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Petey Pablo leads North Carolina Music Hall of Fame 2024 class

The rapper Petey Pablo, a native of Greenville known for his hit singles "Raise Up" and "Freek-a-Leek," leads the 2024 class of inductees into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.
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Composite Image by WUNC
The rapper Petey Pablo, a native of Greenville known for his hit singles "Raise Up" and "Freek-a-Leek," leads the 2024 class of inductees into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.

The lyrics "North Carolina, come on and raise up," might as well be the unofficial anthem of the Tar Heel State. And the rapper who wrote and spoke them will soon obtain a bit of immortality.

Petey Pablo, it was announced this week, leads the 2024 class of inductees into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, located in Kannapolis. The Greenville native and four other artists – and the Durham-based Merge Records — will join the already existing 132 other honorees. Qualifications for induction into the hall, located on Dale Earnhardt Blvd., is to have roots in the state of North Carolina and achieve at least 10 years of national prominence.

Born Moses Barrett III, Petey Pablo more than fits the bill.

After spending time in prison for armed robbery, he turned to hip-hop and hooked up with Jive Records. His debut album Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry was produced by Timbaland and debuted at No. 13 on the Billboard Top 200 music chart in November 2001. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America and was then nominated for Best Rap Album at the Grammys. It contained the hit single, "Raise Up," which peaked at No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The iconic song can easily be heard at sporting events across North Carolina these days, particularly at UNC-Chapel Hill football games and after the Carolina Hurricanes score a goal. The video for the song was filmed in Raleigh, and it's likely the only hip-hop song that namechecks North Carolina towns like Tarboro, Goldsboro, Halifax, and Statesville.

Petey Pablo’s second album, 2004’s Still Writing in My Diary: 2nd Entry, was also certified gold and featured the hit single "Freek-a-Leek," which peaked No. 7 on the Billboard charts. The rapper spent time in prison again after pleading guilty in 2011 to possession of a stolen firearm.

In 2016, he released a single called "Carolina Colors" that has been used as a hype-up anthem for the Carolina Panthers. Petey Pablo has also acted a bit, appearing in shows such as The Shield and Empire.

Petey Pablo is widely regarded as a pioneer in North Carolina hip-hop, an icon in the southern rap scene, and one of the original voices of crunk music. On Instagram, he wrote of his induction into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, "Words can't really express the true feeling and gratitude for such an honorable recognition."

An image of the band Superchunk
Lissa Gotwals
Submitted Image
File photo of the band Superchunk

Other inductees include the late music executive Clarence Avant, the late musician and teacher Mary Cardwell Dawson, the late country singer and songwriter Tommy Faile, and Grammy-award-winning bluegrass artist and fiddler Bobby Hicks.

Also being honored is Merge Records, which was founded in 1989 in Durham by Mac McCaughan and Laura Balance — who are also members of the band Superchunk. The influential independent record label has produced and released years of music, including from Arcade Fire, Caribou, She & Him, and Hiss Golden Messenger.

A ceremony to honor the inductees will be held on Oct. 17.

Mitchell Northam is a Digital Producer for WUNC. His past work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SB Nation, the Orlando Sentinel and the Associated Press. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and is also a voter in the AP Top 25 poll for women's college basketball.
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