Throwaway Style is a monthly column dedicated to examining all aspects of the Northwest music scene. Whether it’s a new artist making waves, headlines affecting local talent, or reflecting on some of the music that’s been a foundation in our region; this space celebrates everything happening in the Northwest region, (usually) the first Thursday of every new month on KEXP.org.
“It’s kind of basement space with no windows, so it gets hot as hell down here."
Perry Porter is leading me and filmmaker/rapper/all-around multi-hyphenate LexScope to his art studio, deep in the bowels of a Pioneer Square building along what used to be the Alaskan Way Viaduct. He isn’t kidding; the heat grows as we make our way to a corner room. It’s like the door you open to enter a dream: Inside there are prints and sketches and paintings adorning the floor and walls. Brown-skinned women with flowing blue or seafoam green hair, a couple with no faces wasting time on a bench, leaves, petals, and flowers painted on the pipes. The kind of room that would absolutely come alive if I happened to take LSD after I parked my car at the garage. Thankfully, I’m a professional.
It’s a space rendered absolutely colorful by Porter’s usage of texture and tone, which makes me wonder how drag the practice space belonging to the band chatting beside their van outside could be.
Black artistry naturally, almost obviously, courses throughout Porter's latest album Bobby Ro$$, from Carrie Mae Weems chatting with Terence Nance about imbuing your personality into your work; Jean-Michel Basquiat noting the mindfuck of being a brilliant, once-in-a-generation talent in the gallery yet just another black man in the streets, but in the crosshairs of the white gaze; Maya Angelou recalling asking Tupac Shakur, “Did you know our people stood on auction blocks?”
Porter also created a color wheel for the recently released full-length, each of its twelve colors signifying the moods of the album’s songs. Over a summer evening bounce, “Twenty Grand” is about knowing one’s worth, counting earnings to the tempo of the beat while Jarv Dee, underground king of the Seattle rap scene, rebukes both haters and the respect of do-nothing scenesters loitering the city’s streets.
“Watercolor” is guided by Porter’s assertion, “My self-love shouldn’t bother others,” while he searches for financial freedom and spiritual relief in the face of manic depression and the lack of acceptance from those outside of his kingdom. As the breezy, golden beat flows and pulsates on, Porter admits he’s striving to be an honest lover.
Porter’s charisma serves as a splash of additional color over the prismatic beats he has chosen for the project. The eerie, dusky bounce of “Surf” is made playful by the amount of fun Porter’s having before the melody changes and he ruminates on the hidden trauma buried in survival. Both of the movements that make up “Cruise Control” evoke riding down MLK (Seattle or Tacoma, take your pick) in a money green Coupe de Ville with a little forest green extinguished in the ashtray. “Paraglide to heaven like we both fools,” Porter sings in the song’s chorus.
Bobby Ro$$ relies a great deal on its impressionistic, sensation-heavy aesthetic, very much an aural extension of Porter’s luminous, sometimes dreamlike paintings. That’s not to say he can’t rap or he’s a vaguely defined wordsmith coasting off a vibe; Porter is a formally and structurally talented MC, his verses rife with clever quips and sure-handed wordplay. He doesn’t present his words as boringly straightforward nor overly literary; he presents these words as florid, a means to support to the worldview of the music as a whole. Porter’s work is emblematic of the fact great artists focus on their work. If you’re out here whining on Twitter about how your greatness is unappreciated, you’re not working on your art hard enough.
Seated next to Porter on the couch in the warm confines of his art studio, with LexScope’s camera running close to the wall facing us, we stretch our conversational legs over the course of his entire career, from making beats and rapping in high school to being one of the region’s most promising artists across two different mediums. (This interview has been edited for clarity.)
KEXP: So I guess let's start from the beginning. We were talking about where you were born and how you moved to Washington State, but let's go ahead and get that on the record.
Perry Porter: Born in Salinas, California, moved up here – actually, started in Germany then came over here. I grew up in Spanaway, Tacoma.
