Chris Patrick is a natural competitor—plain and simple. In college, the multi-faceted East Orange, NJ native competed in track & field as a hurdler and high-jumper, earning all-academic team honors. Simultaneously, he was molding his craft, putting pen to paper. During his years at Rider University, Patrick made music under the name ‘The Last Mohican’—a moniker that drew inspiration from the film of the same title. Much like the characters that inhabit the film’s world, Chris Patrick considered himself to be a dying breed—a true wordsmith in an era congested with ad-libs and shallow, punchy bars.
Over the course of the next five-or-so years, the rap community he felt akin to began its gradual reemergence. Chris Patrick followed suit—he saw that, when it came to the greats that occupied the same lyrical prowess as himself, most all of them chose to go by their real name—so Patrick opted to drop ‘The Last Mohican’ and fully embraced the authenticity of his decision.
The last few months have presented a surge in Patrick’s musical career. His January project, From The Heart, further amassed an already loyal fanbase, and From The Heart 2 is right around the corner according to the young artist. In late August, he spit one of the best feature verses of 2020—a head-spinning rap exhibition with fellow poet redveil on his critically-acclaimed project, Niagara. To top it all off, Patrick scored a slot for his track “Swish” on the official soundtrack of NBA 2K21, an accomplishment that puts his sound and style into the ears of millions of people across the globe.
This past week, we sat down with Chris Patrick to discuss new & upcoming music, mental health in the social media age, inspirations, and more as part of an exclusive interview with Burbs Entertainment.
Hunter: Tell us a little more about growing up in East Orange and what it was like.
Chris Patrick: East Orange is hilarious, East Orange is hilarious, East Orange is hilarious, it's all the same. For the most part, it was cool growing up in East Orange. I spent a lot of my time there growing up; I went to school there, and I really didn’t start to branch out of East Orange until I went to high school. It has a very diverse group of characters; you got some people who are really good to hang around, and then there are some people that you love them, but you really can't hang around—that goes for people on my block, people just moving in and out. That's really what it is; it's really just an area of just diverse individuals—everybody has something different, everybody’s trying to find a way to do something, everybody’s scheming on something to do. That's the best way to really sum it up—a group of people out there just trying to figure out how to get it.
Hunter: Who is The Last Mohican?
Chris Patrick: That's crazy; this is clearly a Nardwuar interview.
When I was in college, I'm going to say around 2012-2014, I was running as the The Last Mohican. I was not Chris Patrick; I was a rapper known as The Last Mohican. The name literally came about from the movie The Last Mohican. The whole thing was, I felt like I was the last of a dying breed of people who really rapped back when the whole Lil Uzi wave was up, so you got the “ra-ra” and “ya-ya” shit going very crazy. And then, you got me over here rapping. That's how I saw myself—The Last Mohican in the moment.
As time changed, however, we started to switch back from the whole “ra-ra” back to rap, and I got to a point for me where I kind of just wanted to connect on a deeper level than just the name. I look at the greats: J Cole, Kendrick Lamar... Aubrey is Aubrey, but it’s still Drake at the end of the day. I kind of wanted to drop that wall for myself and essentially give people my name, which is Chris Patrick. I had a name before that, but The Last Mohican is my second ever rap name.
Hunter: This is a statement you said in the same video that we found your previous rap name: “My name is Chris Patrick, and hopefully I'll be a future rapper.” Do you ever go back to that video? And how do you feel about that statement?
Chris Patrick: I haven't seen that video in some time. A lot of times when I look back on a lot of the stuff that I wrote or I said or even if I find glimpses of it, it's just crazy to me how such a long time ago I was able to say something like that. Now, I'm here in the moment and I'm looking at a lot of it. It's a very humbling experience for me. Sometimes, I do forget a lot of what I've been through to get to where I'm at, but when I just look at the idea of where I came from, it's always incredible to see it come full circle.
Hunter: This can be taken kind of as a very shallow question, but I feel it also has some depth to it. You said your mom is your biggest inspiration, and a lot of people will say their parents when interviewed, but what really is it? What is it really that inspires you from her?
Chris Patrick: So, let me make sense of it. I believe around 2010-2011, my mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It's a cognitive disorder; it basically stops the nerves from communicating fully with every part of the body. So, occasionally at times, certain things will happen. For example, her eye will twitch and she ain’t make it twitch, or her hand will move or stop moving. Things like that. For the longest of times, it was kind of like trying to figure out how to maneuver through the workforce with that being the situation at-hand. I know she bounced around with jobs a lot of time because shit like that was always a problem.
