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Lockedown: Jacksonville hip-hop staple poised to set the place ablaze once airborne in his ‘Rocketship

Paten Locke drops his debut full-length bomb

OK, “Gilligan’s Island.” If you’ve ever caught the 1960s show on TV Land or wherever, you’ve caught the gist: It started out as a three-hour tour, but the slew of folks washed ashore on a mystery island. Sounds tragic, right?

No way.

The island folks all find ways to complement one another, each helping make life work in a super fun way through individual fortes.

Jacksonville has become Paten Locke’s island, so it seems. Once known in hip-hope groups of the past as Therapy, The Smile Rays (who even toured worldwide) and ASAMOV, Locke came to the 904 originally with his parents for a temporary time, but has found Jacksonville provides everything he needs.

“My favorite people in the music scene live in Jacksonville, for sure,” Locke said.

His home recording studio in Arlington resides in a medium-sized room with neatly vacuumed carpet, LPs ranging from Iron Butterfly to Con Funk Shun to Al Green on display and hip-hop stickers galore, camoflaguing the tool bench set-up all of his equipment living atop.

He compared Jacksonville to a Venus fly trap, but made the idea sound more cozy than suffocating.

Boston-born Locke prepares to drop his first solo album “Super Ramen Rocketship” Oct. 20 on Tres Records.

Locke’s musical roots

Batsauce, Locke’s Smile Rays counterpart, best friend and killer producer in his own right, helped record his debut full-length. A self-proclaimed egomaniac, Locke banged out both all the rhymes and all the beats on the album … it doesn’t get more P. Locke than this, baby.

Dabbling in skateboarding (“I was the original black skateboarder.”) and metal during early high school days in Boston, Locke had an early aptitude for art, including forays into the graffiti world.

“From the jump, [I was interested in] art always,” Locke said. “I thought music was tangible. I’d grown up drawing but then that rap thing took over.”

He mentioned a specific incident of intercepting a Nucleus tape and falling in hopeless love with it, shouting the epiphany, “Aw man! Hip-hop’s the shit!”

Locke really dove into the hip-hop jive more so once relocating to Chicago when his dad had a job transfer. He originally worked as more of a disc jockey and beat composer when his childhood friend Akrobatik had a DJ pull out of a tour at the last minute, and Ak asked him to stand in. From there, he foraged friendships with emcees and DJs all over, including Brooklyn-based Edan and Bostonian Mr. Lif, eventually getting himself signed as a solo artist on an L.A. label. Despite constant bombardments of invitations to more progressive, hip-hop-friendly cities, Locke always politely declines.

Once settled in Jacksonville, he made pals with other musicians jolted in hip-hop, instantly forming a tight bond. Among the “instant best friends” Locke harbors the utmost respect for ASAMOV contemporary, rapper Willie Evans Jr.

Locke really believes in his partner Evans, who should receive notarity from the industry as a widely-recognized, creative artist, he said.

Also among his favorite Jacksonville people are DJ, promoter and Shantytown-owner Ian Ranne and DJ-MC Tough Junkie. I’ll refrain from linking cats to “Gilligan” characters (although Locke lives up to a definitely much, much smarter version of Ginger, since he has come closest to widely recognized success … and OK, maybe Professor somewhat resembles Ranne), but together all of the artists make things happen in our very own “island” of Jacksonville.

As for Locke’s solo effort? It’s no coconut phone, but it does make you want to boogie.

The ‘Rocketship’ sets sail

Locke book-ends “Rocketship,” whose name originates from copious amounts of Ramen-consumed inspiration whilst recording in Berlin, with greatness.

“Soup for One,” the first track, ignites a party fervor, trumpet samples surging into Locke’s “Now we elevated/ This philosophy is extra raw as poppy seeds … Man I got my shit together now/ Word to harmony,” even shouting out to an inspiration, MF Doom and his elusive identity, “Tell the whole world my name/ No face mask.”

“Breakthru” and “Ventellation” have fun beats, for sure. And “Ash On Em” definitely stars as an energizing agent to toss into typically mundane task like, say, cleaning your apartment to, not to mention its nicely, poetic and YES, thinly veiled tendencies to filling your being with basil vapors and losing track of gravity.

“Auto Reverse” has a really great retrophilic vibe (“After that rotating black laquer/ After the eight-track tapes disaster/ Cassette tapes capture,”) that fully communicates the cat’s passion for quality, old school media format (and his stacks and stacks and stacks [x 24] of LPs filling rooms in his home) but it gets a little repetitive, despite its ardent message.

The closing track, an ode to Locke’s 9-year-old daughter, Asha (“She’s been a recurring theme for me,”), “After You” listens as a wholehearted package. “Hey there, Princess Asha Bear/ The olive girl with the softest hair,” goes on to detail how nothing will ever seem “beautiful” to Papa Locke’s eyes after her flawless self came into existence.

Coincidentally, the track nearly suffered the dreadful drop to the cutting room floor but has now experienced some airplay on BBC Radio.

Locke plans to perform in support of “Rocketship” Oct. 16 at Club TSI with the AB’s (formerly ASAMOV), Dillion Maurer and others.

It looks like no rescue ship will arrive on Duval’s horizon for Locke, but at the moment, well, that seems just fine.

“I don’t really want to be where there’s a million other people doing what I’m doing everyday,” Locke said. “I guess I like it here. My friends are here.”

Check The Spinnaker’s Twitter updates for further info on Locke’s upcoming show.

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