2007 album with two previously unreleased Jay Dee-produced tracks. POW is proud to première one of them today: “It Don’t Get No Liver Than This” featuring fellow Detroit native La Peace.
The Phat Kat/Jay Dee partnership dated back to 1995 when as 1st Down the duo put out “A Day Wit’ The Homies” and later the Dedication to the Suckers EP (the original Payday Records record apparently came about after a chance meeting with Gang Starr in a Detroit record shop). Known as Slum Village’s 5th member, Phat Kat also appeared on Fan-tas-tic Vol 1 and Detroit Deli, as well as other Jay Dee productions, leading up to Carte Blanche.
The Phat Kat-J Dilla collaborations, it’s been said, brought out a harder and more aggressive quality to J Dilla’s beats. This is open to debate (pre-Carte Blanche releases, notably Welcome 2 Detroit and the “Fuck The Police” single aren’t light on dark energy), but there’s no doubt Phat Kat’s street wisdom, “ability, discipline, swiftness (and) agility,” more than matched J Dilla’s focus.
What dominates in the Dilla cuts from Carte Blanche is the sheer density of the beatmaker’s punch. See the circular whirl of “Nasty Ain’t It?” that never lets up, until the end when Dilla adds more texture. No showy drums, just repetitive techno-inspired sound. Likewise, the album’s first single “Cold Steel,” features Elzhi and is still impressive one decade on. Forcing you to recognize it as “classic shit,” Phat Kat honors “fallen friends, family and soldiers,” while the beat’s faux-simplicity almost obscures just how individual and radical it still is.
Today’s reissued track, “It Don’t Get No Liver Than This,” is more groove Dilla than Jay Dee as destroyer and as such allows a classic New York sound to come through. Different to the more energized Dilla Carte Blanche beats, “It Don’t Get No Liver Than This” keeps it mellow, the low sounds and drums at the forefront as the MCs boast of their “rough rhymes” and how they represent “the 313.”