Were you born in Germany?
Perry Porter: No, I was born in Salinas. Lived in Germany for like three years. And that's where I got a lot of the weird shit, like all the weird anime and cartoons I'm into now, they came from there. And it just seemed like a week ago, because I was just trying like show our friends shit I grew up on, and none of them knew any of the cartoons I was talking about, like none of them.
Like what? I'm probably not going to have any idea either.
Perry Porter: Samurai Pizza Cats, Motorcycle Mice from Mars, Street Sharks, just a bunch of weird shit. It's a bunch of old, early 90's shit.
Street Sharks definitely came on out here in the States. I feel like I've heard of Samurai Pizza Cats too.
Perry Porter: You can watch it on Amazon. I just watched it last night. So it was like that, then came Tacoma. Been here pretty much the whole time now. And Seattle the last two years.
When was that, when you moved to Tacoma? Like 6 years old?
Yeah, I was five when I moved to Spanaway; all of my family ended up moving to Tacoma, so we always ended up having close ties. Like Eastside, Hilltop and whatnot. I grew up in Spanaway, so it was like treehouses, snakes, woods. Really like underdeveloped. It's more developed now, it was super underdeveloped when we lived there. All military families; it was like a weird melting pot. Everyone was just farmers, like hella farmers. A lot of farmers. [laughter]
So tell me about when you first started getting into music. I heard you were a classically trained drummer.
Perry Porter: Yes. Got into music really early, my dad was a DJ in Arkansas, so he was really really into music. I remember us being the first kids on the block with Limewire. He was the type that would, when shit got released, he'd go to the library and rent it, and then burn all of it and then take the CDs back to the library. He was just very savvy with just getting free music and shit.
That was always instilled in me. Then, I was like seven and he ended up buying a drum set for the family, and I would just bang on it. I skated and I had a lot of friends, and they all wanted to to go to [school] band. So I was like, "Yeah, I'll join with you guys." I started doing that at like eight and just never dropped out; did all through grade school. Didn't really think about it much. And then at the end of high school, everyone was rapping. It seemed really cool; my brother was rapping and stuff. So it was kind of instilled in me, "Just go for it."
Did you start making beats at that point? Did you start rapping, recording?
Perry Porter: Yeah, I made beats for a while. They're really bad, so no one really wanted them and I would just like rap over them myself. Then one day, my friend heard me. He was like, "Yo, you have a cool-ass voice, bro. You really do this." And I was like, "Alright, cool." That's good confirmation I needed.
What did your early stuff sound like?
Perry Porter: It was all over the place. All my family, they were really into like gangsta rap stuff. So it was always just a little edgy, just cause I always wanted to prove myself, but I was always into like Outkast and Missy Elliott's stuff. So I was trying to make fun music, but it was always – it wasn't really me being myself; it was me making fun music, but every now and then I'd have to mention a gun or some drug stuff I wasn't doing. But it was still fun. I've always tried to keep it fun.
And then you joined a group, right?
Perry Porter: Yeah. Joined a group called Sleep Steady. We started in 2007. We all met in high school through a bunch of mutual friends, and everyone was like, "This guy raps, he's really good. This guy raps." So we all got linked. The one everybody knows is Cid Vishiz. It was me, Cid Vishiz, and this guy named Stymie. Us three. Cid ended up moving to the Bay in like in 2008, and it was just me and Stymie that did a lot of stuff together. And Cid came back here and it's like 2005 and Stymie left the group because he wanted to start a family and whatnot. And yeah we started doing the group there. Things got wild. Game placements and stuff. The group was a big part [of my development] though. It helped me to learn how to find myself within a team.
Tell me about this wild stuff because that's part of the story. Let's get into that.
