'The Golden Boy of Screw': A Conversation with Lil' Keke
On "Money Don’t Sleep" and two of his old friends, Pat Lemon and Corey Blount.
On New Year's Eve, I interviewed the Screwed Up Click's (S.U.C.) Lil' Keke. I wanted to talk to Lil' Keke about his upcoming album, Money Don't Sleep and two of his old friends, Pat Lemon and Corey Blount. I intended to disinter more about these two elusive figures because Lil' Keke recurrently alludes to both in fragments throughout his discography in order to keep them close, but I thought I'd resuscitate them for the rest of us by asking Lil' Keke, "the golden boy of Screw," to talk about who they are and what impact they had on Houston hip hop.
Lil' Keke provided me with a mind expanding, in-depth, and seldom told account of Houston hip-hop through the narratives of Corey Blount and Pat Lemon. Grippingly, I learned that much of the substance of Houston rap and hip hop culture was tremendously wrought by the grandiose lifestyle of Corey Blount and that D.J. Screw's "chopped and slow, double beat, tap tap" sound and Screw tape production were critically facilitated by "the drank man," Pat Lemon. Texas State Board of Education, I got one! And this interview here is for the history books. Ride with me.
Noisey: Who is Pat Lemon?
Lil' Keke: Pat Lemon is a well-known street cat. The Screw house made all kinds of stars, not just the ones on the microphone. We would go in the Screw house on some chilling shit. Screw was getting paid to make a tape and we was just coolin' out. Pat Lemon was just a star from that. He was already a big street person and his name just became bigger through the Screw tapes. There are lots of people on those tapes that are really famous. That's why I tell people the Screwed Up Click ain't just about rappers.
How did you meet Pat?
Just to be honest, Pat was the drank man. The drank man! So I met him from that situation and as I was coming up, I was the golden boy of Screw. I was the youngest. I was the wildest. Everybody was on me. So they all took a liking [and] Pat was another one. Pat used to bring all the drank to the Screw house. It was like a connection, drankin' and screwin', and all of a sudden we just got real cool.
What happened to Pat?
He got killed by his wife.
On New Year's?
On New Year's.
Its New Year's today.
It is New Year's today. He got killed by his wife, in a situation where, [he was] havin' money and havin' too much fun, [they were] arguing, going back and forth, he came home and she killed him.
Tell me about the "R.I.P. Pat Lemon Freestyle."
There are probably 10 of them. We love Pat.
So he introduced drank?
No. Not at all, but, as drank became popular popular popular, he was the man. If you say Pat Lemon, they are going to think, "Pat Lemon, drank." They go together (Laughs).
There was a Screw tape called Southside Still Holdin', based off of his neon, right?
That was in his trunk. He put that in the trunk of his car.
Why do you think that phrase gained so much importance?
The Northside Southside thing was still big. We were doing the cars and people were getting killed. There was a moment in time when it was really getting big and Southside Still Holdin' became… well, people stopped coming outside in their cars, they stopped coming to the club, they stopped ridin', and the people that were still ridin', and still comin' out, and still pullin' their cars up in the midst of all this jackin', it came with a term and it was called Southside Still Holdin'.
So Southside still holdin' means people were not scared to come out?
Southside Still Holdin' means no matter how many cars have been jacked, we still coming outside with these cars. Southside is known for cars and holdin'. So when the jacking and all the shooting and killing started going on, it started slowing down. So when Pat and them started coming out with these cars, we called it Southside Still Holdin'. No matter what was going on, we were still holdin'.
There is a Mike D verse on Big Moe's song "Leanin'" that goes: "We started this shit first, pushing them damn cases, movin' round with Pat Lemon stackin' them big faces. Turned H-town into the city of syrup, slapped twankies on the 'Burb now we 14,5 a bird, you motherfuckers heard?" Here, he says Pat Lemon made Houston the city of syrup.
Wow. At this time, when he is saying that, drank was becoming extremely popular and Pat Lemon was the man at the time. Some people had this much but Pat Lemon had THIS MUCH (Laughs). I can't say he popularized it because before I ever met Pat Lemon we were dranking the shit out of drank, but as drank was leaving and there wasn't a lot of it, he was the man. It's like with anything, there are 1,000 rappers but Jay-Z says he's the man. There is 1000 people with 'oil' but Pat Lemon was the Jay Z of the drank at the time.
In your legendary song "Southside", you said, "gotta pop trunk for that boy Pat Lemon." What does "pop trunk" mean?
