Jax Musician Jay Myztroh Remembers His Friend and Collaborator, the late Paten Locke

Stono Echo press photograph
The late Paten Locke (left) and Jay Myztroh (right) formed Stono Echo | Credit: Photo by Willie Evans Jr.; Courtesy of Jay Myztroh

Introduction by Mr. Al Pete

Music has a magical way of forging relationships. They say that the word is bond. Well, the music that matches the word makes this grip a steadfast one. 

In particular, hip hop is known for having a dynamic way of bragging about who’s the best and who does it cooler. The cool aspect gets as much respect and shine as the boldness does. Respectfully, the late Jacksonville emcee and producer Paten Locke comes from that bold school. And he repped it well. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Jay Myztroh comes from the cool. 

It was two rights existing – people. And the funk that came from the duo’s joint venture will remain; bold and cool. 

Myztroh, one of the coolest brothers on the planet, serves as a composer of many collections. His latest, Cosmic Link, is a transatlantic collaboration with Bristol, UK producer Ben Dubuisson. His live act, Jay Myztroh and Friends, is preparing for a set at Winterland V and in the Spring he will join a North American tour as a solo act. 

Myztroh was one-half of Stono Echo. Paten Locke was the other half. 

Stono Echo performing
Stono Echo performing | Credit: Photo by Obscura Lux; Courtesy of Jay Myztroh

On February 18th, the second annual James Weldon Johnson Hip Hop Festival shines a respectful light on the influence and legacy of Locke, who died in 2019. As Busta Rhymes said in his opening speech on A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario (remix)”: The time is correct to spread love and acknowledge greatness while everyone is still in physical form, while giving love to the ones that are in spiritual essence. 

We asked Myztroh to share some kind words about his friend and musical comrade, Paten Locke.–Mr. Al Pete

Words below by Jay Myztroh:

My relationship with Paten developed as collaborative partners. After seeing my old band, The Elevated Hip-Hop Experience, he invited me and my keyboard to his home to build.

That first meeting culminated in a funky beat. The whole experience was fun and we worked well together. 

After seven years of bonding and collaborating, including two of our beats making it on Dillon and Paten’s Food Chain LP (Full Plate), I finally shared with Paten that I sing better than I play the piano. He offered me three beats and, by the weekend, I had written one song that will be featured on our second album along with most of “Outer Limits” which ended our debut album Black Diamonds. Within the year, we went on to formally form the group Stono Echo (which, like all his other bands, he prided himself in naming).

I learned so much from Paten as a collaborator but mostly as a friend who he felt comfortable creating around. I got better by watching him and having the freedom to look over his shoulder and ask questions. He was always introducing me to rare records and shared music history as an open book. I always left his home inspired. 

Some of my favorite moments were spent sharing my beats with him. I’d play seven, then he’d play twenty. He was a mentor, teacher and brother to me. He would call his studio the dojo and I am proud to be one of many under his lineage. I continue to create with his imprint woven into my musical DNA. 

Stono Echo press photograph 2
Credit: Photo by Willie Evans Jr.; Courtesy of Jay Myztroh

Paten worked with so many artists and, like any great producer, was able to pull their best work out of them. I heard so many songs that he made working with people I consider Jacksonville legends as well as artists who were newer to the scene. He is one of the few OGs that was willing to open the door to the next generation of the Jax hip-hop scene. If he thought you had something positive going he’d give you an honest listen and give equally honest feedback pushing everyone to be better. 

OG Thursdays and Slap Society was an intentional effort to make sure there was a space carved out for the emcees and producers to gather. Whether it was on the turntables, in a cypher on the mic, on a recording or on stage, Paten Locke led with the highest demonstration of excellence. If you experienced Paten’s artistry, you remember him and go forward knowing the bar is higher than you imagined.

“I continue to create with his imprint woven into my musical DNA.”

As Paten’s health declined, my visits to his home were graced by the formal meeting of his parents and our relationship continues to grow. I love the Locke Family dearly and send blessings to Ms. Cheryl, Mr. Ron, his sister Inala and his darling daughter (and star in her own right) Asha (of the band GILT). Getting to know them helps to inform why Paten was such a special human being.

The James Weldon Johnson Park Hip-Hop Festival is held Saturday, February 18, 2023 from noon-5p.m. at James Weldon Johnson Park. The VIP Event, Docs and Beats is held at the Jessie Ball duPont nonprofit Center on Friday, February 17, 2023. Both are free to attend. RSVP is required for the VIP event. More information. UPDATE: The VIP Event is currently sold out.

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