Perry Porter: Oh yeah. Well through doing the Sleep Steady stuff we got really, really known for just being like the wild mosh pit guys, and that led to us meeting this guy named Conrad. He was kind of paying attention to me when I was a little solo stuff every now and then. Cid was living in a different state. So he was kind of teaching me how to do stuff. And through him, I met this guy named Stint. So I met them like six, seven years ago. So they were teaching me how to like create music, like how to make songs. Because they were like, "You guys are really dope rappers, you guys are aggressive, but you guys just don't know how to make songs."
So we did that a whole lot of just going to Canada and L.A., a lot of that stuff. And that's when we got on the UFC 2 game. We started doing a lot of those wild moves but we still weren't known here. So it was just really weird complex of doing a lot of worldwide stuff but still trying to find our footing within our own community.
So how did that transition into you really getting after solo stuff?
Perry Porter: It's always kind of been instilled in me; when we did the Sleep Steady stuff I did a lot of the management and graphic design stuff. So I always just kind of had that instillment of being an entrepreneur and being a self-taught kind of person.
So once the group kind of left, I really was like, "Just keep doing the same process." Between me and Cid, he would do a lot of the beats, do a lot of the engineering. And I'd do the management, the business side of stuff and the visual shit. So it was like in-house between us two; we just learned a lot just doing that. Definitely taught us to be very independent. Taught us a lot of business savvy shit.
Did you put out a lot of projects before Channel Surfing?
Perry Porter: I put out two solos. I did one in 2012, it was called Paper Moon. It blew up a little bit in like France and stuff because I was wearing the astronaut suit and doing all the extra shit. [laughs] And it ended up getting pretty good plays on YouTube, and I got to meet a lot of people kind of travel a little bit. But I was still young, so I didn't really know what it meant then. But it was always good affirmation to just know that when I did put out music, it did move somewhere. And then we took a hiatus with the Sleep Steady stuff to kind of like hone our craft and then that's when we dropped the TRUNK project in 2017. And then after that, that project and this lifestyle took a big toll on me. Yeah, it was a lot. It just wasn't mentally worth all of that [I went through].
So you started painting around 2012 as well. What was the impetus of that?
Perry Porter: It was back to the whole of us being our own entrepreneurs and whatnot. While we're doing Sleep Steady, I was still putting out solo music, just because not everybody was here at the time. And I was always the friend that was, "Let's just do the most." I was the type of kid who would make a studio in my bedroom and try to make an album like that weekend, start to finish, the album be done in two days. Just very weird ambition.
When I started in solo music again, I did that Paper Moon project and I just had this really big idea of doing these really like watery-looking abstract paintings – and I didn't even know what watercolor was, even then. And I was just really big on looking at stuff on Tumblr and I found this artist named Lora Zombie and I just fell in love with her work. I was like trying to get her to commission for the piece. But when I looked it up, I was like, "Oh yeah, I definitely can't afford her." [laughter]
But something in my brain was just like fixated with it; for weeks I just couldn't get her art out of my brain. It was like, "I just need to try it." I just went to Amazon and bought like $200 worth of watercolor stuff and never looked back from there.
What about her work inspired you?
Perry Porter: It was just everything I feel like even my music is: very playful, very colorful, but it always revolved around death and drugs and stuff. Like if a kid saw it, they would just love it just because the aesthetic of how it looked, but the parent would know what the actual meaning of a lot of the stuff was. Just that duality and contrast with stuff, which is super appealing to me. It's like what a lot of my art is; I'm very childish so very playful but I'm a very sick individual. [laughter]
Is that when you started to think more about aesthetic in your painting and your music?
Perry Porter: That's when everything's clicking more. I started to feel like with the music it didn't really have an identifying – I couldn't identify who I was as a person. I feel like with that moment, I've always been an artist that I'm always drawn, I always did creative stuff. That was the first time that I felt like I took the title of being an artist and kind of ran with it. Since then, rapping about art and being creative has always been a part of my music. And that's why I felt a lot of the facade or things I was trying to make up as a rapper kind of disappeared from there.
So you spoke from more of your experience as an art nerd.
