Friends remember 'gentle giant' Pat Stay, acclaimed battle rapper
'He was right on the verge of breaking through, he's loved and he'll always be remembered,' says friend
Friends of acclaimed Dartmouth, N.S., battle rapper Pat Stay are remembering him for his quick wit and kind and humble nature.
Stay was killed in Halifax early Sunday morning, a victim of a stabbing police have deemed a homicide. He was 36 and internationally renowned for his skills behind the microphone.
"He was right on the verge of breaking through," said Behnny Mennier, a close friend of Stay who knew him since their days at Northbrook Elementary School in Dartmouth. "He's loved and he'll always be remembered."
Mennier described Stay as a "gentle giant" who would go above and beyond to make others feel better.
"He always had time for everybody. He had the kindest words to speak to anybody. If they were upset, he could read their situation and fix it instantly with his drop-of-a-dime humour," he said.
Stay's appreciation for hip hop began at an early age through Stay's older brother, Mennier said.
'Just humble Pat'
"We used to rap when we were kids ... he never got big headed, he was always just humble Pat," Mennier said.
Mennier said he loves that Stay is getting recognition for his skills.
High-profile hip hop artists like Eminem and Drake and local artists have posted condolences.
Mennier last saw Stay on Saturday night at a wedding reception. When Mennier was getting ready to leave, he and Stay hugged.
$145K raised for family
Joey Hawkins, another childhood friend, started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Stay's partner and two children. As of Tuesday, Hawkins's fundraiser surpassed $145,000.
"I know that Pat didn't deserve what happened to him," Hawkins said.
Hawkins said he'll remember his friend for his kind nature.
"His battle rap persona — that was him in his element. But outside that part of it, he was also a very sweet, generous, caring person," Hawkins said.
Verena Rizg saw those same things in Stay. The spoken word artist and personal friend told CBC's Information Morning she met Stay years ago through friends.
"You have this battle rapper who, on stage, comes across as this very strong, ferocious-type being … but then in person, anyone who knows him would tell you that he's a gentle giant," Rizg said.
"He didn't want to be seen as too much of a softy, but he would always speak about that, even on his social media about how much he cared about people."
Rizg said if people contacted him, he'd always respond. She said Stay had a way of building people up and that she felt comfortable sharing unfinished works with him.
"I would share something with him that I thought was terrible and he'd respond, 'You're a star, like, this is awesome.' He was just very encouraging," said Rizg.
She said one of her favourite memories was after Stay won a rap battle in the U.K.
"I said, 'Pat, don't laugh but I prayed for you.' He was like, 'Why would I laugh at that?' and I was like, 'Well, you probably don't hear that a lot when it comes to rap battles,'" she said.
"But he just said, 'I really appreciate that Verena, thank you, you're special.' When someone else may have laughed at that comment … he was just really caring and respectful of everyone from all different walks of life even if he didn't understand their walks of life."
Tremaine Emmerson, aka Critical aka Critty, was the first person to ever battle Pat Stay in Nova Scotia. After that initial battle, he told CBC's Information Morning the two became friends.
Of that first battle, Emmerson said Pat "was a problem."
"He was the [greatest of all time] right out of the gates, like I didn't even know what I was getting myself into ... he was the man," Emmerson said. "He whooped me clearly, like three rounds to zero. It was crazy how good he was."
What set Stay apart, Emmerson said, was his cleverness.
"He could just do everything and he could just do it good … he was the best at that stuff, when it came to the wittiness and the clever lines, even the comebacks, he was the best."
'He stayed here'
Michael McGuire, a multi-disciplinary artist, educator and rapper in Halifax, first met Stay through rap battling.
He said although Stay became incredibly popular in the hip hop world — even travelling around the world to perform — he never left his hometown and represented Dartmouth every where he went.
"He stayed here and he always made sure that he put on for Nova Scotia, for Dartmouth and for the community here," McGuire told CBC's Information Morning Halifax.
McGuire said Stay's style was very diverse and he would take control of a room when he was rapping.
"He would come at you with incredibly intricate rhymes. Then he would kind of slow it down and do something very grandiose and funny," he said. "He would pause to give the audience a chance to respond, really just controlling not only the battle, but the crowd's response."
Watch a 2012 CBC feature on Pat Stay:
With files from Rose Murphy and the CBC's Information Morning Halifax