read the original Kon Artis interview here.
By Antonio Sams & Dynasty Williams
Is Denaun Porter mentally balanced? If you peruse the production credits on notable singles like 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P,” Pharoahe Monch’s “Body Baby,” and multiple D-12 records, the answer must be yes. But some of Mr. Porter’s actions tread closely along the lines of insanity. After reaching multi- platinum status as a producer and a rapper, the man with multiple personalities has officially crossed the line. His new website MrPorterBeats.com has stacks of beats for sale with starting prices of $25. Drastically reducing the price tag on his creations has some people thinking he has lost his marbles entirely. But, Mr. Porter’s level headed movement is creating opportunities for street level artists, pushing him to accomplish goals as an executive, and allowing him to contribute production to the much anticipated Dr. Dre album Detox. Mr. Porter took time out with AllHipHop.com to clarify his state of mind and connect the dots on his journey to prominence.
AllHipHop.com: How did you get started in music production?
Mr. Porter: It was actually in â€˜94. I was in a local group, this guy was one of my group members, he did beats. He introduced me to Proof, and Proof introduced me to J Dilla. And that was pretty much how I got into it. And then from there, I hooked up with Dre, after Eminem got signed.
AllHipHop.com: Being both a producer and rapper, which art form do you tend to enjoy the most?
Mr. Porter: As of late, I’ve been enjoying the producing end a lot more. Being able to executive produce and becoming more involved in the whole process of the record, it’s made me so much more serious about it. I like the fact that I can work with the artists from the top and the bottom. Being a rapper is one thing, and being on stage is one thing, but the producing end of it is kind of like being able to do everything, because I might write the hook, I might write the song, and I might come up with the whole concept of the song. It’s really one in the same for me.
AllHipHop.com: How did you end up executive producing Pharoahe Monch’s Desire?
Mr. Porter: Me and Pharoahe basically met, and we worked on this song called â€œPeppermint Creeps.â€ Once we met and we started talking, I’m already tripping because it was Pharoahe, but we started talking and got cool. We had an understanding; it was just easy from that point. His situation with Rawkus was over with, and I took him to Shady [Records], and I was gon’ executive produce it and actually do an imprint under Shady, which is my imprint Runyon Ave. The process took so long, and we just ended up not doing the deal. Everywhere he went, I was just involved in the project, because we were constantly doing songs and constantly working. You know how a manager might want you to do things a certain kind of way as far as business, like, â€œMake sure you get paid first,â€ but when you got a love for music and you got an understanding with somebody, we ain’t give a s**t about that, we just kept on working.
AllHipHop.com: What are your final thoughts about the album?
Mr. Porter: I would have to say that it became more complicated. I don’t feel like it was a full executive production. It was my first taste of doing it, but I know that it’s a lot more to it. But I wasn’t able to really get all of that done, because they wanted certain records and I think it became a rush thing for the label [SRC/Universal Motown]. It kind of got out of my control. I didn’t have that full control. Had I had full control, it might have been different things that happened. Different songs would have made it, some would have made it, but other songs wouldn’t have made it. But as far as being involved, I did like five or six songs on it, I executive produced it, I co-produced songs. So I’m deeply involved.
AllHipHop.com: 2006 was a rough year for Detroit Hiphop. Within two months of each other, both J Dilla and Proof passed away. You worked closely with both of them, how has that affected you personally?
Mr. Porter: You gotta understand, that’s the reason that I got into the game. Proof introduced me to J Dilla. I introduced J Dilla to Dre, and just having that feeling of being able to have Dre, J Dilla, and myself in the same room, both of my teachers, was the greatest feeling on Earth. And plus, this dude [J. Dilla] allowed me to come over his house late night when he was doing sessions with Pete Rock. And Proof, me and Proof, we had the relationship where I didn’t know how proud of me he was until I he was gone. Me and him would fight. We’re one in the same, I feel like, because he taught me so much about just being able to stand on my own, and not wait on one person to do anything. That’s why I’m kind of like out ahead and not waiting on Eminem to do anything, because he told me don’t do that, that’s not the move. He helped create who I am, and J Dilla helped create who I am. I got Guilty Simpson, who me and J Dilla was gon’ do his project together. That was the last artist he planned on working with, as far as his own artists. And now that I have to finish that record, it’s tough, every time I hear a song that J Dilla did. That whole year was the worst year of my life. They’re the reason that I’m in the game, because if Proof never introduced me to Jay Dee, I never would have got that serious about producing.
AllHipHop.com: Proof was the founding member of D12. As far as recording your current album, how has the chemistry been affected by Proof not being there for this D12 album?