Perry Porter: Exactly. I grew up around drug dealers and stuff, so that enticement of being a hustler has always been in me, so it was a way for me to still talk about being like that but in the aspect of being creative.
It comes from the observation of being in that life, of witnessing that life, rather than putting yourself at the forefront. Like a lot of rappers do whether they're being honest about it or not.
Perry Porter: Exactly yeah. It's the same ambition of a hustler, the spirit of that. Knowing how to know your own worth knowing how to just flip a product. I was always obsessed with that lifestyle. So being able to kind of cross both -- my family members, they love the music now because they could see that. They understand it, so it's pretty dope.
So tell me all about Channel Surfing. Tell me about the process, tell me about the themes.
Perry Porter: With Channel Surfing, it was like a TV Guide into my thoughts, because my thoughts, as you see from here [gestures around the art studio], are very chaotic. Channel Surfing was supposed to be my solo project for a Sleep Steady idea we had. When TRUNK came out, our next project was going to be a three-part project. What was going to be a group project and me and Cid doing individual ones. He was going to go into more of the metal version of TRUNK and I was going to go more into the jazz version.
There were two or three songs with ideas I had for Sleep Steady. When Sleep Steady broke up, I was going through a lot of manic problems and just a lot of mental stuff. So I'd take a break for a while, but I just kept telling myself, "This is what you've been doing your whole life. You still need to make music.".
So the album is songs I had collected up to that point in time. It was: "Here's the perfect version of a manic person. I hope you guys like it." And it went over very well. I did the Meatwad thing just because I really like conceptualizing albums; making like a whole universe or stuff and it fit perfect into the mess of what Perry is.
So was this manic period, like – what did it have to deal with? Were there like personal tragedies in your life?
Perry Porter: Yeah, I went through a lot with the Sleep Steady breakup, so in my brain, it was just like, "Your career, your dreams pretty much like are over." It was like, "You guys have been in this group for so long, you guys had a really cool accolade to be in this [UFC] game and to be able to travel the world and do all this stuff, it's over." And at the same time, the girl that I thought I was going to be married with, that completely ended as well. I had a lot of family stuff going on. I'm semi-bipolar, so I go through my manic stages where I'm like, "I'm on top of the world." And I will be on top of the world for like four months and then for a month, I'm just crashing.
And when you when you're in that moment, where you're rapping, like you don't you just make reckless decisions and you just think you can get away with anything. I was dealing with those consequences from all that. So it was just as a crash. It was a big reality check from myself, a crash. I just had to get something out of there. We just let people know I so created shit. Very therapeutic for myself.
That's interesting because you also have a lot of Ric Flair vocal samples in there and Ric Flair is kind of the epitome of ... confidence.
Perry Porter: Yes, exactly, exactly. And that's what it is; a lot of my music sometimes even sounds that self-deprecating and then that's it. There are moments where he's just completely Ric Flair and it's, "You can't tell me anything. I think I am the greatest person at this moment." When I'm wrapped up like that, that's what it is. [laughs] I could do whatever, I could do three backflips in the eye at one time, it's cool. I'll figure it out. And it's just not reasonable. [laughter]
Do you think that competitive spirit is – should it drive an artist to like want to be like, "You know what? I'm the best at this. Can't nobody tell me any different." Because that's how I feel with writing sometimes.
Perry Porter: I feel like you kind of have to have it a little bit. I enjoy it. I enjoy that part of people being competitive. For me, sometimes it's more being competitive with myself. Because that's I would do like about art, but sports can't really be that subjective. You know when you lose you just kind of lose, you know what I'm saying? [laughter] I feel like art, it's so subjective, there are so many different styles and you could take ownership of your own.
I think that's another way you can have the confidence because I see it with myself through the Bobby Ro$$ project; I feel like I'm coming into my own and no one can do Perry better than Perry. I'm not focused on trying to be anybody else. I don't feel like my music sounds like anybody, I'm completely oblivious to any of that right now. And it's like if anybody tries to do it I'm trying to do, you're not going to do it that well.
