Pat Stay Changed Battle Rap Forever

The hip hop and specifically battle rap community are mourning right now. With the modern format of battle rap being so young, we don’t experience tragedies like this often. But when it does, it shakes us to the core. Over the weekend, we lost a true all time great and culture changing star. We lost Pat Stay and even typing that doesn’t feel real.

When we lose someone we love, we must learn not to live without them, but to live with the love and memories they have left behind. No one with a bigger heart than Pat Stay. No matter if it was on the stage, to his peers, his family and the world, he gave love, admiration and positive energy at all times and he will always be celebrated,

Most Well Rounded Battle Rapper To Ever Touch The Stage

Pat Stay is one of the most skilled battle rappers of all time. The definition of an all-arounder. The term “master of none” could never applied to him. Pat was always at the top of his field when it came to angling, humor, and a seemingly never dry well of creativity. He was able to use his charm and wit to diffuse and de-power his opponents in a way only a handful of battlers can do. His overwhelming charisma and magnetizing personality made it easy to discount his skilled lyricism. He was a master of flow patterns and switches, experimenting with new cadences and pockets. He had an incredible talent for build ups, gaining so much momentum throughout his round and having the crowd in the palm of his hands.

By the time he gets to the pay off, without fail he would take the roof off a building. An angling savant, Pat would be able to break you down in the most serious way, assassinating an opponent’s character and the next second have the crowd dying laughing at them. He’s one of the best big stage performers of all time. An elite freestyler who possessed the ability to take an incredible round from his opponent that leaves us feeling like Pat was on the ropes, just to freestyle and take that momentum back. Pat was undeniable. A force of nature in battle rap that it was impossible to not see the greatness in. If someone told me Pat was the most talented battle rapper we’ve ever seen, I wouldn’t think they were being hyperbolic or a prisoner of the moment. He was that special.

From KOTD, URL, RBE, Don’t Flop, UDubb and everywhere in between, Pat’s presence was felt. But maybe most importantly to battle rap history. 

Pat Stay Domino Effect to Battle Rap's Evolution

It all begins with his appearance on the Elements Battle League in Nova Scotia. Pat Stay’s work on Elements league caught the eye of Drect, which was very key in the formation of Grindtime. It’s not hyperbole to say that Pat is one of the most important people to the creation of the modern battle rap format in the transition to freely implementing and encouraging the use of written material.

In 2006-2007. Smack DVD had released it’s final edition between Murda Mook vs Serius Jones. And 2007 the World Rap Championships was also reaching it ending act. The battle rap culture didn’t have any established entities that we would consider leagues during that time.

Drect was watching the Elements league in 2007 and he was enamored by the viral performances by Pat Stay. The way Pat Stay could tower over his opponents, rhyme fluid multi-syllabic flows, break into a moment of humor and still maintain a relentless level of aggression and attack. He was ahead of its time and Drect knew it. Pat Stay was integral to the inspiration of Drect to create a battle rap league. Keep in mind, there weren’t any leagues in America in 2007. Drect got in contact with Pat Stay in regard to his vision and ideas of creating a league that would then become Grindtime.  And atlas, February 2008, Grindtime was born. Drect credits Pat Stay for the motivation to build his vision.

Who would have thought back then that the Elements league would be so intrinsic to the development of battle rap? It probably would sound far-fetched to the people a part of the league back then, but right before their (and our) eyes, Pat Stay was already changing battle rap.

The eye test from watching Pat Stay on The Elements league showed such a tremendous upside to his ceiling, you could see a vast and versatile skill set that Pat possessed in such a small sample size. He makes his KOTD Debut in 2009, on the Toronto Division Volume 7 event. Pat Stay battles Bartone, in a judged battle with $500 on the line. For context, Bartone had a 4-1 record at the time and he had the most wins in the league thus far. Pat Stay came and completely dominated and showed a gap in skill, presence, performance, personality, and rapping ability. Pat Stay came into the league wiping out one of the best guys on the league and was soon to become the focal point of not leading the movement for King Of The Dot, but for his entire country.

