The discussion of new age, “mumble” rappers is never-ending. Old heads bash their outlandishness and boisterous call and responses. Unfortunately, any hip-hop artists freshly arriving on the genre’s horizon are lumped into this generational category – accused of erasing the guidelines previously scripted by the lyrical legends themselves. If there’s anyone undeserving of the doubt of “Millennial rap,” it’s the soft-spoken kid from Indianapolis, Indiana. Pat App.
As I arrived at Naptown Thrift’s home base – Infinity Storage on South Broad Ripple’s 52nd Street – I immediately recognized the purposeful pace of the Pat I’d seen on YouTube videos.
There was a pleasantly surprising air of preparation surrounding me and Pat’s first encounter. He was completely focused on his verses and slightly unconcerned with the usual small talk associated with first impressions. I appreciated his ability to remain in the zone – unfazed by the hustle and bustle of the thrift store’s shoppers and Kendrick’s DAMN. blasting over the loudspeaker.
That’s why it took about half an hour for me to notice that Pat was missing from the shop. My concern was quite honestly replaced with a bit of irritation when his team (more of a partnership with videographer and friend, Levi) seemed unfazed by his disappearance. “Oh, he probably just stepped outside to go over his verse.”
What I initially perceived to be inconsiderate made perfect sense as I got to know the man behind the Pat App brand. Intensively introspective and meditative – everything happens when it happens because it’s the right time for it to happen.
Fast forward about an hour, and we’re ready for the interview. I was lucky enough to snag Pat from his busy schedule of performing on college campuses and writing rhymes in his dorm room for an evening of interview questions and freestyles. We chatted about his inspiration for writing, his ultimate goal to encourage the youth to be more spiritual and his creative process in a small town filled with unfocused college kids and cornfields.
By the end of the interview, I had completely forgotten about the first encounters of our meeting. Instead, first impressions were replaced with admiration for someone who genuinely cares about the culture that is behind, in front and layered in between the music that he creates.
Keep reading to get to know the man behind the records and, of course, the dope Naptown Thrift Freestyle.
Portions of this interview have been revised for brevity and clarity.
How’d you even get into rapping?
I started rapping for in-class projects where you write a rap for English class. After 2 or 3 people were like “yo, you’re kinda dope!” I wrote and recorded a couple of songs into my voice memos on my phone. I would mix them into a beat on the computer and release them on Facebook. People trashed on them. They were my first songs that I was writing but I loved it. I thought I could get good at it. At the time I was running cross country. I went on to get good at that but around the end of my junior year I got a stress fracture that forced me to sit out for 10 weeks. During those 10 weeks I worked on my first full LP.
That was like your Ten Day! Ten Weeks!
Right! I recorded that on my phone as well. Levi heard that in his class and it was getting around the school so that’s how we linked up. We started filming that summer and just went forward, worked with more artists and advanced that way. So yeah, I started freshman year and once I linked up with Levi we just decided to get it.
You’re at Purdue studying Management? I was expecting you to be studying Recording or something music related.
I think I wanted to learn the business side so I can be more versatile than simply being an artist.
What’s the plan once you graduate from Purdue?
Full-time music career. Just diving into it. Not having any other commitments. Just using that time to create as many opportunities as possible.
In my current living situation I have a studio in my room so that’s what I’ll be on this summer – pumping out as much music as I can, traveling and performing and just building a fanbase.
So music isn’t an afterthought? It’s at the forefront?
In your lyrics, you talk a lot about educating the people and uplifting the community. How do you plan to do that and what makes you equipped to do so?
I connected with my own sense of spirituality at an early stage in college. Like any other college kid, freshman year allowed me to develop my own beliefs and lifestyle because I was out of the house and away from my parents’ rules. I started meditating and learned about chakras from Hinduism. It really transformed my mental state and my state of health. I was able to find peace within myself like I’ve never been able to find before. I just watched like a transformation.
I started meditating and learned about chakras from Hinduism. It really transformed my mental state and my state of health. I was able to find peace within myself like I’ve never been able to find before.
Me and Levi connected on spirituality around that same time and we were just speaking about all the things that we were learning. We were sharing our spiritual practices and knowledge and that was around the same time that we created Soul Fam. The vision was for it to be a collective of creators who shared knowledge and resources together and also outreach to the world as a lifestyle of acceptance and simply staying true to yourself. So, everybody has their own beliefs and I have my spiritual beliefs but it’s like… what guides you forward? I think it’s very important to stay true to yourself with so much going on. It’s a lifestyle.
So, everybody has their own beliefs and I have my spiritual beliefs but it’s like… what guides you forward?
That’s dope, that’s powerful. So who all is a part of Soul Fam collective?
