With the passing of longtime Duval hip-hop visionary Paten Locke, the local and global music community lost a mercurial artist and formidable creative force. After a three-month battle with stage 4 small cell cancer, Locke passed away peacefully at his Arlington home. Ever ambiguous about his actual age, we will honor this element of Locke’s idiosyncratic character and simply (and appropriately) date him as timeless.
Even for a community that boasts an innately DIY and progressive hip hop scene, Paten was prolific and driven at a seemingly supernatural level. As a producer, DJ and MC both solo and as a collaborator, his projects include: Asamov, Dumbtron DJ Therapy, Boris Ortiz, The Perceptionists, The Smile Rays, Steam Mechanics, and Stono Echo. He co-owned a record label, Full Plate, with Dillon Maurer. Paten’s 2009 solo album Super Ramen Rocketship, both lyrically and sonically, raised the bar for potent and powerful Duval hip hop.
Paten Locke is survived by fiancée Shannon Coleman, daughter Asha, his sister Inala, parents, Ron and Cheryl Locke, and his decades-long legacy of singular music and circle of friends, collaborators, and fans who were willingly pulled into the orbit of Planet Locke.
Void Magazine asked some of Paten’s personal and creative allies to offer their remembrances. They were gracious enough to offer up personal stories of the man and the music. What follows are their memorials, verbatim.
A celebration of Paten Locke’s life and music is held from 5-10 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29 at CoRK Arts District, 2689 Rosselle St. The dress code is Polo’d down. An after party is held from 10:30 p.m.-2 a.m. at Rain Dogs, 1045 Park St.
“Well, I’ve certainly not heard that argument before,” Paten said to me the first time we hung out at his house listening to music. I was extolling the virtues of Prime Minister Pete Nice of 3rd Bass and as I hazily (did I mention the joint we smoked prior? Probably not…) proclaimed the Prime Minister being ahead of his time. Paten calmly retorted with the above but wore his judgment square on his face. He wouldn’t be so cordial in future discussions over MC’s, quick to call bullshit on some statement or another, but I stood my ground with him and shook my head at him. I wasn’t trying to impress him, and I think he liked that. Maybe. Perhaps.
I met Paten Locke a mere two years before his passing. In fact, the hardest part about writing this recollection of our friendship is that I feel sheepish compared to the long-lasting bonds he formed with others in his orbit. It seems that is your down with P, you were down for life. It was that genuine respect for each other that we enjoyed in conversations.
I knew of Paten before I knew Paten. I was a fan of Asamov before I moved to Jacksonville. I was bumping Food Chain (his album with his partner Dillon Vaughan Maurer) before I had bumped into Paten Locke. Yes, I was a fan. But I was far from a fanboy – shit, I was a grown-ass man when I finally got to meet Paten Locke. I had my own thing going on. I was secure in the person I am. See what occurred there? See what’s been happening throughout this brief piece, I’ve been really writing about myself more than about Paten. If a good friend brings out the best, then I liked myself around Paten because I could be my true self around him. I liked hanging out with Paten. Scratch that, I loved hanging out with Paten.
His lab was a smoke-filled back room at his house. Vinyl everywhere. He said he knew where everything was. I believed him. Sitting there, a cigarette constantly burning, Paten played me dozens of beats crafted the night before. The sheer audacity of this guy! Beat after beat, banger after banger, all of them good, most of them outstanding. He’d talk about the history of the samples and the backstory of the artists with encyclopedic accuracy. That motherfucker could talk, a fact I pointed out to him one night unsure of how he’d respond. He smirked and continued talking.
We texted each other MF Doom lyrics. I’d shoot over some good salsa songs and he’d add them to his playlists. He’d share updates about his daughter’s band and their success. I’d try to lock him down for lunch and he’s brush me off.
We were set to hang the day he got notice about his cancer. His back had been hurting him and it all…just happened so quickly. He texted me that we’d hang as soon as he got healthy. I sent him consistent texts of encouragement. He replied until he didn’t any longer.
