V Exclusive: Patra on Her Absence, New Music, & Female Sexuality in Reggae


/ June 23, 2012

Time has aged Patra like a fine wine. The Queen of the Pack shocked headlines last summer after an appearance at an Essence Magazine party, and from then on has been hard at work prepping her comeback with a new team, a new album, and a fresh outlook.

Thanking MTV’s Sway amongst others, for the boost in the right direction after her absence, the reggae goddess dropped a new single this month, entitled, “Come Ova” featuring Delus, and is expected to release the video as well as her fifth studio album, Patra: The Continuation soon after. Promising to deliver nothing but the sexiness, Patra hopes her fans will feel like she never left.

In an exclusive interview with VIBE, Patra discussed her absence, new music, her opinion of Tupac at Coachella, and describes how she manages to preserve the sexy.

VIBE: You shocked headlines last summer after a photo popped up of you partying in New York. So, I think the first question on everyone’s mind is where have you been?
PATRA: Yeah, what happened was I was taking a break, to get my career on track. It’s very simple. I just wanted to be in control, finish my education, and just to be happy, that’s basically it. There’s nothing really dramatic to discuss. I just needed to take that break to get myself and things together in order to be in control of my own business. To me that is the most refreshing thing I was able to accomplish from my absence from the scene is to be in control of my stuff.

You’re prepping to release new music under a new partnership with LGN Entertainment. How’d that come about?
When I got to New York, I’m there getting everything together musically. I’m doing radio shows and all that. Rich Nice and Sway from MTV were the guys that were helping me while I was in New York. However, pertaining to the deal and my ability to partnerships with these guys came through Don Harper. Don Harper is someone that I’ve known, and it’s funny because he had reached out in different ways, not about the business, but just to see when I was coming back out because he had heard all these stuff going on and then I let him know that I would love him on board. I had other stuff on the table, but what they had to offer me was the best from all the other stuff that was one the table because it allowed me to retain control and to make sure everything has the right attention that it needs with all of the craziness that’s going on.

You’re dropping a new single in June, “Come Ova”, can we expect an album to follow through soon after?
Oh most definitely! I can even give you the name of the album now. Last week, I could not. I decided to keep it simple and name it Patra: The Continuation. Because actually, I didn’t go anywhere, I was just focusing on getting stuff straightened out and I just want to continue where I left off and try to be even better. And of course the single that’s coming out isn’t just me on the single. It’s me and Delus. He also collaborated with me. I also want to give much respect to the producer, Damian Gayle, he’s a good friend of mine, he’s the one who produced this and he’s responsible to make sure this whole world can have that dancehall flavor as well as a crossover appeal to it. This record will be the record for the summer. Trust me. We’re shooting the video in a couple of days. It’s going to be the sexiest video for the summer!

Who else are you planning to work with on your album?
Since, it’s been so long, I’m just trying to make everything right. I’m not trying to look for collaboration at this moment, pertaining to who’s on the album. Right now, for me, it’s just a moment of connecting with my fans and getting back out there. My message to share as a person and a woman is to share all of my experiences and the essence of being back. I have to just focus on me at this point.

As self proclaimed, ‘Queen of the Pack’, can we expect the same type of raw style from you or have you switched things up?
All I can say is it’s a brand new work. It even turn-up more than Queen of the Pack was. But, I always give respect all the time to Queen of the Pack, but there’s nothing that compares to Queen of the Pack than to what I’m doing now. I’ve grown lyrically, but most importantly as a woman, free to express. So, just doing that with the art, it just come around, and not to mention just working with the best producers. It’s always going to be about sex with me, nothing political. I’m just focusing on being sexy all the time. That’s all I’m doing right now. Just being sexy, chopping up the charts and everything. I just want to feel good! I love what I do, and I’m excited to be back. And of course, the original dance queen come back!

