Petey Pablo ... rock star? It's something that the country-bred Southern rapper claimed could happen one day.
"I'm not a rapper, I'm not what you consider to be a hip-hop artist," he said recently. "I'm an artist, period. If I wake up tomorrow morning and want to do a hard rock song and I want to call up Kid Rock or Fred Durst, you might not even realize that's really me you're listening to."
Petey makes the first strides toward broadening his horizons on his second album, Still Writing in My Diary: 2nd Entry, which is due early this year. After the surprise success of his debut, Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry, the North Carolina native is peppering his rural crunk with raucous party tracks, melodic rhythm & blues and down-home confessionals.
In fact, one of the "guests" Petey unveils on 2nd Entry is a throwback R&B singer named Bobby Green. "Look out for Bobby Green because Bobby Green is really doing his thing on this album," he said with a wink. Who is Bobby Green? Well, Petey wouldn't explicitly say, but it wasn't hard to realize from the name alone — a combination of old-school soul men Bobby Womack and Al Green — that he was talking about an alter-ego. "[He's] the soulful side of my album. Not only do I have a funny, hangin'-out, let's-get-freaky side, but [this too]."
That "let's-get-freaky" side is represented in the first single from 2nd Entry, "Freaky Leaky." Petey isn't one who usually talks about jewelry, fancy cars and the lavish lifestyle often portrayed by his Northern peers. But on this song, he certainly lets the more raw and rambunctious side of him come out and play.
"This song is really like a step out there in the water, talking about some real freaky stuff. When I woke up that day, that's what I wanted — I wanted to get freaky."
Petey says he's been finished with 2nd Entry for a few months. That hasn't stopped him from working in the studio, however. He made a quick trip to New York recently to record a healthy dose of new songs for mixtapes and various soundtracks. "I get a lot of stuff going when I go in the studio," he said. "That's my place, that's my zone, that's my playing field.
"If you had to place me in a category as far as what I do with my music, I'd fall in the Tupac category," he added. "I record just like that — I've got four or five albums just waiting right now."
Petey's recent output has included a song he finished for a DJ Kay Slay album, a track with Bubba Sparxxx and two with Missy Elliott. Since Timbaland had a hand in discovering Petey Pablo, working with Missy seemed inevitable, Petey said. The two songs they recorded are called "Whole Wild World" and "Break Me Off," though he doesn't know what will happen to either of the tracks. "I don't want to pull out all my big guns," he said. "She's a megastar. You don't want to wear that out. I want to keep something."
Petey got down on another collaboration recently, one that surprised even him. In the fall, he flew out to Los Angeles and recorded four songs with Will Smith.
A grimy, Dirty South rapper like himself was the last thing Petey thought Smith would be seeking, but sure enough, he received a call from the pop superstar, who paid for Petey to join him in the studio.
"You don't really hear about Will working with other rappers. For him to call me and bring me to his house?" Petey said with disbelief.
So what did he think of the experience? "I'm in his house, in his kitchen, eating a banana out of his bowl. It's like, hey, man — I'm really here."