Paten is a largeness best met with largeness. He’s not unique in that, but certainly rare. I just want to hang and listen to some more beats with him.
Willie Evans Jr
Paten was a long time collaborator that eventually became one of my best friends. Over time the subject of our conversations evolved from being mostly about the philosophy and construction of good songs to being mostly about navigating life (and laughing at our failure to do so gracefully). He was a genius and stereotypically full of the quirks that seem to come along with being such a person.
Touring with him meant you’d probably be arguing while driving through three cities and then ripping the roof off a venue with him in the fourth. This was because his tendency to be a perfectionist would not allow you to do anything less than amazing on stage.
He was the older brother that I never had and the mentor that everyone else was afraid to study under. But they weren’t aware that he loved the artists in the city as much as I do and, in fact, was far more active in developing artists than I’ve ever been.
Because of him, I hope to change that.
The triple threat, Paten Locke. P. Locke. DJ Therapy. Boris Ortiz. Tronny T. The Damnit Man. Double Up P. The General. He was many things to many people. He was our comrade – a comedian – a philosopher – a philanthropist. He was a proud father to his daughter, Asha – his most cherished creation. He was a beloved son to his parents, Ron & Cheryl. He was an adored brother to his only sibling, Inala and a soulmate to his partner & fiancée, Shannon.
To the rest of us, Paten was the absolute gold standard in all things hip hop. From the production/beats to the rhymes & songwriting to the DJing and most importantly the knowledge! He had a photographic memory and a world class record collection. And he made world class records. He was brilliant, a true rap genius in every sense of the word. It is a mighty understatement to say that Paten Locke was a force to be reckoned with. A curmudgeon of sorts but only out of dedication to his craft. He was intimidating! If he saw something in you he would draw it out of you and help you to reach your true potential. That was his gift to you. But you had to earn it. He was the benevolent dictator of Planet Locke and we were all lucky enough to be on it.
Thank you for everything you left for us, P. May we all be worthy of it one day. I will never monkey with the funky. Erudite Eremite. Asamov ‘til the pine box. Full Plate Forever.
Jeremy “Jay Myztroh” McKinnies
Paten Locke is my favorite producer, emcee, DJ and mentor. I went from simply a fan to close friend and collaborator. The best thing about having Paten Locke as a creative partner was being around him. Loving, doing what you love and laughing were of the utmost importance to him and he encouraged everyone around him to follow suit. He’ll always be an inspiration to me.
His work ethic was infectious. I miss our sessions when we’d share our newest creations since the last time we saw each other. He was a prolific creator. I’d be proud of my six to ten beats and then after he’d give me kudos he would play his 30 some odd beats. He never played any duds (or “Dudleys” as he would say). I would often leave his house in the “wee hours” of the morning and want to create something as soon as I got home.
There is nothing like experiencing a premium Paten Locke freestyle. In the studio or on road trips he’d throw on some beats, usually J Dilla or his own, and thus incite a cypher displaying the most exquisite spontaneous rhymes almost daring you to join him. He loved seeing people show courage and jump in but don’t get it twisted, if you were too scared to rhyme, he would just keep raising the bar(s). It was always a treat when an emcee like Arsun Fist! was present. Better rhymes fueled him to keep elevating. Sometimes he’d construct an entire song on the spot including a repeated chorus as one of his rhyme exercises.
He called his house a hip-hop dojo because it was a safe place for skill refinement. He believed everybody is dope and has something to offer. If he sent you back to the drawing board, you left with tools to make it right or a suggestion to find what you’d be great at.
His intellect was expansive and he was as much a philosopher and music historian as he was a great artist. His determination to be a better human informed his artistry and how he lived.
Paten is missed so dearly because he loved so deeply. He made many long lasting connections with people and connected so many of us in the artist community. Remembering the light of his smile and laugh burn my eyes but the pain is worth the warmth it brings my heart. I am honored to say that the trajectory of Jay Myztroh is forever impacted by the gravitational field of Planet Locke.