Pop the trunk [means] show the neon. That's what it was. We gotta pop it to show the Southside still holdin'. That is what Pat Lemon was known for, popping his trunk and when he popped his trunk, it said "Southside Still Holdin'" in it. And now that he died, we gotta pop trunk for Pat Lemon to show that the Southside is still holdin'.
These are some crazy, man these are some questions man.
I read somewhere on a YouTube comment, like 300 comments below a video, that Pat Lemon was the first person to pop trunk. Is that true?
No. To be honest, I can't tell you the first person to pop trunk, but it ain't Pat. I am sure it's not Pat because there were way more cars out that were doing that before Pat. He was the first one to put "Southside Still Holdin'" in the trunk. We known for this shit. This is why he gets so much notoriety; he was extremely popular during the Screw tape years, which kind of built this city, which were '94, '95, and '96. We were drankin' and doing this shit in '92 and '93. It's like this, Jordan and them been doing everything, but now that the game popular, LeBron James is the name. LeBron James ain't doing nothing on the court that we haven't seen before, it's just he is doing it now and that is what happened with Pat Lemon. It wasn't like he was the richest person or had the best car; he was just a popular street cat during our Screw tape era. That's all.
In your song "Memories," on your newest mixtape Da Leak, you mention "Pat Lemon showing out mackin' to some yellow bones…" Is that a specific memory?
That's just something we all do; all us chocolate guys, we like yellow bones (Laughs).
Pat Lemon man, actually, his cousin, Man Pooh, Pooh Pop, is another name you might hear a lot and he is very popular in Screw tapes. Me and him were best friends and he is Pat Lemon's first cousin. To be honest, this is a true story; I was with Pat Lemon the day before he died. I am talking about ridin' around doing something we ain't got no business in (laughing) and he went home and got killed.
What is your fondest memory of Pat Lemon?
My fondest memory of Pat Lemon was riding down the street one time and we drankin' and smokin' in the car and we get pulled over by a cop and the cop made us pay him in order for him not to take us to jail for this drank and weed. This was so crazy, I remember us having to leave and go get the money and meet the police back at the Church's and he was sitting there waiting and told us, while holding Pat Lemon's I.D., "don't come back and get this I.D., I will take your ass to jail…" We had to drive off, go to Pat Lemon's house, get $700, drive back to the Church's and pay him. And he let us go (laughing). I remember that vividly, like yesterday. I've got a thousand Pat Lemon memories. I remember Pat Lemon dranking drank out of champagne glasses. See, Pat Lemon used to have parties at his house and he would want me and Fat Pat to come in there and freestyle with no microphone. He was the type of dude, that when we free styled and he loved it so much, he would do something like this, let's say we said, "yea I'm riding in the red and I'ma turn all the hoes heads…" Pat Lemon would get up and throw his hat down and say some shit like, "boy don't you say that no more, if you say some shit like that again, I'll run out this God damn door." He loved us! Everything we did, me and Fat Pat, he'd throw his hat on the ground. That's Pat. Pat was a real fun person of the Screwed Up Click.
See making a Screw tape is some major shit; I am talking like for real. Making a Screw tape is damn near making an album. You've got to make a list and turn it in to Screw and he'll call you, he might not never call you. So getting to his house and getting in is going to be a major thing, so when Pat Lemon or somebody gets the call: "I got that call from Screw, we going in tonight at seven." This is a big thang; you've got to call Keke, Fat Pat, we gotta get some drank… we fixing to go in at seven at night and we are not going to leave 'til twelve noon the next day.
Those were all of my questions on Pat Lemon, is there anything else you wanted to say?
I am good. I'm straight.
Who is Corey Blount?
Corey Blount is the S.L.A.B. King (Slow Loud And Banging)
How did you meet Corey?
From the S.L.A.B. Corey is known on our side of town as a S.L.A.B. King. I tell people the reason why people are kings. This is why Screw is the king and not Watts. Watts is a monster. Watts is one of the greatest mixers and one of the greatest D.J.s I ever fuck with. He is from a new era of sound. This might get me in a little trouble. I don't know if Screw can out mix Watts by hand. But the reason Screw is the king is based on timing. When being the king meant something. What Screw did for the game, bringing out that chopped and slow, Watts can't be the king because he wasn't the man at the time. There are a thousand records that's hot right now, Hardest Pits in the Litter, Lil O's, ain't none of them Don't Mess With Texas (available here), because of the timing. When Southside came out, this type of rap, this type of flow, it was the shit, so I don't care if it did 70,000 or 100,000 or 150,000. You can't outdo it because of what it did for the city; it changed the whole culture of the city. Everybody is talking like that right now. I could take that album right now and release it in 2014 and it would be a monster. It's timeless. So that is what made Screw the king. And to go back to Corey Blount, the reason he is the S.L.A.B. King is because he was the king at the time, when S.L.A.B. meant something. There are people out here with 15 S.L.A.B.s or 100 of them, but they'll never be the S.L.A.B. King, because when a S.L.A.B. meant something, he was the king.