My ego now lives now for the most part. It's never going to go away, so I've gotta just pivot it somewhere else.
Is Channel Surfing where the Bobby Ross nickname came from?
Perry Porter: Actually, it's from TRUNK. When we started TRUNK, Cid was looked at as the unicorn because he had the crazy colored hair, he was Asian and people didn't think Asian dudes could rap like that. I was already looked at as Bob Ross at that time because since I've started painting, people instantly started noticing. And that was even another thing; it was me realizing, "Oh shit, look at my friends paint. This is so new to everybody." So it started there because learning all this stuff really helped the identity of it and people always said it before me. So it has kinda stuck.
Does Bob Ross inspire you as an artist in any way?
Perry Porter: Oh yeah, definitely. There are similarities even down to [the fact that] he's very calm. I really do like that; he's really chill about everything. He even says like borderline really silly shit, but he says it so calmly it doesn't even sound that silly. I love the fact that like I'm the type of artist that – I just want to do it at that moment. I would try to finish that painting the next few hours. So I love that everything he does is very live. And his Afro. He was cool as fuck.
But I made the point though to not want to be the black Bob Ross. I want to take ownership of that. Because even I don't have a problem with being the black Bob Ross, I always have this weird thing of being like compared to the "white superior" shit all the time. I mean, they never do a reverse for the most part; we're always where the black version of this, the black of that. I have no problem being parallel, but I'm gonna make it, "The black Bob Ross is just called Bobby Ross."
I like the parallels that you used on Channel Surfing when you were calling yourself Bobby Rozay because it's like kind of this amalgam, this combination of Bob Ross and Rick Ross, which is a really succinct and really perfect description of what you do.
Perry Porter: Hell yes, hell yes. That's perfect because that's exactly what [vibe] I wanted that song to give off. Rick Ross is the foundation, I feel, of a guy who's created his world but is done very well that at one point we almost even like it. We just all love it.
I remember having a conversation like – wasn't too long after the whole correctional officer thing, when got outed, but he's rendered his world so thoroughly and his [writing] voice is so individual, do we even fucking care that he's rapping about being a drug kingpin? It doesn't even fucking matter.
Perry Porter: Real shit. And he's taking care of all of his artists, he's even called other labels out, like Birdman [founder of Cash Money Records] for not doing that. He's very thorough. So do what you gotta do, man.
So you talked about moving through projects super, super fast. So was Bobby Ro$$ a project that happened quickly?
Perry Porter: It's the first time I've taken my time for real on a project. I wanted to take my time and even down to like paying everybody which I did that. I wanted to make sure everybody was compensated right. I wanted it to be the most.
Because with Channel Surfing, I feel like I gave everyone more than just the manic Perry. So I wanted to give them a very thorough look at me, all the way through. Making sure that there wasn't two songs that sounded alike at all, or even [had] the same song structures and stuff like that; or making sure that I was trying to have as many local people as we could. Channel Surfing was the first time I didn't work with just an exclusive producer. So was me just grabbing stuff online. So then with this next one, I wanted everyone to be local. I could just touch the studio if we needed to.
So when you talk about no two songs being the same, it reminds me of the color wheel that you did for the album. It would be cool if you could explain that and explain the themes of your songs and how they relate to the moods of the different colors.
Perry Porter: So what's crazy is the idea came almost after the project was done. But I've had the concept the whole time, so the concept was I wanted to create an album that audio-wise, represented every color in the color wheel. So with a song like "Surf," that's the turquoise song. That's my favorite color, so I wanted that to be the type of music I like. "Surf" is the music I listen to all day. I would say that's the super wavy song, that's the super swaggy, the confident song of that type of color.
