Mr. Porter Interview Part 1 – Eminem and Friendship

September 23, 2009

RESIZEdenaun-porterWhile one may not expect it considering Eminem’s tumultuous upbringing, his friend/partner-in-tunes Denaun Porter seems to have a great relationship with his ‘rents. When explaining to MichiganHipHop why he operates the way he does, he’ll often say, “That’s how I was raised.” These days, Ms. Porter must be proud of her son: along with producing for his multi-platinum selling group D12, the Detroit native has become a go-to beatmaker for the likes of Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent, and helps music equipment company Open Labs develop sounds and keyboards. But Mr. Porter doesn’t let his big business get in the way of him making his stamp on the indie scene with artists like Royce Da 5’9” and Pharaohe Monch, and a consistent A-list clientele didn’t stop him from helping upstart artists with a web site that licensed his beats for as low as $50.

MichiganHipHop’s conversation with Mr. Porter was so packed with information that we had to split it into three parts. In Part 1 of this series, Mr. Porter talks vividly about his bond with Eminem. Check under the cut for how he stands by Em’s side as a producer, workout partner, hype man (in lieu of fellow D12 member Proof’s death), and as a friend.

MIHH: What’s been going on with you, man? What have you been working on?

Uh…Eminem. Relapse 2. We been goin’ hard on that. Let me see…Relapse 2, uh…Royce Da 5’9, Slaughterhouse of course. That just came out, but we’re working on another album already. What the hell else have I been doing? I did a joint with Nottz last week. Then I did a joint for Jake One, with Freeway. And I got some [songs with] State Property. Uh… working on my album surprisingly, just out of nowhere. And uh…just getting back out here on the production end really. You know, I’m kinda doing some different things with production now. I’m about to step back out there again. I’m really selective usually, and now I’m having fun again so I just want to put out beats and produce for as many people as possible.

MIHH: What is Relapse 2 sounding like so far, compared to the first Relapse?
Well what I’ve always tried to explain to people while he was doing the first Relapse, Relapse 2 was the first Relapse, I think. It’s really weird. Some of the songs that…the songs that went on Relapse 2…let me get it straight. The songs that they were doing when they did Relapse 1 were songs that they were working for the first set of songs, when he was coming out of…you know, just coming into a real clear state of mind. Being, I would say, a zombie for all those years, you know what I’m saying, you see the world through different eyes. So what Relapse 2 is, is totally a clear mind and a guy that’s really… looking at the world again. And he’s really enjoying himself. He’s stepping out of his shell when it comes to production. Like this will be the first time that I’ve produced on an album with him and it’s just me. Not like, I do something and it’s got something to do with D12. It’s like me saying “Yo Em, I got a great idea.” You know, like how Just Blaze and Kanye were doing for Jay-Z. You know what I mean? The only difference is that Jay-Z ain’t a producer. So Eminem being a producer, it’s a harder fight.

Plus we grew up together, so it was always a hard fight to impress him. He always knew I was dope, but it’s harder when you’re standing next to that person. I’m sure Kanye and Just Blaze might have the same problem, or Timbaland might have had the same problem. It was harder to impress, but it’s just fun, man. The songs we’re doing are different and people never heard Em on them. We did a joint that’s really crazy. I don’t know if it’s going to make the album because I don’t know if he really loves it, but it’s like me and him back when I was doing beats in the room, and he was writing in the living room. Like a Hip Hop Shop kind of joint. And he’s spittin’ crazy. Like the other songs, Dre’s phenomenal, you know he’s killin’ it. He’s got a lot of great songs. Relapse 1 to me was like him coming out of being a zombie, and this part 2 is like “Okay I’m back in it and here we go again.”

MIHH: How much of this project are you doing, and how much of this project is Dre doing?
Right now it’s just me and Dre as far as production. I think Amir is here. Just Blaze is coming. You know, I don’t know. He’s getting music from a lot of different people. Like, I just got a lot of different joints from 9th Wonder that I’m giving to him. So I don’t know who’s making the album yet. So right now he’s just listening to everything. So right now, the joints that he has recorded, it’s just me and Dre.

MIHH: Has he always listened to other people’s beats like that, or is this a first?
This is a first.