Mr. Al Pete
Peace everyone reading. I’m here to share my heart thoughts about the great dude, Paten Locke. I want to begin by sending condolences to everyone and power throughout. I’m saddened about the loss of a great individual. This honor given is to share my personal respect and fondness of Paten, which in return, will have a sincere tone of contemplation for when we all go forward.
As the unfortunate news began spreading, the Facebook memorials appeared from various friends and colleagues. The post from Keith Marks, of Avant Arts, was relatable as it gets. “He was a cultural ambassador and an elder statesman in the arts scene of our city. The music!!! The knowledge!!!!! The wisdom!!!! The heart and sincerity!!!” stated Marks.
To expound on the titles mentioned by Marks, I’ve always referenced family structures and the ranks, or roles, when it comes to certain cultures and how these conventions are governed. With the Hip Hop culture, overall and local, I’ve walked in that manner when defining the predecessors and the OGs. In 2000, while attending a Sunday event at the former Voodoo ‘building’ in Downtown Jacksonville, Florida, I was introduced to the head of missions for Duval Hip Hop: Molecule; now known as Mal Jones, Sean Tibbetts; also known as Kool-Lade, DJ Shotgun, and DJ Therapy; also known as Paten Locke. It fascinated me that Paten would go from DJing to emceeing in less than a second. To add on, he perfected each role respectfully. Even his transitions, from rocking the turntables to owning the microphone, was on a superhero tip! I share this memory with my friend P’Kos, but the realization that Paten was ‘that dude’ was a thought that stayed with me that initial evening, and a moment I internalized.
After that moment, I began meeting more of the managers and officers of Hip Hop. The ranks, to me, were being established and my position was being defined as well. I came across the powers of Fly the Cool Guy, Swordz, Tough Junkie and Mas Appeal (aka Simple Complexity), Rebel Raw, Raw from No Luv, and many more. These emcees were trailing that Hip Hop path that I was new too. Some of the emcees I would respectfully put in my group rankings are Jay Kai, Alias; now known as Milton Branson, The IGive, Francis, Steadie Roc and Jay Myztroh.
Two of the most memorable meetings was when I met Jay Myztroh, a fellow musical brethren that consists of emceeing, production, etc., and we became good friends, inside and outside of Hip Hop. I remember the exact day we drove to the record store in the Town and Country Plaza to purchase Asamov’s And Now… CD. We listened with the intent that the music would order our artistry steps. I also remember when there was a picture taken, titled “A Great Day in Duval,” and we told each other that we wouldn’t half step with our music developments due to Asamov trailing the path. If you look at the picture, Myztroh is standing next to Paten. Who would have thought that they would form the new funkadelic group Stono Echo, releasing their CD Black Diamonds in 2017.
As the Hip Hop scene grew, everyone spoke highly of Paten and wanted his blessings with their endeavors. I don’t care how tough or cool you were, EVERYONE wanted Paten’s approval. Rightfully so, he was the perfect example of living and being the (Hip Hop) culture. He stood and delivered on collaboration albums to his solo projects. I saw him be a heavy influence and a mentor to other musicians around town. I saw him come in many rooms full of emcees, producers, DJs and musicians and the room would completely stop…because the King was in the building. The people that he worked with outside of the Duval spectrum honored him as an ambassador. When you mention the elites inside of Duval, his name is mentioned. Here’s my example: James Weldon Johnson, Nat Glover, Alvin Brown and Paten Locke. He effortlessly demonstrated the characteristics of a statesman and a leader. As with any high rank officiant, the senseless side of the public would make mention of the negative traits of that particular person. That’s to be expected, but in an overall view, EVERYONE respected Paten as the leader of our school.
I finally got to build with him around 2013, when making my Fish in the Forest album. At that time, I felt like I was at a status to be able to talk to the OGs I respected…and mostly…work with them music wise. Listen, I was seeking approval just as much as everyone else. I ended up with some production from Willie Evans Jr., but didn’t get a chance to lock down a P. Locke beat due to scheduling. That goal came true in 2016. I had the honor to go to his home. The invitation was there for some years, but then, I was busy with my music moves. His home is a music sanctuary. It’s full of history, power and knowledge. It’s a healthy amount of love in there too. Seeing his interactions with his fiancé´ and how he speaks thoroughly on music showed the light side of P. Side note: Paten was known to give people his full and honest opinion…on anything and anyone…so experiencing that side of one of my heroes was pleasant.