One of the things that she always did for me, she was just like, “Hey, regardless of what is in front of you in regards to obstacles, you just got to keep trying to figure out new ways to figure it out.” I’ve seen her on her worst days get up and go to work, and to me, that was one of the big things that made me say like, “Yo, I could do anything.” This is before I even knew I wanted to be a rapper, but it was more so like... If she could get up here and do this for jobs that she didn't like, I could do anything at this rate—I just have to put my mind to it. At that point, I could really go as crazy as I want, so that really is what I usually mean when I say like, “Hey, my mom is my biggest inspiration.”
Hunter: So, in your music, I feel like you're very, very honest. How important is it in a world dominated by social media and self-image for teens and young adults listening to your music to really prioritize mental health?
Chris Patrick: My whole thing is this: social media is a game, and the biggest part about the game is perception. It's bad enough already that a lot of these artists get up here and they play that game and they don't give you the proper perception of things, which in turn grants negative results a lot of the times. You got kids, who literally are just like us, watching these guys going up, thinking this is the way to go about things. R.I.P Juice WRLD, but one of the big things he was on always was drugs; a lot of people watch that. There are seeds that are spawned from that type of thing, and you have to be very careful about how you are perceived by the world.
With myself, I know what I've been through. I try to keep it always as clean-cut as possible in terms of just keeping the truth and the honesty there. Because the whole thing as artists... when you're looking from the outside in, it's like, “Wow, these guys are incredible; they must have no problems in the world. They're doing phenomenal.”
Then when you're in the moment, you're like, “Damn, this shit is nuts. I'm doing all this shit to give y’all songs X, Y, Z.” At this point, my whole thing was about transparency. A lot of the reason why I dropped The Last Mohican name and went with Chris Patrick is because I want to keep it transparent. I like the fact that people fuck with me, but at the same time, I do want to let them see that even though you're going through shit, it don't mean I'm not going through shit. The day “Swish” dropped on the 2K announcement, I was going through shit. It's just like, you want to keep it transparent with people at the end of the day.
Once again, it's the perception game; you really just want to show people who you are, you want to be true to who you are. That way, at least the people following you know that they have somebody that they can rock with and confide in. We're all people, and I think maintaining that integrity as a person is the one thing that you should put on the utmost highest priorities.
One day, I just woke up and I think I just started tweeting random shit; I started tweeting more about myself and interacting with people, and that's when I realized you ain't even got to do all that extra shit to make people gravitate towards you. Just be yourself, and who you are will essentially bring in the people who are needed to be.
Hunter: On your song, “All Falls Down” you said, “This is the 25th morning I woke up with tears in my eyes, the fear that I die without becoming anything scares me.” What really strikes home with that for you? Why does it scare you?
Chris Patrick: A little context to that: I finished that song January 25, 2019 and I wrote the second verse that very day. Coming into 2019 was very shit for me; I had a lot of shit going on for me in 2018. Obviously trying to figure out everything with music, I felt like I was just waking up sad every day, crying. That’s really where I was in terms of my head. It really came down to the idea that I saw some of my peers going up toward the end of 2018, even the start of 2019, and I kind of started to feel like, “What if all of this work that I'm putting in doesn't end up taking me anywhere?” and that's the biggest thing that I had on my mind when I was writing that.
The idea of the song is that this whole idea that I've built up is literally crashing down because I don't think that I'm even built to get after what I'm looking for at the end of the day. That really was the whole thing to me. I'm not going to lie, it was a shit time because it's like, you're waking up every day, trying to figure out new ways to do things, only to find out that what you're trying to do is not going to work. It's so trial-and-error. Eventually, I grew out of that, but that whole project is literally just from a darker space of trying to cope with the idea that I might fail with this. It was more of the, “I'm more likely to fail versus going to be successful,” because that's just where my head was at. I was so convinced that I was going to fail that I was almost like bugging the fuck out; I didn't know what to do, I didn't know how to even express that emotion fully when I was writing a whole project.
Hunter: “Because books never readied us, this is a fallacy. This is the real quadratic equations, ain’t never been known to stop hints of brutality...” Right now, do you think there's a series of bars that are ever more relevant?