MIHH: So what do you think it is that’s made him so open towards other people’s beats?
Well I’m gonna be honest. …I think he was doing a lot of soul searching, after Proof’s passing. I was. I think we know that things evolve, and it’s just fun. The dude is writing like a fuckin’ maniac. Like, really. I don’t remember him being like this since we were kids. So when we were younger…it was me doing the beats, or DJ Head. So it went from that to Dr. Dre. And it was just Dre, Dre, Dre, Dre, Dre. And then Em started doing beats, and it was Em and Dre. And then now, it’s just like he’s open minded. Not to spill the beans, it’s a lot of people submitting songs. From what I’ve heard it’s just him and Dre right now, but I know he’s always listening to beats. We’re fans of a lot of different people, and Em is someone that’s always been on his own island. I think he’s seeing the world. It’s a blessing to come through what we came through and he’s just experiencing life to the fullest, so he’s just listening to anybody that’s sending him great music really.

MIHH: So what was it like working with him when it’s just you guys as opposed to working with him when it’s you and D12?
It’s kind of like taking a step to the past but then taking a step forward. Like, I’m a better producer than I’ve put forth. Like let’s say…I’m not a big mouth muthafucka. So I’m not about to run out here and say I’m this and I’m that. I know who I am, so I’m content when it comes to me producing for people who are able to have a conversation with me to see my talents. But with him it’s like, “Hey, I got beats.” I’m still giving him beats every week. But to me it’s like me and him doing what we’ve always done. You know, it was always that way. Through the years, it was harder I felt because he was hearing me in a different light, because he was going through so much shit. But I was even unaware of some of the things he was going through. When he explained it to me, I broke down into tears… this is my friend, and we just lost our other brother, and I didn’t even know he was going through all this shit.

…I was like “Damn, what do I got to do to prove to him that I’m dope?” So it’s always been that way. Ever since we were kids I was I like, “I gotta show him that I’m just dope.” I always felt like I had some shit to prove, but it was great because I was able to come in and say, “This is the idea that I think.” And then when I would get the song back, it was a totally different song. … It was really fun, man, because I’m still learning. He’s always teaching me some shit though, that’s what I love about our relationship. He trusts what I say. When it comes down to it, he believes that I’m dope. But we’re friends, so sometimes we ain’t even talkin’ about music, we’re talking about some other crazy shit. So to sit there and actually be able to work on a song, and then, he’s got me working out with him everyday. I told him, “I want to be fully dedicated to the things that I need to. Because I see that you’re in a different place—like Slim Shady with a new second wind, or Marshall Mathers with a new second wind, or Eminem with a new second wind.” So this is my opportunity to stand by his side like I’m supposed to.

MIHH: It’s been a few years since Proof passed. Where’s the group at? Whether it’s emotionally or music wise, where are you guys at?
It’s been a long, long road. It’s still never going to be adjusted to. … For me personally, I can only speak for me. I’ve had a moment of clarity just through that. You know, after Proof died I ended up in the hospital. Never really had medical issues, and I ran into a brick wall. In that time, I felt like the only way for me to get over it was doing music, ‘cause I didn’t do any music. The only thing I was working on at the time was Pharoahe Monch’s album, and that was the year prior so I was just finishing it. I was a zombie myself it was Jay Dee, then Proof. J Dilla was like a mentor to me because that was the only inspiration. I don’t know what the next move is because I don’t want to be the person that says, “Hey let me just take everything in my own hands and let’s do this, and let’s do this,” because that doesn’t feel right to me. And the only person that could do that was Proof. And the moves that people make, they have to be great moves. They can’t just be moves out of any sort of desperation or just being lost.

So I want to proceed and keep rolling, but I really don’t know. I haven’t been in that mind state. It’s just been about me trying to get myself together because I’ve created other avenues for myself, so D12 wasn’t the only thing I was going to do. So when the guys were there, and they weren’t really doing anything, I was moving. You know what I mean? I was always moving. I was always getting into something. So when they were ready, I’m like ‘I got so many things going on. I can’t run out to be on tour. I can’t do this, or I can’t do that’. So it’s been a tough thing for me because it looks like, “Oh, he don’t care.” That’s not the case. It’s just that I was already moving, and when they started moving again with the tours and mixtape, I was already obligated to a lot of things.