We spoke on my music, the state of Duval music, where its going, how to preserve it and other topics in relation. I was nervous as all out, but I got the approval stamp that I dreamed for. He also shared that I shouldn’t seek out someone else’s approval for doing what I believe in, love truly and what was simply in my heart. We’ve had plenty of conversations about validation since then, but to be honest, its difficult to not want approval from people that matter to you. I’m working on that daily, but I owe these efforts to Paten. He did whatever the hell he wanted to do, on his time and merits, which was very admirable, but I feel that he saw how much people adored him and became a more compassionate person, which ultimately put him in the godfather status. I understand that there is a vast amount of people that are coming up under me and they need that same compassion and approval I was seeking from Paten. Seeing him play this role inspires me to continue tradition, and to raise more questions to my Hip Hop family about how we will secure the likes of triumph people in this particular culture. Paten did it, why can’t we?
My last music interaction with Paten was when I opened up for Beanie Siegel. We showed each other love, like always, and we commenced with our duties. Every time he would be in the same building as me and I’m on the emcee tip, I would secretly look for validation *laughs*…and he shared it when I finished performing. We spoke during and after the show, not knowing that this would be the final time. Experiencing someone passing away that you highly respect is never an easy transition, but the motions of this felt different. During this grieving process, the thought of implementing his influence and his passion, as well as his governing traits with Duval Hip Hop, has been a constant play in my head.
Its evident that there will be no one like Paten Locke, but it’s likely that someone, or a body of influencers, can fulfill the ambassador roles that he expedited. I’m not expecting this to occur tomorrow or next year. These gestures take time…and understanding, hence my family structure reference. If we all could push his stories, his influence and his dynamism within the ranks of Duval Hip Hop, we can fully have a sense of ownership and respectfully be the statesmen and stateswomen of the greater purpose: to be equal and have unity in our culture. P walked these, and other, traits daily. Let’s continue that…in his sake.
Power to Paten Locke and more power to his family, his fiancé, and his friends and to the communities affected by the unfortunate. #PLANETLOCKE forever.
Batsauce and Lady Daisey
Shortly after we formed Heavenly Noise, we started playing in local clubs. Invariably, Paten (then known as Therapy) would be spinning in the back room. When we saw each other, we’d chat about music and life. Bat’s known Paten since the mid-Nineties, the Big Band Theory days. One night, after finding out I made beats all the time, he asked me over to his house. He would critique my beats, eloquently pointing what he thought worked —and what didn’t. After helping me hone my craft, Paten suggested we all form a group. He said we should call it The Smile Rays. In a few months we had seven new songs. We started passing out a few CDs. The response was immediate. So, of course, what did we do? We left the country to go teach in China for six months.
We were newlyweds and wanted to see the world. But we promised to return and finish what we started. So, we came back to Jax and recorded 20 more songs. While doing so, we started getting interest from labels in the States, Germany, and Japan. The Smile Rays were going global! Next, we decided to move to Berlin, Germany. Not to get away as much as have a home base for The Smile Rays European tour. We liked it so much, we stayed and began work on Lady Daisey’s solo project. Paten would return to stay with us as he recorded his solo record (Super Ramen Rocketship) in Berlin with Bat. He slept in our make-shift vocal booth in our kitchen for three months. Paten is the embodiment of music. And he was funny, witty, sharp. He knew more about music than anyone I met — not just hip hop, nearly all genres. You felt cooler just being around him. He taught us not just the art of making albums but also the focus and intention required. He is our brother, our bandmate, and teacher. His generosity and friendship changed our lives. We owe so much to Paten! Most importantly, he is a true friend that will continue to inspire us. Nothing but smiles from the Smile Rays!