By Grant Golden
July 31, 2020
North Carolina independent hip-hop titan Pat Junior has announced a new freeform audio-visual series with the premiere of “Take 10 (Freestyle),” a heavy-hitting track that tackles a wide array of topics from cultural appropriation to misogyny to mental health.
“The ‘Take’ series is a new one track series where I am able to free-write as an artist,” Junior said. “I’m not subject to writing a hook if I don’t want to, I can switch up the beat if I like and I plan on providing visuals along with them along the way.”
“Take 10” is a track that finds Pat Junior at his finest, perfectly towing the line between low-end heavy, high-energy bangers and contemplative, introspective melodies. It’s rare to find a track that clocks in at just over two minutes that covers as much ground as “Take 10.” Junior spends about a minute on each aspect of this song but manages to make every syllable of every line count, driving toward the larger topics at hand.
Junior comes out with his foot on the gas as the video opens with shots of himself in sun-drenched scenes interspersed with historic footage from civil rights protests. The beat drops out on a whim as he spits “just stop imitating this if you don’t give a shit about our melanin,” then thrusts the listener right back into the thick of things as he builds tension with his quickly changing rhyme schemes. Just as we find footing in one cadence, he switches his flow, beckoning the listener to keep up as he covers a slew of social issues.
We see visual accompaniments paired with lyrics: Tik-Tok dances that showcase black music from teenagers who aren’t protesting racial injustice, lives lost by activists dying for the cause, callouts against officers that murdered Breonna Taylor, viral “Karen” clips and their repercussions for black youth.
But, just as we reach the height of tension, the ground falls out once again and lilting piano chords blossom into the mix. We see Junior turn inwards as the framework of the track steers towards mental health and misogyny. Whether it be the implicit misogyny of the rap industry that gets dismissed (“your favorite rapper’s sex lines be sounding weird these days / too many women victims…”) or the outright violence seen with the murder of 19-year-old Black Lives Matter activist Oluwatoyin Salau.
Never a stranger to uncomfortable topics, Pat Junior effortlessly covers many of society’s heaviest problems with an enviable level of resolution and insight. But like any great torchbearer, we see humility and self awareness in Pat’s reflections. “Autumn told me watch my energy,” Pat raps in reference to Charlotte-based R&B artist Autumn Rainwater, “the inner me stay in a stretch / Fantastic with the physics / when they need a catch.” The track closes with a reminder to not only check yourself, but to show that same love and support to those around you, in this case, the black women that are often tasked with bearing the weight of emotional support.
Carrying all that weight takes a toll, a reminder we see as Pat plainly closes out the track: “When’s the last time you checked up on your strong friend?”