Mr. Porter: I’ll tell you the truth, man: it’s affected to me, a 100,000%. I don’t even know how I’m recording a record without Proof. The whole relationship with this group and Em [Eminem] and everything is affected. You feel the difference. I know Proof wouldn’t tolerate a lot of s**t, man. I’m not trying to take Proof’s place as the person that just takes over the group. I can’t do that. I can’t front like that’s what’s up, ’cause that’s not what’s up. Music wise, I think we can manage as far as doing certain things, because a lot of times Proof would come to the studio, sometimes he wouldn’t come to the studio. But he was the boss, man, so he ain’t have to.
AllHipHop.com: So he was like that voice that everybody listened to?
Mr. Porter: Oh yeah. He was the leader, period. He put Eminem’s stage shows together. The way people saw Em, Proof had a lot to do with that. Proof put those songs together and how the stage show went. It was for Em to perform those songs a certain kind of way and make people feel it. Because the way he put that show together, he put it together so people could feel it. Those things are so important, and we’re missing all that now. That’s all gone.
It’s hard, number one, to do a record without everybody there that originally started something. Em is busy doing his album. Like I think sometimes, that I hear that people think that I’m too busy to do this. And it’s not that I’m too busy to do anything. I’m just trying to get to the point where we get the record done, and everybody’s focused on the same thing. I can be focused on doing a record, but I don’t want to do the record we did for the last record [2004’s D12 World]. It’s a lot of different feelings and emotions. And sometimes we can be angry and say a lot of stuff out of anger and do a lot of stuff out of anger. And I just want everybody to be in the same room – not a whole bunch of other people that we don’t know – the group, us, who we are. That’s what I’m looking for and that’s when I feel like we’ll be able to come back to it. I’m not having fun with the music that we make, bottom line. It could be that void, but in the same breath, it’s gotta be how things are being handled. I’m not currently happy with my situation. If people at the label are looking for me to lie about being happy, nah, I’m not happy. Nobody’s happy with the fact that we lost Proof.
AllHipHop.com: Your website Mrporterbeats.com launched on June 15, 2007. What can we expect from this site?
Mr. Porter: Basically, beats with hooks. They will be top quality, all of the beats I’ve mixed. These beats can be used for people that are working on demos to shop music, and that are working on mixtapes, things of that nature. You got the RIAA taking people down for using other people’s music. I don’t sample. I make up all of those melodies myself, and when I do sample, I do it in light of what I’ve learned from Dilla and all of those people. Expect everything that you would want to buy from me if you saw me. Like, â€œOkay, I can’t afford to pay for this kind of beat, but yo, why don’t you hook me up with something?â€ People that really know my production and know me, they know that every time I come with something, I’m gon’ try to my best to make sure it’s the best thing as possible. Basically, it’s for people that want to do different music.
AllHipHop.com: Is it true that you’re selling these beats for $25 dollars and up?
Mr. Porter: The beats with the hooks are $150.00, the beats without the hooks are $50.00, and you have prices in between according to the music. That’s because it’s not a concern of trying to sell the beats. I’m basically trying to be able to reach a lot of people that I’ve never been able to reach, like people overseas. If they want that beat for themselves, and they want the Pro Tools session, they can get the Pro Tools session and they can post their songs. I’m going to listen to their song, and let people vote on the best version of that song. And then they’ll be able to get that beat, and they will have to go through the proper channels to be able to put that song on their album.
AllHipHop.com:. Dr. Dre is using a team of producers to craft his much-anticipated Detox album. What role are you playing on this team?
Mr. Porter: It’s just a team of dudes who have a respect for each other. It’s the hardest thing to explain, â€˜cause it’s really like, he has a job to do, he has a record that he’s ready to put out, and I’m there to help that process. Whatever that means. If that means writing a hook, if I that means doing a beat, and I have a beat that’s a skeleton that’s a great idea of a beat, he’ll make that idea better. Dre, he’s a visionary. He’s Quincy Jones, he’s one of those real dudes. He’s the real thing. My part is just to help the creative process, however that is, because I don’t wear one hat. It’s really hard to explain, but it’s important to me that it comes out, because it’s so important to Hip-Hop. And to be a part of that means everything to me.
AllHipHop.com: Have any of your beats or ideas made the album, from what you know?
Mr. Porter: I don’t of know what I’ve done that’s going on it. I don’t know what direction it’s going, only Dre knows that. Only he knows where it’s going. I’ll tell you what, it’s gon’ change Hip-Hop again.
AllHipHop.com: Aside from the music, who is Mr. Porter the individual?
Mr. Porter: A person that’s always thinking. An emotionally unbalanced character, I would say. Because I don’t deal with some issues very well. Emotionally, it’s hard to deal with those things sometimes. And just a visionary, I want to be considered, when I leave here, the guy that brought Hip-Hop to a different level as far as artist that come about. I want to be the artist, the producer, and the executive. I want to be the next Russell [Simmons] and the next Quincy Jones of rap. A cross between Quincy, Russell, and Dre that’s what I want to be. That’s my whole purpose, to figure out how to combine those three and make those moves that way, however long it takes me.