After making music history as part of D-12 and as a Grammy Award winning producer DeNaun Porter has taken the long overdue first step in his career as a solo artists. The EP “Stuff In My Backpack” is a lush, snarky, romantic collection of things that shouldn’t go together like chili pepper and alcohol, but come together like a spicy caipirinha. It also serves as the perfect launch pad for his production team My Own Planet, comprised of rapper/producers Young Roc, Marv One, his daughter T-Baby and singer Pado.
To commemorate the occasion DeNaun made a return visit to WatchLOUD’s offices to give us a sneak peek into what he has been carrying around in this backpack for so long.
10. The meaning behind the name of his production company “My Own Planet”…
I always say that I’m too backpack for the mainstream and too mainstream for the backpack so I never feel like I have a place. And there are a lot of people who feel that way. I’m not necessarily looking for misfits but people with talent that have their own thing. It’s not trying to just be what they’re doing to fit in. They can all sing, rap and produce, I got luck y with that. Right now it’s Young Rock, Marv One, my daughter Tierra and an Argentinian singer named Pato. Just a very eclectic group of people and I believe in al lot them. There’s a lot of talented people from where I’m from, but I don’t always get to work with them. And this is a great start.
9. Why he chose the title “Stuff In My BackPack”…
When I first started loving what hip-hop was about I noticed everybody had backpacks and I was stealing that style. I couldn’t have a Jansport, I don’t know what kind I had I was so broke. It was a piece of shit but I used to keep everything in there. Now today anywhere I go I have my bag but it’s full of random stuff. This project brought me back to my roots and the backpack represents the beginning for me. The backpack was such a big part of hip-hop for me.
8. What’s in his backpack these days…
Man, listen. Stuff! You don’t wanna everything that’s in my backpack. I have keyboards, a hard rive and some other trinkets. A little Akai keyboard with a pitch bender on it. I’m serious about what I do.
7. How he makes songs…
My thought process with writing songs, I don’t write rhymes just to write em anymore. I write down thoughts and figure out ways to make those thoughts rhyme. So the ways I construct a song…[sometimes] I’ll have a think tank of artists in the room and we’re just throwing around ideas. I don’t really have a formula, I just try to write down a lot of ideas as about what I’m thinking and feeling. Whatever I’m feeling at that moment is what comes out. But I come from the era of battle rap, so you and to be witty in your own way. But I find myself leaning toward a more matter–of–fact, making profound statements kind of way…and I can’t worry about being the best rapper. I don’t have the pressure of being the best rapper. I produce for the best rappers. What do I need to be the best rapper for? Me nerding out is not the same as Em, Royce or Marv nerding out. I don’t know how they do things but I know how Em is. I’ll play him a song and he’ll go ‘I would have said yada, yada..’ Of course you would have because you’re like a robot and an alien at the same time. I’m not that. The moments create it and that’s the best thing for me. Every subject isn’t about me. My goal is touching people that normally you wouldn’t be able to reach by listening to them. I’m not a great story teller personally but I’m a great transmitter for emotion.
“Hey” wasn’t gonna go on the project but (my manager) put a gun to my head. This [song] started it off. I did that song right after the Mike Brown verdict. I was in L.A. and it’s just like so gloomy sometimes. When things happen it can effect you emotionally and we were sitting in the crib. I got the loop from Jay Electronica…I think we were sitting around listening to samples and TJ was playing something and I heard it, but I didn’t say anything right there. I didn’t think Jay was gonna mess with it. Then I ended up messing with it. The video came about after a very racially motivated moment but I had to realize that even when you’re upset you have to find a way to walk straight. Being in L.A. is no different than being in Detroit, you get pulled over by police that’s it. You don’t know what they’re gonna do. So we drove our asses to the beach and did the video.