And then there's songs like "Bust That," that's the yellow song, and it's the song that's about the girls. You know it's really bright and it's supposed to remind people of being on a summer day. I just really tried to really stripped down both the meanings, of what that color represents and then what this song would represent. And then as I was just listening to the album, thinking about some of that, and I realized, "Oh shit, there are twelve colors on a color wheel, I've got twelve songs. Oh damn." So I'm looking at everything and then changing some of the songs around. And I was smoking a lot of weed, so it helps it make sense, I'd imagine. [laughter]
It always helps things make better sense. So on this album, you have like a lot of themes relating to art as it pertains to the black perspective. And so it made me really curious as to when you go to the art world, which is still a white-dominated world, how do you navigate that world as a black man, as a rapper, as a black artist across several different fields.
Perry Porter: Well first when I was doing the project, it completely took a turn because I really wanted to talk more about that. When I first was doing the project, it started off as more of the parody Bob Ross kind of thing, and at the time going on, there were a lot of conversations with black creatives or just doing a lot of my own shows, because one thing I would realize is I get so much more artistic or even intellectual respect when I say I'm a painter first.
Now when I mention I'm a rapper – I've never really got respect for being a rapper, because I don't look like a rapper. But I know I can out-rap a lot of these motherfuckers. That's one I've always noticed, that is I don't look like a rapper so I never get respect like a rapper. Because I look more like a painter, or because painters have more of the intellectual thing to them, people give me far more respect, far more freedom. They're willing to pick my brain a lot more. So that was always curious for me to just go to certain situations and talk to people about.
Why do you think that is? That rap is this art form that people kind of … "ugh, whatever," and when you tell people you're a painter it kind of almost elevates -- well, perspective-wise it elevates [you as a creator in their eyes].
Perry Porter: It's wild. Of course, is the racist stuff. It's easy to say that but I really can't pinpoint why. It's like the thing with Basquiat. People love the hell out of Basquiat but at the same time, he was around rappers his whole life. He was around Fab Five Freddy and all them, growing up in that whole scene. But I just feel like it's because somewhere in society, they've gotten this really weird hold on the art world. There's this really weird mystique hold on our world and black people really aren't in it. Because white America has more control over the art world.
I would say that once a black person or a person of color has a white fanbase you are accepted. And I feel like it's so much harder with the art world because they have such a hold on it, but because they do, if you are a black artist, they are just so more impressed that you even know about them. It's just really weird. It's a very weird thing, I'm trying myself still to figure it out why it's like that or even how it started. It is very very strange.
I think a lot about the fact that there is this history, like a long, centuries-long history of like black visual art and you really have to do your research if you want to find other black artists that are doing something cool that may jive with the kind of thing you're trying to do. And that's so weird because you could do a cursory Google search and find 10, 20, 100 or white artists early at the tip of your fingers.
Perry Porter: My friend did tell me the other day like we would have a conversation. He gets on me a lot about taking ownership of who I am because he's actually said that a lot too, he was like, "You don't realize the position you are being the rapper/painter, what you do." He did say something, where he was kind of like, "At the end of the day when it's all said and done like all we do have is the art."
And I do feel like that's maybe one reason why we aren't really represented because the best way to get us out of history is not to have a visual representation of who we are. I think that's really what it is: it's easy to accept us because then you can always ignore us. If you don't see us in the art world, then you don't have to see us anywhere. If we're not in a museum, we're almost not real people to them. It's really fucking stupid.
Really fucked up too.
Perry Porter: But I will say though rappers love the fact I'm a painter. That has been my favorite part, seeing how much the rap world loves that I'm a painter. They are obsessed with it; I've seen it in other rappers be about it. So that has been the surprising part.
LexScope: If I can chime in as a third party, as a filmmaker and a video guy that shoots a fuck ton of shows, I never shot a show like this man's show before in my entire life.
Perry Porter: That's lit.
Tell me more about that. What about it [made you feel that way]?