To this day, Corey Blount has probably been in jail 14 years. He had a house on the corner of Martin Luther King, his momma house. This is a known statement on our side of town; there is nobody that drives down that street, and don't look to the right. He always kept something in the driveway for you. That's why Corey Blount is the S.L.A.B. King. Corey Blount was the dude with the Suburban, the Lexus, and the drop El Dorado. [You know] The drop El Dorado that all these people riding in right now on 84's? Corey Blount had it in '84 on 84's, $35,000 off the showroom flo'. This was big time talk at the time. Now that doesn't sound like nothing, but in '84 on 84's! That was different. That's what makes him a S.L.A.B. King.
These people now say they got 20 S.L.A.B.S., but you didn't have 20 S.L.A.B.s when it meant something. If I had to pick between Watts and Screw mixing my record, it would be Watts. Screw didn't even make it to C.D.s. But as far as the king of slowed down music, the era, when this happened, chopped and slow, double beat, tap tap, [it was] never heard of. Screw is the king period.
In the song "Tops Drop," Fat Pat's line, "Me & C.B. crawlin' down on boyz, right behind is the Lincoln my favorite toy…" Pat and C.B. were pretty close?
Best friends. Best friends. BEST FRIENDS! BEST FRIENDS! I'm talkinbout friends 'til the end. Inseparable. There ain't one without the other. Batman and Robin. Bullwinkle and Rocky. They grew up together. To be honest, Blount was the S.L.A.B. King but it was Fat Pat's mind. All the shit he was doing to the cars [was because] he got money, but he was using Pat's mind.
When I was growing up, I wanted to be Pat. Pat was a fool, can't nobody talk like Pat. He was sick. Pat was like a mixture of Kool Rock-ski, [a] fat boy dancing, with Heavy D, and Big Poppa; he was dancing, rapping, hooks, he all that. We wanted to be Pat. Pat had the mind for the cars; he knew how to put the '4s, paint them red, put cream inside, and have the floor mats red. This was Pat's mind but Blount had the money. So he got the recognition as king, but it was Pat's mind that was doing it.
On your song "Memories", on your last mixtape Da Leak, you mention "Corey Blount and Sticky 1 sitting outside on them thangs…" and on your last album Heart of a Hustla, you say, "That Bloody Blount, that Sticky 1, they taught me how to hold..." Tell me about those two lines.
They taught everybody. That's where we get all this "red turn head" stuff. Stick was my best friend. He was an older guy. He changed his life. He wasn't a S.L.A.B. King like Blount, but he was a S.L.A.B. King. He was a fool. They were the top of the talk. Here is the thing; every car is not a S.L.A.B. Some of this shit ain't right. But they were right. Right now you hear about riding on '4s. At a point in time, riding on '84s was a privilege. Everybody didn't do that. You had '83s. This sounds cheap now, but '84s was something like $7,000 and around this time in the '90s, '3s was like $1,500 or $2,000. You could count how many people had '4s, maybe 10. That would kill it right there; you could have your whole car fixed up and looking beautiful, but it's on '3s. Corey Blount, four cars, everything on '4s and everything red. Corey Blount was the first of everything; the first one with the $10,000 button… You ever hear choppin' on blades? That came from us. Blades were $10,000 rims called Brabus. Then they came out with some with buttons on them that were $15,000. Blount was the first one with both of them. He had a Lexus on buttons and a 'Burban on buttons and an '84 drop on '4s all in the yard at one time. That's the king man. We'd never seen nothing like this here. Our mommas hadn't got Lexuses yet and Blount had one. Blount was also the king because when we were 13 and 14, Blount was 15 on '3s in the yellow canary Park driving in high school in ninth grade.