Chris Patrick: One of the scariest things that I've been experiencing recently is that I feel like I’ve been writing a lot of these before everything in the world going on, and you're not the first person to do it; people have brought up those lines to me before. It's almost scary as hell. Because in reality, what happens is that we sit in school, they tell us everything we should be doing according to books, and then you graduate and you see what the world is really like. The idea that people are going to hide the way they feel or even hide the way that they're going to treat you is no longer a thing, because in schools, they have rules. They have means of consequence, and they reward people who do the right thing. Whereas out in the world, they never reward people who do the right thing, and they almost never serve consequences to those who do the wrong thing.
Obviously as a Black man, it is a little different in regards to how we feel going outside; it's a lot more pressure on our heads, to which I wrote that line. It's not to single out specifically just African-Americans in terms of the plight that's going on, but the idea of that line specifically is just the fact that it teaches everything they want to teach us in school, but they never teach us the things we actually need to survive in life or the things to combat what's actually going on. Nobody really takes that moment; it's more so “stick to the books” and as soon as you graduate, all that shit is out the window. That's where a lot of that comes from for me, just really analyzing the fact that everything they teach us is bullshit.
Hunter: What was the process behind the track “Swish”? You mentioned in a previous interview that when you made the song, you stated that it was trash. Why is that?
Chris Patrick: This was January 2020. I was with my guy Tom Jacob—he's the one who produced and engineered the track. We were in there; he made the beat and I laid it down. We kind of looked at each other like, “Yeah, this shit sucks. It absolutely sucks.”
There's nothing that we can do with it. We kind of just thought like, “Hey, it is what it is.” We really didn't see any relevance for it at all. I played it for the homies, and my manager was like, “Bro, you’re going to get this shit in 2K,” and at the time, I was like, “If that’s what you’re going to tell me, I'll trust it.” We were working hard. We actually went through United Masters, and believe it or not, we were trying to actually submit the song. We didn't get a chance to finish submitting it; I guess it went through somehow. They got ahold of that song, called us in, and we played in a couple of songs for them. They really liked “Swish.” At the end of the meeting, they had told us that they had already submitted it to them to see if they wanted to rock with it. That was actually back in January, and around March or April, they told us that 2K was looking to use it. We got the confirmation officially around May, and even when they said they confirmed that they were going to be using it, nobody knew what it was going to be used for.
I saw the whole Ben Simmons and Quavo thing with the TikTok and I'm like, “Oh, this is crazy.” I was keeping my fingers crossed that “Swish” was in 2K, but I didn’t want to jump the gun or nothing like that. The day before the playlist dropped, I looked it up. There was a guy who was actually running the playlist and he had all the exact songs in there, and I'm like, “Yeah, this is bullshit; there is no way this could be on this playlist.”
Then, I woke up the Monday after I had work at 12 o'clock. I woke up at about 10 o'clock, and I'm staring at my phone; it says the 2K soundtrack came out. I'm like, “Okay, let's see who’s on the soundtrack.” I'm scrolling, I’m scrolling, I’m scrolling, I’m scrolling. I see “Swish” on the soundtrack and I started bugging out. I literally hopped on my bed like, “AHHHHH, WE MADE IT! WE MADE IT! WE IN THERE!” My parents didn’t even know what the hell was going on; they just ran in my room like, “Yo, whats up?” I told them and started turning up. Next thing I know, it’s 11:30. I was like, “Hey, fuck it. I don't even care if I’m late to work,” I walk right in there and say I’m in 2K.
From there, it was literally history. Last Friday when it dropped was probably the craziest moment; literally just waking up, turning on the TV, and then seeing the shit really there for us to play. Just that feeling in itself is crazy; everybody in the room right now with me here is a hooper. I'm the ass-est of all the hoopers, I’m going to tell you that right now. I’m ass. My mans over here, Mizzy Wreck, is very incredible. Everybody in here at one point wanted to go to the league. We didn't make it, obviously, but this 2K play for us is bigger than just the music itself. This is the first league push; this is it. We are present here, and it's just one of the moments that we really got to bask in and just really be super proud of because it was one of those things that we didn't know was going to happen. In addition to 2K, “Swish” got played on the radio and it got a write up from NPR. We didn't know all of this shit was going to happen, and that was all off the strength of me thinking, “Oh, this is going to an ass song,” then everybody else, specifically my manager Nile, saying, “Yo, this is going to be big, Let's do it.” We trusted our intuition, and then from there, things are starting falling into place.
Hunter: Who is your NBA player comp?
Chris Patrick: If yo