LexScope: I'd never shot a show, one, where the level of creative business savvy, as well as artistry, came in because he had crowd participation. People came up on stage and painted him as he rapped. That's a crazier level of crowd participation than a normal musician is not going to be able to achieve ever, and be organic. That's just from being there firsthand. I've been to a lot of Perry shows, but like that show was crazy. Never seen anything like that in my whole life. Talking about is easy because it's like I'm not gassing it, I'm just factual about what happened.
Right yeah. And even hearing about it; I think I heard about it on Twitter.
Perry Porter: I will say a lot of people talked about it. It was a big deal.
It was definitely a big deal. But like it's one of those things where like. You can't really pinpoint anywhere to where that specific experience has happened.
Perry Porter: Yeah. Yeah. And that's where my friend gets on me about that, it's just like being more of an influence and realizing that people are watching said and other artists. Because. That's what guys are with the visual arts and you painting allow us weren't exposed to a lot. Me being a painter, I had that ability to be able to think about – having the privilege to think of having that idea and it being able to work. Because even if somebody could have the idea of just not being a painter might not have gone over as well. People might not have been cool with it, people might have jumped onstage. But it worked out.
Like going back to representing who you are, I think a lot about my work. I think a lot about ancestral weight. Do you ever feel like the ancestral weight come into play; like you feel like you're shouldering it while you're working?
Perry Porter: Hell yeah, I feel like that. And then I slowly start to feel like a fraud after.
Perry Porter: Because it's just like I do what I do, and I think of all the things other people did and they've had so much more knowledge because when I started making art and doing all this, it was really, I just was having fun and doing all that. And through doing a lot of this, seeing how I've inspired other people and all that stuff is me opening my eyes and even seeing a lot more of stuff I even feel like there's a lot of things that I was maybe oblivious to before, not being in this situation.
And then, that's when I start thinking about other people that I started looking up to. I look at Kerry James Marshall, like, "He's done all these other things. I'm not doing this. I'm still out here worrying about girls and shit. I'm out here trying to get high and these motherfuckers are out here trying to change the world for real." [laughter]
I get way too much into that and then I forget that sometimes my purpose is just being myself. People just need to see that shit.
I think a lot about the idea of existing as a black person as a radical act. Because you know, in the culture of white supremacy, everyone is out for blood. Like, these white people are out for blood, out for black flesh that they can just bury in the ground like garbage. So the fact that you're even walking down the street, let alone like creating this beautiful art. It's not only beautiful art, beautiful music in the traditional sense. It's that you're sticking it to the culture of white supremacy because you're a black man and you're doing it.
Perry Porter: Hell yeah. That's what I try to remind myself. Because I feel that way, I really do feel that way. So thank you for your fucking reminding me of that, because doing this shit, you get too caught up in shit sometimes. But what would be your favorite song on the project?
Lexscope: I like that ... [sings a few bars from "Bust That"]
I really like the whole project as a complete statement. There are a lot of albums where I can pinpoint songs and be like, "Oh yeah, that one was my joint. That was my joint."
Perry Porter: That's what I wanted. I really wanted people to want to listen to the whole thing together.
Some songs I can – I can pinpoint "Surf" when I hear it I can pin down. "Bust That" when I hear it, but like there are songs that I have to run over to my stereo and be like, "What was the name of that again?" Because I'm so used to letting it exist while I am writing or just washing dishes, whatever the fuck. It's a great album to take in as a whole.
LexScope: Can I ask you something to ask him?
LexScope: You should ask him why he chose to do a 12 song format instead of the industry standard of about seven. Because everyone's doing EPs, you should ask him what made him want to do a full-length. That's something I was personally curious about.
All right, cool. Well, what made you think of doing a full-length project instead of the seven-song format [which at one time served as a Kanye West concept for a year's worth of production]?