See, Blount's daddy was a big time G too. We used to wait for Blount on the corner to pass by. See, this is S.L.A.B. King talk right here. We were waiting for Blount to come by in the "slantback." A "slantback" was a $30,000 or $40,000 Cadillac. My dad didn't have one! Nobody in our neighborhood had one! Blount was about 18 and he got one. It was red with a fifth wheel and white inside. We were waiting for him to come by and blow that horn. A "slantback" Cadillac! Do you know how much a "slantback" Cadillac was in the game? Blount got one. [And] the drop El Dorado. We used to see it on the showroom and it had the sign on it $35,000. Blount bought it. This was serious business. This was memories; Blount coming down the street in the drop with his Roley hanging out. He had his arm out the window with the Roley out the side of the door. See, this talk when we were about 14 or 15! Blount was known for showing up on show up day: Kappa Bach, Classic, wherever the biggest thang fixing to happen, Blount gonna show up holdin'. He never missed show up day. See, there ain't going to be no more of that. That's why he is the king. That's Corey Blount, the S.L.A.B. King. He will always be. It ain't about Phantoms and all that type of shit. We ain't talkinbout that right there, we talkinbout what the city was built on and they made the names for that shit.
Did Corey ever rap?
He did do a flow. It's on Pat's album actually, Ghetto Dreams.
Where is Blount these days?
Blount in the feds'. He been locked up since…Blount cried on my shoulder at Pat's funeral. Pat died March '98. The feds' was at the funeral. They took pictures of Blount crying. Blount went to jail probably 30 days later. Blount has been in jail since April of '98.
What impact did Corey Blount have on Houston hip-hop?
He had a huge impact on it because we were rapping his life. This is what made the Southside so popular. It wasn't about RUN- D.M.C. or none of that shit. We were just rapping how we were living. We have a lot of temptation where we at: Pappadeaux's; Westheimer; Richmond; Astrodome; 288; Toyota Center; Minute Maid; the flea market; and Johnny Dang. So we were rapping straight about this side of town: cars; hoes; Screw; drank, all this shit and they were the leaders. How did they not have an impact when this whole rap culture shit that we are talking about right now, they are still talking about it? You can go to each and every one of the Screwed Up Click rappers and they are going to have about 30 to 40 raps about Corey Blount. These were the people building these streets and we were rapping about our stars. We are self-made stars and we were rapping about these stars. Corey Blount was a person who was 20 or 21 and having $200,000.
In the beginning of Fat Pat's song "Tops Drop," I think Fat Pat's mom enters the room and wakes up Pat and says "Pat, Corey say hurry up, he just called, it's his second time calling, he said he'll be here in 10 minutes and he said be ready…"
Corey and Pat were best friends. They will argue and fight for about two days but then be back together. You ain't fixing to see Blount out in that S.L.A.B. without Pat in there.
Do you have any stories about you and C.B. from back in the day?
One of my favorite stories I like to tell people about me and Corey Blount is about when I got my first S.L.A.B., not my first car on swangers, but my first S.L.A.B. where I had finished it completely, red and everything. I will never forget it being so clean. He wanted to drive it. That was the shit to me. Blount wanted to drive my car? I hurry up and gave it to him. He could have kept it for the next six months if he wanted to. He's the type of person, if you ain't holdin', he don't want to ride. They are serious about it. That was one of my fondest memories, because we all used to hang out hard right before Pat died. That's when everything was really coming together; I just dropped Don't Mess With Texas on July 1, 1997. I was the biggest independent artist in the city at the time. Blount and them was going to all the shows. We were hanging out real hard.
Now I want to talk to you about Money Don't Sleep and what you are doing now. Your new imprint is #7thirteen?
That's how I do it for my logos and merchandise and what I do for the city.
What is an imprint?
It is a brand. I do three different things out of it. The Seven13 music part is how I do the music. I had a mixtape series called Seven13 and the reason why I did it like that was because I've sold a lot of records and been a lot of places, but I love the fourth largest city in the world, which is Houston, and I've made a lot of money here and I wanted to make sure I stayed the mainstay and stayed the king and anytime my career was going up or going down, I could always count on the city to get behind it. You know what I did with Swisha House? I got the whole North behind me. People don't know, throughout my career I sold more records on the North than I ever sold in the South and I know this by paper, by print out.
