Born and raised on the Detroit's east side, Ronnie Watts knew he wanted to be a rapper after hearing Kurtis Blow's "Christmas Rappin'." In 1984 Watts saw Whodini perform, prompting him to begin writing his own rhymes, and by the end of his senior year of high school, he, going under the name Phat Kat (given to him by a local mechanic, though he also refers to himself as "Ronnie Cash"), had produced his first song. In 1994 he met Jay Dee in a local hip-hop joint; the two quickly became friends, and the following year, after a chance encounter in a Detroit record store with New York rap duo Gang Starr, who got him in touch with Pay Day Records, Phat Kat and Jay Dee, going as 1st Down, were able to sign a deal with the label. Shortly after the release of the group's first single, "A Day wit the Homiez," in 1994, the label folded, and 1st Down broke up soon after.
Phat Kat continued to work with his former bandmate, however, appearing on Slum Village albums (he was often referred to as "the fifth member") and joining SV on the 1998 A Tribe Called Quest farewell tour. In 2000, stocked with new songs, Phat Kat met Detroit DJ/producer House Shoes, who helped him put together a 12", "Dedication to the Suckers." Impressed by what they heard, Virgin U.K. signed the rapper, but just before the release of what would have been his debut full-length, the label's staff was fired, and Phat Kat was dropped (though he did manage to get ahold of his masters). Finally, after joining Barak Records (founder R.J. Rice, Sr., had been a longtime acquaintance of his), the Undeniable LP, produced by Jay Dee among others, came out in 2004 (a "Detroit Edition" was issued a few months earlier). By the next year, Phat Kat had left Barak for Look Records, and his sophomore effort, Carte Blanche, was released in 2007. ~ Marisa Brown