How are you able to distinguish between embracing your sexuality as a woman than in a way that is intended to sell your music?
It’s a natural thing. I’m a Jamaican woman from the island. That’s the lifestyle for us. We intertwine both. Caribbean people, we work hard, we play hard. So, to intertwine both for me is fun! I don’t want my job to become a job. I want my job to be something that I appreciate and love. So, I can say I’m going to my job for several hours then come home and feel good. I want to go on stage for an hour, an hour and a half, mash it up and leave and make people feel good. I’m that type of person. I’m very sensual, yet private, and I express it through my music. I think artists have their standard, and I think love, respect, and all these things are important. It’s not something I get up and do on the fly, it’s a natural thing.

How do you feel about the direction reggae music has been going in lately? Is it something you’re proud of?
I’m very proud of what’s going on in the dancehall and reggae atmosphere. Reggae music is one of the most powerful forms of music whether you get it or not. Reggae music is the type of music in the world that everyone emulates when they’re trying to do something. It’s because of the soul and the depth. Dancehall music right now, is the thing that keeps everyone jiggling and going because it’s wild and crazy. The artists are the ones who are fueling everybody. It’s a combination of both. I could have not have been more excited and delighted. I remember when I came out, not a lot of reggae artists were gaining that international appeal. But, now that the game has changed from all of these big monopolies, everyone has some form of the reggae/dancehall industry. If I don’t hear at least one reggae or dancehall record a day, my day doesn’t start. So, I’m proud of it.

What do you feel you can bring to table musically in this day in age?
When you have old school artists like me, you can evolve and change. I haven’t evolved, but I’ve evolved in terms of my company, but I’m not changing anything. I haven’t seen a change really. I think everybody is doing what they’re doing. I’m just blessed to be doing what I’m doing and taking reggae music to a whole other level. There’s nothing for me to compare myself to. There’s nobody doing what I’m doing right now as a woman from the reggae Jamaican side. There’s nothing for me to think about because I’m a Jamaican artist. I’m always doing crossover music in reggae, but that’s my culture. There’s nothing for me to think about than to just keep my music to the world. I’m not trying to catch up what’s going on, because most my albums are built from scratch. I think this is my best work ever. My vocal has grown and my attitude has changed as far as what I think of people.

Making that ‘crossover music’ allowed you to connect with the U.S. market.
I really have to give respect to the American people. My Jamaican people have really supported me, but when I went to America, it was like—I don’t want to say it was easy and simple, because it wasn’t. I have to give respect to Shabba Ranks because as you know, he was the one who I was touring with at the time. But, then I went Gold, so I had to go and do my own thing. But, the American people, when it comes to the Billboard charts, it was remarkable, MTV, BET, everybody.

You were pretty close to Tupac when you made your U.S. debut. What did you think about his hologram appearance at Coachella earlier this spring?
It’s so funny that you ask me that, because I feel when a person passes, you should just let them be. These are personal feelings because of how Tupac treated me and respected me as a person the few times we hung out, then showed up on my video set. I feel like when he passed, he needs to pass and rest. This is just a personal belief. Same with Biggie Smalls and stuff like that. It could work both ways. I was shocked when people started to send me the link to my personal email. That’s when everything started coming back. When I decided to take a break, two of my friends just died, Tupac and Biggie. I was the one who gave Biggie, the last Source Award interview at Madison Square Garden. So, there are so many things. It’s just weird and for me, it was just private. I wonder when I pass, will people do the same thing to me. That’s weird. That’s just my personal opinion about it.

What do you want your fans to gain from your return back to music?
They will gain the ability to love themselves and to just relax. That’s basically it. Not only that, but to also to work hard if you’re a woman to achieve your goals. You don’t need to let the advice of one to see what your true values are. It’s the simple things that you’ve done as an individual that make you who you are. Sometimes we just like to get our hair and nails done to get sexy, even if we’re not going there. It’s the simplest thing, as a woman, that we do to make us feel that word, how to love yourself, be confident, how to express yourself, physically, emotional, mentally. This album is driven on that, and that’s why it’s called the continuation; and of course, the fellas love it for a different reason. But, for the ladies, they’ll be able to understand it and as a result, become more vocal.