Perry Porter: Honestly it was down to me my friends talking about taking the ownership stuff again. It was me realizing I'm a painter, even with the Channel Surfing stuff. What Channel Surfing made me realize is my fans have given me the creative ability to just do what I really want to do. I really really love making albums so I'm gonna stick to my guns and just doing the art stuff. Like we're not gonna worry about the business side of stuff like bad or trying to market a certain way. Even with doing the show we want to make sure it was a good organic push. So that was my thing with the album.
Even the next album, I don't want to play by the rules if I have this album or I might even want to make a fucking movie with it, we're just gonna do that. And just knowing that you can do that because you are Perry Paints and that you are a painter, so make your fans are seeing it as art, they're not seeing it as the streaming stuff. Don't get caught up in that because that's where the art's gonna start falling apart.
Following what drives you creatively. I feel as though formats are limiting.
Perry Porter: And even still, there's always albums coming out, but no one ever talks about the albums anymore. You know I feel like besides a Kendrick [Lamar], no one ever really cares about the actual album; even like the Drake drops albums, everyone loves when Drake drops albums but it's because they get to pick their favorite songs.
So I really want to get down to that [the album format]. Or even when we're doing the vinyl, it's a vinyl, so I really want people to dig into the music, to do all that stuff. But then I wanted to make the music so it felt like you were still listening to singles, though. You would still listen to your hit songs, but it would still make you want to listen to the whole thing.
That's the art. Creating an album is an art in and of itself. I've been trying to write a novel for like the past 10 years and I think about it in those terms where it's like a complete creative statement.
Perry Porter: And if it's done right you can eat off it forever. Exactly. If it's really done right. You don't have to put out six albums every year. That one song was really great and say you're trying to water down to make seven of that kind of the same song.
Yeah exactly. And in the streaming-driven world, where everybody's picking a song and putting it on a playlist, it's still important to get an artist's complete thought.
Perry Porter: Because it's definitely being missed a lot. It's like people aren't really fans of artists anymore, they're fans of like a sound or trend or something. It's a wild fucking world now.
So I've got one more question. How do you feel what themes what aesthetic, everything, how do you think your music and your art intertwine?
Perry Porter: I think it's time for the just like the freedom aspect or just kind of like even just a comfort of just really being myself. I mean that's where it kind of comes together. I don't really ever try to think about either too much; I have a grand scheme of like a world where I can do stuff and I just let the pieces fall in. That's how it works. And it's like the music is more of a masculinity thing and the art is more of my feminine energy. So it's kind of different sides of the same story.
It's two sides of who you are as a person. And sometimes they merge and sometimes they're kept separate.
Perry Porter: Yeah I just try to look at stuff and I think what kind of music I would hear while I was being painted or something, or if that was supposed to be a movie, or if that was a character, what kind of score would be behind it?
When's the last time you thought about it that way?
Perry Porter: This next project I want to go a weird visual way, so I'm thinking about it completely different. I wish I could go a little more into it, but I would say it's going to be more like a band. So it'll be more personalities involved.
Perry Porter will be playing this year's Capitol Hill Block Party, don't miss his set on Saturday, July 20th at 3 pm.Tickets are still available.
The 'Zoid Will Make its Arrival August 17th
"What in the hell is The 'Zoid?" is something you might be wondering to yourself right now. The 'Zoid is a one-day music festival, taking place at Cafe Racer, Monkey Pub, DIY venue Woodland Park Xoo (as well as two very close house venues) all within a few minutes of each other. Presale tickets are only $10 (they'll be $15 the day of the shows) and the lineup is jam-packed with great bands, including but not limited to Tres Leches, Dogbreth, Actionesse, Powerbleeder, and Lydia Lund of Chastity Belt. You'd be hard pressed to find more than eight hours of great music for less than the cost of breakfast in Seattle.
How does a child musician turned punk journeyman become one of the most talented and sought after hip-hop producers in Seattle? Martin Douglas investigates.
The Tacoma MC takes a bold step away from the black cloud hovering over his life and into singularity as an artist.
Tacoma's Buje Mane doesn't consider himself a rapper, but he's finding a way to pave new territory in the genre.