5. “Told Y’all” f/ Rapsody and Scram Jones
Originally that was on the Porter Chops album. I had the song and I was messing with the idea of putting it on the project. Rapsody is one of my favorite female MCs outside of my daughter and we had just did “Lonely Thoughts” and I was like yo, you gotta do something for me. She put her vocals down and then I sent it to Scram Jones because it just had that feeling. I think he made it complete. The way he puts scratches together are almost verses themselves, that’s why it’s “featuring Scram Jones.” I did some shit for Black Rob back in the day and I used to hear his name and ask “Who the fuck is Scram Jones?” Then I met him when was in NY with The Alchemist, around the time of the Eminem and Rihanna tour and we all went out to a club after the show and he was cool as shit. We clicked. He got a song that was supposed to be on the project but he didn’t get his verse on it yet.
The whole idea of the song is…sometimes I’ll make a hook before I actually have a song, or I’ll have the song in my head and not have the beat. When I was younger people had a lot of negativity towards what I wanted to do. So “Told Y’all” is like…you look at some people who was the popular kids in High School and the peaked early. Later in life they not as popular. So it’s like you was wrong about me and Rap was the perfect person because she was still fresh and proving (herself). I knew hope dope she is. She really loves the art. I wanted to get Joey Bada$$ on it (too) but I think at the time he was going through something.
4.“Impayshunt” f/ Phonte
Phonte is from NC and I’m originally from NC, so is Rapsody. This project is about the beginning of a lot of things (for me). When I first heard ATCQ I was in NC and I was like “What is that?” and Phonte… he sings and raps and is dope at both. I respect him and obviously I do some of the same things so it was easy to work with him. He’s just one of my favorite MCs. He’s doing things like rhyming the third line with the first and this dude is undeniably dope. “Impayshunt” is about a screwed up relationship I was in. That’s why It says I’m Pay Shunt…me and I’m paying for my decision and the shunt is like stabbing you in the heart. It’s like a metaphor. A person can be impatient and kill you. That was before “Heartbroken.” There was another version of “Impayshunt” But I went back and changed it so it could relate better sonically.
3. “Heartbroken” f/ Young Roc
I directed the video with this guy named Quentin. And I thought about being in a suit and shooting in black and white [because] whenever red pops out on b&w it feels a certain kind of way. The video just came about with the girl talking in my ear and she’s going off on me and I ain’t really do nothing wrong, it’s the fight before being “Impayshunt.” The hardest thing to do is break up with somebody when nothings really wrong–to them. The truth is they been messing up but now I’m just deciding to do something better with my life. That’s a hard thing to do. It can break your heart to break a heart.
2. “Cookin” f/ Royce Da 5’ 9” and Pharoahe Monch
If you say you gonna put two people like this on a song you gotta understand what you’re putting yourself into, which is a ring of fire. There’s no way to get out so you better have a sword and shield and know how to use it. I’ve always rapped next to the likes of Em so I don’t feel there’s anybody I can’t get on a song with. I set the tone for it and then they destroyed it [laughs]. I knew it was gonna happen. I had “Scenario” in mind. A lot of people do features and it doesn’t have an effect [but here] everybody has their stand-out, that’s the producer in me. I had already heard Royce’s verse so after I got past the fear of hearing what Royce was gonna do to the song, then I actually heard it I said ‘Ok, I’m bleedin’ but I ain’t dead.’ But then Pharoahe got on it and I was like ‘shit.’
1. “God Laughs”
That is the best description of me. I think a lot and that is a question I’ve asked since I was a kid. There has to be some humor in watching humans do the things we do. You watch us make these mistakes when there is a simple answer. God gotta have a sense of humor. He has to, and that whole song is about standing in front of Him one day and saying “Remember that time I fell down the stairs and I had that cake in my hand? You had to have laughed at that. Let’s look at the tape.” We are all laughing at each other and God is probably laughing at every one of us. Because we’re really not that smart. We think we are. We want to believe we are but if we were we wouldn’t be going through some of this shit.
Cop DeNaun’s Stuff In My Backpack EP and enter for a chance to win a special Studio Bums Backpack from DeNaun HERE.