Dartmouth rapper featured in Eminem-backed movie
Pat Stay was cast as a skinhead in Bodied, a satire about battle rap
November 16, 2017, 12:10 pm ASTLast Updated: November 16, 2017, 12:10 pm
Bodied, a new film focusing on battle rap culture, is “perfect for everything going on in the world right now,” says rapper Pat Stay.
A satirical film, Bodied tells the story of a white grad student who decides to write his thesis about battle rap because he wants it to be “edgy.” When he joins in with a community of battle rappers, most of whom are people of colour, he finds he has a talent for the art. The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 7.
The movie, produced by Eminem, features Stay, who is a Dartmouth native, as well as others in the battle rap community. Over the past nine years, Stay has been gradually dominating the battle rap scene worldwide.
A rap battle happens when two people direct either pre-written or freestyle raps toward one another in an attempt to make fun of or degrade each other. The battle takes place over three rounds and the winner is decided by the crowd’s reaction.
Stay had never acted before his involvement with Bodied. He says when the producers of the film contacted him about being a skinhead in the movie, he initially said no.
“Then I got a call from a peer of mine, who I consider somewhat of a mentor as well, and he’s like, ‘bro, it’s a huge Hollywood film, no one gives a sh – no one cares, right?’ And then I changed my mind immediately,” Stay says.
His presence on the battle rap scene dates back to 2008, when he participated in the Halifax-born battle rap league, Elements League. Since then, Stay has earned acclaim for his comedic, smooth and highly lyrical style. That has put him in the spotlight with some of the world’s most respected and successful battle rap leagues, such as Toronto’s King of the Dot and Britain’s Don’t Flop.
Making Bodied, Stay found himself at home among other members of battle rap’s elite. He says the filmmakers hired real-life battle rappers like him to act as skinheads in the movie because they needed people who were skilled enough to pull it off.
“I wasn’t just like saying n-words and stuff. I was battle rapping … actually, when I was done my part, (director Joseph Kahn) came up to me and he was like, ‘perfect, man. You were natural.’ Like, what’s that supposed to mean? I’m a good skinhead?” he says with a laugh.
Racial tension has always been a part of hip-hop culture. Beyond being a comedy movie about battle rap, Stay says, the movie serves as a commentary about that tension.
“(The film) was shut down at first, due to the controversy. But then Eminem, you know, he’s obviously got a lot of pull, so it busted through.”
Racial tension in battle rap isn’t something Stay has ever had to worry about personally, despite being a white male in a culture that found its voice in black communities.
“Some people face that, but I don’t,” he says. “I’ll get ‘white boy’ type of shit, but I don’t get judged too much, as if it’s a crutch for me. And that’s mostly because of my size … because I’m from (Dartmouth) … It’s not even something I really think about,”
Looking to the future, Stay is eager for whatever comes his way.
“I’m always doing other things to keep my sword sharp, whether it’s music or spoken word … I’m always doing something. It could be acting. I don’t know. I’m surrounding myself with creative people all the time, and there’s no limit to what I do.”