MIHH: You’ve also replaced Proof as Eminem’s hype man, right? So talk about how big those shoes are to fill and what you’ve learned from him that you incorporate when you’re rocking with Em.
Well, for one it’s never filling the shoes for me. It’s stepping up and taking on the responsibility. I think I’m the only person that [Eminem] felt could do it, because we had already done it before. Before, when he was doing Slim Shady, it was naturally there cause it was me and Brigade opening up for him, so it was natural to do it. But I can’t fill Proof’s shoes; it’s just a responsibility that I have to do. What I incorporate though, our voices and tones are the same somewhat, so it’s easy to match his voice. It’s easy to catch certain punches, certain words. But I could never do what Proof was doing. His energy was ridiculous. That’s why my ass is losing weight now, because I’m trying to move at least a little bit more. But I think the movement is a little different, we’re still getting the hang of it ourselves. But the more we’re doing it, the more comfortable we’re becoming. And people seem to be happy with it. Like, we’re always gonna miss that place where Proof is, because that’s Proof’s place. So I just pray before we go on stage, and we both pray and we do what we got to do. And we get off and analyze what we do, and we go from there. Like, we work out every day at the same time.

We’ve got a show coming up in October, the Voodoo Fest, where there are a lot more songs. This will be the real test, because we’re going to be doing the show. The energy is there though. We’ve got a lot of good energy and I’ve been known to get the crowd into things, so we’ll see what happens. We’re taking things one step at a time, that’s why he didn’t jump straight into a tour. He doesn’t know if that’s what he wants to do. But the more we get out here, I’m sure it will turn into something good. I would never try to fill Proof’s shoes. They’re just too, too huge. I would have to lay my body in one shoe. But I can wear mine, and be the little brother like I’ve always been. I’m the little brother. It’s Proof, Em, then me. So I’m the little guy who kind of grew into it. Now it’s like “Oh, now he can do it. He knows what he gotta do.” Or, “Yo I need you to do this.” And I’m like, “Cool.” It’s not a question. The only competition we have is for me to do my job, to make sure that he feels like that was dope. So every show, I’m like, “Was that ok? What did I miss?” I’ll watch it myself to get better and better. And the shows have been really dope. Like, we’ve really been doing a good job. … When he asked me to [be his new hype man], it was tough. Me wearing a lot of different hats already and being taught the right way, I stood up to the challenge and was like, “I’m never going to leave your side. You’re my nigga.”

Be sure to tune in next week for Part 2, where Mr. Porter talks about learning from Dr. Dre, J Dilla, Proof and Eminem. In the meantime, click here to follow Mr. Porter on Twitter.


  1. S Friedman says:

    He didnt talk about the tracks he stole.

    September 23rd, 2009 at 7:23 am

  2. TRPLEBLK says:

    What Tracks?

    September 23rd, 2009 at 2:01 pm

  3. S Friedman says:


    September 23rd, 2009 at 9:01 pm

  4. Harmfull says:

    Dude got heat. Is he still in D-12?

    September 24th, 2009 at 3:21 pm

  5. Nisarg says:

    Very dope thang, Ketchums. Good job

    September 29th, 2009 at 10:31 am

  6. Byrd B%[email protected] says:

    U see, Its dumb [email protected] like U (S Friedman) who did know what the f%ck they talkin about….Knew the actual truth b4 U open U mouth retard….The dude the tryed 2 sue Mr Porter stole music from him over a arguement….Lied and said that he made the beat….When Mr Porter actually made P.I.M.P.

    October 3rd, 2009 at 6:07 pm

  7. Interview Mr. Porter « "le Hip Hop sur écoute" says:

    […] Interview Part.1 – Interview Part.2 – Interview Part.3 […]

    October 11th, 2009 at 7:32 am

  8. Mr. Porter Reveals Lessons from Dr. Dre & Eminem - Aftermath Music says:

    […]    Mr. Porter Reveals Lessons from Dr. Dre & Eminem    Oct 11th, 2009 | By admin | Category:    D12, Shady Artists        Michigan Hip Hop delivers a three part interview with Detroit producer Mr. Porter (D12, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Pharoahe Monch) that covers his development as a producer, selling his first beat, valuable lessons learned from Dr. Dre and Eminem, and much more. Interview […]

    October 11th, 2009 at 1:45 pm

  9. tom says:

    Where is part 2 and part 3?

    November 4th, 2009 at 5:39 am

  10. #MusicMondays - Michigan Hip-Hop 2010 Preview (Part 2) | the urbane life says:

    […] exorcize demons from his years as a drug addict, but its sequel is a different story. According to this interview with friend/producer Mr. Porter, Relapse 2 will feature Eminem working in brand new conditions: […]

    January 25th, 2010 at 12:49 pm

  11. Mr. Porter Interview – TheMusicProducerBlog says:

    […] Read it here October 9, 2009 by dreyproducerblog Tag: Producer Interviews […]

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