King of the Dot had the vision to take battle rap worldwide. Talent from not just their Canadian base, but from all over the globe has come to KOTD and gotten treated with tons of respect and reverence. There are plenty who deserve credit for legitimizing KOTD and their approach to battle rap, but you can’t have the conversation without starting with Pat Stay.

Pat Stay's Career Accolades

Pat Stay is one of the most decorated KOTD battlers in various ways, but a staggering stat is that Pat headlined KOTD’s World Domination event 6 times, 2 times more than names like Dizaster and Arsonal who each have 4. He played a gigantic role in establishing Canadian battle rappers as credible. Pat was the face of that imprint and his battles on those events against the likes of Hollohan and Illmac are some of the most notable in KOTD history. And it wasn’t just World Domination. Whether it was Blackout or the MASSacre series, if Pat was on the card, he was more than likely the biggest battle of the event and you rarely ever left a Pat battle feeling like you didn’t get your money’s worth.

Pat Stay's Run as a KOTD Champion

Pat’s run towards and time as KOTD champ was utterly incredible. Going from a stellar performance vs Arcane to win the Chain, at World Domination 4, in 2013. Once Pat became the Champion, he defended his title by facing Dizaster, Daylyt, Charron and Illmac all in title matches. Pat Stay & Real Deal are tied at most title defenses in league history at 3 total defenses.  (defended against Daylyt, Dizaster & Charron)

Pat’s championship reign is the stuff legends are born from. Facing the cream of the crop and some of the best battlers of all time bringing their A-game, it wouldn’t be enough to beat Pat. The Dizaster battle in particular is a very legitimate best battle of all-time contender. In his last defense, it took maybe a top 3 Illmac performance of all time to beat Pat. That’s the level he was operating at. Being the KOTD champ can restrict what you can do off the league and affect your momentum, waiting for the next defense. But not Pat. With him, each defense felt bigger than the last. The crowds getting hotter, battles getting tenser and even Pat was finding ways to keep improving every time. Pat’s title defenses were must-see. Scratch that, Pat was must see. And in turn, made KOTD feel must-see. And of course, he isn’t the only one to thank and give credit for that, but when Pat says to Charron “I am King of the Dot”, you can’t help but agree with him.

Pat was a god in Canada, receiving thunderous ovations anytime he got to perform at home. But it wasn’t just at home where Pat was beloved. Anywhere KOTD went, Pat felt like a huge star. And that star power translated to Pat’s non KOTD ventures. Whether it was making his way over to UDubb in New Jersey to battle DNA, Sweden to battle on The O-Zone vs Nils M/Skils, going to Leeds to battle Tony D on Don’t Flop. Pat was Pat anywhere he went and people loved him for it.                   

Pat Stay Always Performed With Joy

We’ve all seen the hilarious clip but Pat Stay’s 3rd wall-breaking, extremely self-aware raps in Germany. Rapping about how most of the crowd couldn’t understand him so openly admitting to using his delivery and vocal projection to make it sound like he’s saying something and for lack of a better term, trolling the crowd. It’s brilliant and one of the funniest things in battle rap history, but there’s beauty in it. This audience knows that they can’t understand Pat. 

They knew that going into the event, but they still wanted to see him anyway because he was that big of a deal and that much of a star. And knowing that they got to see Pat, even without knowing everything he was saying, was enough of a show for them. That time mastering stages all across the world, stealing the show at RBE events in 2018 with his performances vs Aye Verb and Danny Myers (stealing the show with Danny on a card with Murda Mook’s return, might I add), made the fans clamor, even more, to see Pat on URL.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the divide that existed between portions of the URL and KOTD fanbases. There are people of course who were general fans of battle rap and watched and appreciated both leagues. But nonetheless, a divide did exist. KOTD was perceived as a “white” league by some people and it wasn’t rare to hear KOTD fans (or even battlers) say URL rappers only talked about guns. A line existed, a distinction between two different brands of battle rap and who it was marketed towards. The biggest stars in battle rap were able to blend both worlds seamlessly, knowing how to tailor and cater their material to the fanbase they’re in front of. That’s what makes an all-time great. The thing about Pat is he really didn’t have to change much in his transition to URL. He didn’t become overly reliant on tropes he thought would gain him favor, he didn’t change his rapping style or sense of humor. He did what brought him to the dance. He did what made him Pat Stay.