Me, Levi, Benjy Beats is a producer and key member, and our homie Joe who runs a clothing brand called SI and is the newest member of our crew. We’re the core that runs the operation now but Soul Fam in general is a lifestyle for everyone to associate with. We’ve got fans putting it in their bio and everything and we just try to tweet and post a lot of empowering information.
That’s awesome. So your goal is to share that empowerment through your music?
One thing I really like about you is your consistency. From your rhyming style to what you talk about in your music. How do you maintain that consistency?
I don’t. [Laughs.] That’s just what I release. I like to feel like I’m very versatile and literally like the last 2 or 3 years I’ve just been very isolated to myself stacking up on a lot of music that I’m excited to release.
When will that be?
I’ve finished recording my first full-length project and that’s in the mixing and mastering stages right now. We’ve got a campaign of video and single releases built around it. We’re aiming for the end of the year, but it’s really when the time is right.
it’s really when the time is right
You seem really introspective, like a quiet guy. What are Pat App shows like?
My shows are live because when I’m on the microphone I think like that’s the time that I’m most comfortable expressing myself. People say that I’m reserved and I like to spend time by myself but on the mic I can just let the full fire out.
What’s your creative process like?
My creative process is drug inspired and crazy lately. I’ll be in my room paranoid thinking the ceiling is about to crash but when my mind’s working fast like that, my craziest ideas come about. I really just have fun with it all.
That’s cool. I don’t think many people make something as cool as you do from those moments. Who inspires that process?
I’m definitely inspired by dudes who are doing it right now, like Kendrick, J. Cole, Chance, A$AP Rocky. I think Chance and A$AP did a great job of when they came into the game they established new lanes and new sounds. That’s what I strive for. Kanye for sure. I like Tame Impala and how Kevin Parker is pretty much on a one man band and creative genius. Fleet Foxes, they’re kind of like an alternative band. Their music is very harmonic and it’s cool how they can just work together – there’s like 5 of them and they’re just one stream of sound.
What do you think of the new Kendrick album? DAMN. You rock with it?
Yeah. I actually am operating off of zero sleep right now because I stayed up and listened to it back to back. I wanted to get the full gist of it. And shoot, I’m loving it. It’s cool to see him do that with his prior work to that point and hear him come up to this style.
So you rep for Indianapolis there’s no doubt about that. Do you see yourself growing as an artist here in Indianapolis or do you see yourself branching out and going elsewhere?
I see myself being here. I’ve explored moving to Chicago but I know I have so many ties here that I’d always be in the city. I feel like there’s a culture building in Indy now and I definitely want to be a part of that more and more. Even as I attract opportunities from touring and stuff, I want to come back to Indy and build kind of how Chicago was built by the Save Money group and everybody who’s recording at Classick – like Ravyn Lenae, Smino, John Doe – very organic. Definitely trying to see our community come about here.
How would you describe the Indy art and culture scene to someone who’s never been here?
It’s underground. Versus Chicago – Chicago has a lot of major venues. Indy has low key venues and the artists who are moving forward with the culture they’ll perform at house parties sometimes just because we need more venues. So that’s a huge step of it. That’s on a city level as well, not just music artists.
What’s Purdue’s music scene like? Is there a Purdue music scene?
Me and my roommates make up a fair part of it. My roommate Mardi has been establishing a solid foundation to be a force in the rap industry through his releases. And Jalen, he goes by Adam King, has spent his last 4 years just stacking up on A1 content. Me and Mardi have learned a good amount so we’re excited to help Adam King bring his music to the forefront and emerge as an amazing artist without making the mistakes we did. We just build off each other. Mardi released a video about a week ago, super dope [link to it].
That’s cool to have roommates that all share the same end goal.
What are your parents like? Do they listen to your music?
My dad likes my more aggressive rap songs. Like Anarchy and Beautiful Minds. My mom likes the laid back ones like Retrograde and Generator. It’s interesting. But they really support me and I appreciate that. I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am without them and I’m thankful for the roles they play in my life.
My dad passed down a lot of vintage clothes from the 80’s and 90’s, so a lot of what I have is from his own collection.
You’re definitely different from what people may expect from rappers. People expect rappers to be chaotic and boisterous… you’re not.
I’ve bragged a lot in the past and I have also been humbled a lot by the grind to make it. At this point I just prefer for my actions and art to do all of the speaking for me.
If there’s anything that I appreciated most about my experience with Pat, it’s his motivated resolve. It was quite clear from the very beginning that he’s rhyming for a purpose. Not just for the retweets or likes, but to encourage and inspire young people in the Indianapolis community based on his own spiritual experiences.
Whether you enjoy the music or not, there’s much to respect about Pat App and the Soul Fam collective. Authentic, quality bars are a plus.