More than three years in federal prison apparently taught Project Pat a lesson.
"The first thing I did, man, was thank God, hug my family and play with my kids all the way to the halfway house," the Memphis rapper said of his release on Thursday. "And then I went on to check in, because I'm going by the rules."
Pat, best known for 2001's "Chickenhead," had been behind bars in Beaumont, Texas, since June 2002, when he was convicted of felony possession of a firearm. The punishment stemmed from an incident in January 2001 when Memphis police pulled him over for speeding and found two revolvers under a seat in his SUV (see "Project Pat Sentenced For Firearm Possession"). He was on parole for aggravated robbery at the time.
The rapper will remain on supervised release for another three years, beginning with a stint at a halfway house, where he is allowed to leave only for work.
"They've got a program where they gotta make sure you got a job, make sure you have a place to live ... and eventually they put you on home confinement," Pat said. "I'm gonna be operating as a receptionist slash entertainer kind of thing."
Pat, who conducted his first post-prison interview from a recording studio, is already at work on the follow-up to 2002's Layin' Da Smack Down (see "Project Pat Digging Street Love, Layin' The Smack Down"), although he's not expecting to release it any time soon.
"I'm not rushing," he said. "I just got out. I'm just taking it one day at a time. I'm just gonna stay focused, but we got something hot for you coming out, of course."
Pat wrote constantly while in prison, documenting the harsh realities of his new life.
"When I first got in, I have to admit, I was a little bitter," he said. "I felt like even though I did wrong, I didn't feel like I deserved all the time. But I'm not the judge nor am I the jury, so I just have to accept it and I've accepted it and I've moved on with my life and that's in the past now. But as far as the rhymes and all that, I mean we gonna keep something that the people gonna respond to. My style is telling tales and all that and my rhymes have always had somewhat of a message to them, but I think now, being locked away, I have a deeper message now."
Pat doesn't expect his music to change too much, though, seeing as that even before he went to prison, his lyrics didn't always reflect his lifestyle.
"Sometimes the messages I put out are somewhat of that [street] nature, but the thing is, that's not the person, it's just like an actor or something," he explained. "It's just like when Wesley Snipes is not [the character he played in] 'New Jack City,' but a lot of people get it twisted. They think, 'That's that guy. That's that dude. That's how he roll.' But man, that's definitely not how I roll. I believe in God. I'm a Christian. ... People always trying to stereotype people because of their job."
Also in the works for Project Pat is a book he wrote while in prison. "It's not a bio, it's more like a documentary of the situation I went through," he said. "See, this is the longest time I've ever done. I've done time before in the state. I did more time on this gun possession in the fed than I did on a robbery in the state. You live, you learn, you stay focused, and you just stay on something positive."