Pat made the fans adjust to him, not the other way around. Pat’s first two URL battles EVER are on Summer Madness 8 and NOME 9 where consensus is he won both against Tay Roc and Shotgun Suge. Let that sink in. His debut battle on the league is against arguably the greatest battler in URL history. There’s so many legends from the “other side” of battle rap who would never come close to getting the red carpet rolled out for them like that. It’s a testament to the kind of star Pat was and the rarified air that he was in. If Pat Stay wants to battle on your league, it’s a no brainer that you do what you can to make that happen. Pat was worth every cent.

Pat had that special quality where you could want to see him battle literally anyone. He didn’t have a specific lane or niche he belonged to. He wasn’t confined to a certain style. He was limitless. And despite all of the Pat stay we got to see over his decade plus of battle rapping, it feels like it wasn’t enough. That no matter how much time passed, no matter who the new rising stars were, there was always a place for more Pat Stay.

Pat Stay Wasn't Afraid To Be Himself

Pat was a boundary pusher in every sense of the term. He pushed boundaries on what we found funny in rap battles. For better or for worse, Pat pushed boundaries of disrespect at points, but clearly matured and learned from that and stepped away from that approach to battle rap. He pushed boundaries in vulnerability. He pushed creative boundaries. He played an irreplaceable role in popularizing compliment rap battles in North America. Straight up, without Pat Stay, something like what his partner in crime Rone does with The Nicest probably wouldn’t exist. His reach and influence is all over battle rap, from the leagues he’s partially responsible for to influencing battlers who looked up to Pat for inspiration and creativity. Nu Jerzey Twork and Drugz’ 3rd rounds for each other and Jey The Nitewing’s 3rd round vs Th3 Saga are just recent examples of some of the amazing talent today, wanting to tap in to something Pat Stay-esque.

For as great and legendary as a battler Pat is, what is the most striking thing about this tragedy is the genuine outpouring of love from fans and battlers alike. By all accounts, Pat was a joy to be around. A dude who lit up whatever room he was in. And maybe that’s not a shock, he lit up the stages he was on as well, but when the lights were off, he was the same personable guy. Pat didn’t have to big up his battle rap peers the way he did. But he did, constantly. Always made sure to give flowers to those who came before him, came up with him, and emerged after. His love for battle rap was infectious, but he loved his family even more. Being so devoted to being there for his family is why even though we so badly wanted to see Pat during the height of the pandemic, he couldn’t bring himself to do it with how much time it would mean away from his family. And as much as we would’ve loved to see more Pat during that time, his family needed him more, and he needed them too.

This could be the part of the piece where the writing gets more sad and sobering, and gets in the weeds about death and how real it is for all of us and the very real grief so many of us are feeling. But no, Pat deserves to be celebrated and revered. A legend gone too soon with so much more to give to his creative endeavors and a family to raise, but a man who spent most of his adult life wanting to entertain us. To make us laugh, cry, make faces, raise eyebrows, or put us in awe, he did it all. And changed battle rap in the process. No one could have imagined on Philadelphia and Harlem street corners where our pillars of battle rap were first starting, that a dude from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia in Canada, would leave such an indelible mark on battle rap as this thing evolved into a multi-million dollar business. But it happened, and it happened for the better. There will never be another Pat Stay and through the memories he gave all of us on stage and off the one who has those experiences, he’ll live forever.

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