When I first came with a mixtape series it was Hustle USA and that meant wherever you are from you can be a hustler. When you think of Houston music, I am the music. What most people don't know, you can print this if you want to, but a lot of people think that we here get our swag and our conversation and our talk from U.G.K., but we don't. It's the opposite way around. It really is. The thing about it is they had opportunities before us. For instance, there are people who can shoot basketball way better than LeBron, Kobe, or Jordan, but we didn't get to see them; they didn't get the opportunity. So, we respect U.G.K., we respect Pimp C, we respect Bun B, we respect everything they did for their city, but there are a lot of people across the world that think they brought our swag and "this talk" to this city and it's the farthest thing from the truth. All that "come down," "knowimtambinbout," all that? Pimp C gets that from us. We created that. They came from Port Arthur. Bun is a great rapper. Pimp C is a great artist. He does so many things: make beats; sangin'; doing all kinds of shit. But that talk and that swagger that they got? We did not get that from them. That came from us and that came from our city. That's what Seven13 was about. I wanted to make sure people looked this way as the city was starting to blow. I am Seven13. I am the Don. I am the one here. I created this talk; all this "Southside," "come down," "holdin,'" I made this shit the forefront. I am way before my time. Me and Pat, this is our talk. H.A.W.K., Big Moe, and Screw, and people from our neighborhoods, these Pat Lemons, this is our talk. This is where this talk comes from. We [are] from this shit. One thing about us, if we got $500,000 on the Southside, you going to see it. It's going to look like it; we going to be having chains on, cars, there is going to be a bunch of bitches out, a bunch of parties. You might catch somebody on the North, they [are] going to be conservative and have $500,000 and chilling. But if we got $100,000 you know it. That's where this talk and this swag and all this shit come from. We used to go to dogfights on the North. They be out there with 100 bands with overalls on and an A.K. and I'm out there in the back of these woods like, "I'm fixing to get the fuck from back here (Laughs)."
You released an album on Seven13 called Heart of a Hustla, which was named after a D.E.A. song.
Yes, I made that up. D.E.A. is a friend of mine. That's more Screw tape shit. There is a neighborhood called Dead End. That is where H.A.W.K. and Pat is from. So, there was a guy named Kay-K, he was like a Corey Blount, not as popular with the cars, but a big hustler, like Pat Lemon. He wanted to do music. Pat and them was running around at the time fucking with 3-2 and doing they thang in the Southside Playaz. So we had us a little thang called D.E.A., which was me, H.A.W.K., and Kay-K. I was the hottest shit with the hooks and doing all that. But I ended up going with Herschelwood, cuz it was really more about their hood and it wasn't really involving my neighborhood and putting my neighborhood on the map, so I did maybe seven or eight songs and let it go. That's why the D.E.A cover only has H.A.W.K., Pat…see Pat wasn't even in the D.E.A. at first. He was moving along doing the Southside Playaz thang. Pat didn't even want H.A.W.K. to rap. He was like "H.A.W.K. you trippin', you can't rap." That was his big brother. As that went on, we did a whole C.D., but when we were getting ready to do the cover, I had got a deal with Jam Down, Don't Mess With Texas and here I was bringing my neighborhood to the map. We were young, rowdy, and off the chain. Their neighborhood was a little older than me and kind of conservative doing their thing; they were big hustlers. But, that Herschelwood; we off the chain man: throwing bicycles in the sky; breaking cars; going to parties 100 deep; fighting; we were rugged. That is what was kind of selling my whole image. We were like the Hot Boyz, young and hot and rowdy…girls and tattoos and chains and hundreds of kids on the corner. That's the kind of neighborhood we grew up in, so I brought that to the D.E.A., but it wasn't involving me as a whole with my team and my family, so I kind of let it go.
Now you are about to drop a new album called Money Don't Sleep. What is the single off of that called?
"Worry 'Bout You." featuring Kirko Bangz. We are going to drop this in 2014. It's nice, we got 2 Chainz, Yo Gotti, Kevin Gates, 8Ball, Z-Ro, Paul Wall, and Slim.
What inspired you to write "Worry 'Bout you"?
I ran across "Worry 'Bout you." That is one of the first singles which wasn't my idea. It was a song by somebody else that fit what I do. When they heard the song, "I'm coming down…", they thought of me. [Which is] what they should do. This is the first time we did this. I write all my music. I've never done a song written by someone else.
Don't you have a mixtape coming out before the album?
Yes. A.B.A. 3 or Album before the Album 3, but everything I do is like an album. I do all songs
All my mixtapes have hooks on them. Everything I do is like a record. A lot of people think my mixtapes are better than my albums. You are going to like it. You'll love it.
Would you like to say anything else?
I'm good. You went into some history. I've never really been asked those types of direct questions about Pat Lemon and Corey. It's all good (Laughs).
Douglas Doneson is vegan and lives in New York City, follow him on Twitter - @droopydood.