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Patrice Wilson, also known by his stage name Pato, is a Nigerian singer-and-songwriter most well known for producing a number of tween-pop songs that have gone viral on YouTube, most notably Rebecca Black’s “Friday,” Nicole Westbrook’s “It’s Thanksgiving” and Alison Gold’s “Chinese Food.”
In 2010, Patrice Wilson and record producer Clarence Jey co-founded Ark Music Factory, a muscial production company and record label, in Los Angeles, California. In August, the company’s official website was launched, and by September, their website was offering services to discover an artist and mold them into a performer ready to be signed to a record label. The packages, which ranged from $2,000 – $4,000 in 2011, contained an age-appropriate song penned by Wilson for them to record, a photo shoot, image consulting, a music video and promotion across the web. While the singer is given the rights to the master recording, Ark owns the song’s publishing rights. They uploaded their first music video, Sabrina’s “My Reflection” (shown below), to YouTube on September 4th, 2010.
Throughout late 2010 and early 2011, Ark Music Factory videos were uploaded to the YouTube account trizzy66, which has received more than 19.6 million views and nearly 80,000 subscribers as of October 2013. In August 2011, the secondary channel patomuzic began uploading Ark Music Factory videos. This channel has amassed more than 27.5 million views and 25,000 subscribers within the same time period.
2011: Rebecca Black’s “Friday”
Wilson’s work did not gain much attention until March 2011, when the video for Rebecca Black’s “Friday” went viral."On March 13th, Wilson uploaded a rap remix (shown below, left) of “Friday” calling himself Fat Usher, incorporating some of the jokes that were made about the song after it went viral including using the phrase “Fried Eggs” instead of “Friday.” That month, he uploaded an interview video (shown below) where he stated his goal was to let America know what “good clean music” sounds like. The video was discussed on a number of blogs including Popdust, Vulture, Hipster Runoff and Urlesque. Additionally, separate interviews with Wilson were conducted by Gawker and the Los Angeles Times.
That April, Wilson launched a Facebook fan page for Ark Music Factory, which has gained more than 15,000 likes as of October 2013 and also uploaded his own rap video titled “Say What You Want” (shown below, right), directly addressing people dismissing his work. As of October 2013, both of these videos have been removed from Ark Music Factory-related channels.
In November 2011, journalist and filmmaker Jon Ronson uploaded a documentary to his YouTube channel EscapeAndControl (shown below) about “Friday” and Wilson’s creative process. During the interview, Wilson explained how he sees “viral potential” in people and noted he was inspired by their meeting. He immediately wrote a song for Ronson about his appearance on the Conan O’Brien show scheduled for that night, with the hope that Ronson would play it on air.
2012: Nicole Westbrook’s “Thanksgiving”
On November 7th, 2012, Wilson uploaded Nicole Westbrook’s “It’s Thanksgiving” (shown below) to his YouTube channel. Within eight days, the video had been viewed more than 7.7 million times, with many critics comparing it to “Friday.” Wilson was again criticized for his work, as Gizmodo jokingly accused him of trying “to destroy [the] internet.” A CBS New York blogger called him “a hack,” and hoped parents of the young girls in his videos were in on the joke. On November 16th, Wilson was interviewed for the CNN blog Apparently This Matters, who also noted that his music video packages now cost between $5,400 and $7,000 dollars.
2013: Alison Gold’s “Chinese Food”
On January 1st, 2013, Wilson debuted a video entitled “Skip Rope” (shown below, left) by a rap duo called Tweenchronic featuring two young girls named Alison and Stacey. The video was featured on a number of internet culture blogs including the Daily Dot, Mashable and the Huffington Post within days of its launch. It was the duo’s only video before one of the girls, Alison Gold, reappeared as a solo artist with a song entitled “Chinese Food” (shown below, right) in October 2013. Though the video gained more than 5 million views in 48 hours, Wilson immediately received backlash for the video’s offensive lyrics and imagery, including the use of traditional Japanese kimonos and geisha makeup.
GMA Experiment: One Week To Hit It Big
In June 2011, Wilson launched his second company, Pato Music World, after Jey left Ark Music Factory. That same month, ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA) teamed up with Wilson for the week-long segment “One Week to Hit it Big” to see if they could replicated Black’s fame in 7 days. The show organized auditions in a local mall (shown below, left), choosing Californian teenager Lexi St. George as the winner. Though she initially liked the song Wilson penned for her, she grew frustrated trying to learn it during recording, which was documented daily on GMA concluding with the premiere of her video “Dancing To The Rhythm” (shown below, right) which has accrued more than 1.2 million views as of October 2013.
Wilson’s Response to Criticisms
On May 6th, 2012, Wilson uploaded “Happy” (shown below), a satirical video intended to poke fun at the criticism surrounding his work. Subtitled “The Official Sequel to Friday,” the video depicts a news story in which an angry mob of parents claim Wilson does not care about the children whose songs he writes and calls him the “poor man’s Usher.” The video was featured on a number of entertainment blogs including Mashable, The Hollywood Gossip, Geekosystem and Gizmodo the week it was uploaded.
Patrice Wilson grew up in Nigeria before attending school in Europe, where he began to build his career as a rapper under the name Pato. In 2001, he moved to the United States where he studied at Washington’s Whitworth University before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a music career. He maintains a Twitter account where he has nearly 25,000 followers.
The Hollywood Gossip – Patrice Wilson, Rebecca Black Producer, Releases “H.A.P.P.Y.”
The Daily Beast – The Most Offensive Lyrics and WTF Moments From ‘Chinese Food’