Mr. Porter Interview Part 2 – Learning From Legends

September 30, 2009

RESIZEdenaun-porterAn old adage says that it takes a village to raise a child, and Detroit producer Mr. Porter has had a supporting cast that Hip Hop heads would die for. Legendary producer Dr. Dre, hometown hero and game-changing producer/emcee J Dilla, GOAT emcee candidate Eminem, and superstar/rap mogul 50 Cent have all lent their expertise to Porter, who is on his way to becoming a legend in his own right with his solid discography (Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Royce Da 5’9″) and budding business savvy (working with music equipment company Open Labs). In Part 2 of his interview with MichiganHipHop, Mr. Porter talks about selling his first beat to Dr. Dre, and recounts lessons learned from his Hip Hop mentors.

MIHH: Now you were saying that it was a long process to convince Eminem that you were dope. What was the process like to convince Dr. Dre that you were dope?
[Laughs] That happened on its own. The teachers that I’ve had go from Proof to Jay Dee to Eminem to Dr. Dre…shit, sometimes even to 50 Cent. It’s a great story, I really should make a movie out of my life. We was in the studio working on something, and I played Dre some beats I was using for a skit. And he was like, “What the fuck is that beat?” I was like, “Oh I just made that for a skit.” And he was like, “You just made that beat for a skit? You have some more shit?” I went home and made a CD of some shit. Then we ended up going to Australia, and when we got there someone called my phone at like six in the morning and shit. And this lady was like, “Hey, Dre would like to speak to you.” I’m like, “OK, whatever. Fuck y’all. It’s too early for this shit.” So I hung up the phone. Then she called back and was like, “The phone got disconnected.” And I was like, “No it did not. I hung up because y’all bullshittin’.” And I’m sleepy as fuck, because I know we gotta get up and do something in a couple of hours. I’m like, “Come on Proof, quit playing.” [laughs]

So then I’m talking to Dre, and he’s like “What’s up?” I’m like, “Oh shit, what’s up?” I still don’t believe it. [laughs] I had given him a CD that only had ten joints on it, and he’s like “I want seven of those beats.” I’m like, “You want seven beats? Yeah, OK, cool. Where you want them at?” Just being sarcastic and shit. And he’s like “Nah, for real, I want seven of those beats you gave me.” So I’m like, “Wow! OK. You like all of those?” So he said “How much you going to charge me?” I’m like, “Well shit, I never sold a beat, so…$2,500.” And he was like, “What? Nobody does $2,500 no more. I’ll give you $15,000 a beat.”

MIHH: Hold up. So the first beat you ever sold was to Dr. Dre?
Yeah, that was the first beat I ever sold.

MIHH: [Laughs]
When I first went out to start selling beats, I knew I was dope back then. Because Proof used to diss me all the time, and was like “Yo, you’re drums are whack. They gotta sound like this.” And Em was like, “Yo we gotta get drums like Jay Dee. We gotta do this, this and that.” And I started focusing on that so much. But I didn’t know I was good like that. I was like, “OK, I make beats for D12 and Em from time to time, and whatever.” You know, my biggest goal was making a beat for Proof [laughs]. And Jay Dee was like ‘Is this nigga dope?’ because that’s what Proof told him. And then I got to meet Jay Dee, and then I met Pete Rock. But I didn’t think I was no good. I never played Pete Rock a beat. I played Jay Dee some shit. Then Dre was like, “Yo!” So the first beats I ever sold were to him. And ever since that day, I’ve been consistently able to give beats to people and it’s always been something special in it for them, even if it’s for a hard artist. Sometimes, making a great song for the artist is making a great song for the fan. So that’s the lane that I’ve been in, and I’ve been able to stay in for seven or eight years now.

And I’ve still never went out there and really mashed, man. Like, I’ve still never done that. Not because I’m scared to, but just because I’m so humble. My parents raised me to be that way. So I’m not fin’ to go out there and be like, “Man I can do what these niggas is doing. This shit is bullshit.” I learned how to do beats that are totally different than this. So that was the first time I sold a beat and I’ve been going ever since. Everything happened for me at the beginning of everything, when it was the D12 tour and the Eminem tour.

MIHH: You said that you’ve had some great teachers, so talk about some of the different things that you’ve learned from specific teachers that you’ve had.
I learned not to be a hot head, a long time ago, and I still use that [laughs]. I speak my mind real quick, but you can’t be a hot head and talk to some of these people like you want tobecause you’ll mess up your business. That was one of the main things I learned. But in the studio, just being able to check yourself, and not think that you’ve just got it. I wrote a hook for a song we’re working on now, then I brought the writers in and I was like, “You know what? I think y’all should write the hook.” I worked so hard on the beat, but I’m not in love with it. I think I’ll be in love with it if the right hook is there. So I’ll give people an opportunity to write something to it and write for me, if that’s the case.

What I learned from Dre is…I’ll listen to a song that I’m doing and the beat is incredible, and then I’ll listen to the song, and I’ll say, “Man I want to say this, or I want to say this.” It’s easy for me to say, “Hey Royce, why don’t you write this for me?” I know how to step back and let people critique me. Not have such a big ego. I learned that from Em. If I tell Em, or if Dre tells Em, “You should probably do this, that and that,” he’ll listen to it. He’ll take it into consideration. Sometimes it will take him a day, but he’ll come back and say, “You’re right. I think I want to change it.”’ Or, “You know what? That’s a great idea. I tried it but it didn’t work.” So, you know, it’s a humbleness [sic] to it, just being able to have good people around you that you can listen to.

Jay Dee, man I don’t know where to start with him. Like, I’ve learned so much shit just watching him and listening to him. Not even being in the same room, but once or twice, I was able to sit there and watch him make a beat. Man, it was like in The Matrix, when they was plugging Neo up and he was just swallowing information. I can’t even begin with him. Dre, I learned sonic correctness. I know how to make my shit sound like it’s from 1989 or I know how to make it sound like it’s from 2089. I know how to make sounds that people ain’t never heard. I know how to make things sound huge, I know how to make them sound small. I know how to sonically bind to whatever I’m doing. If 9th Wonder gave me a beat and I say, “I want to add this to it, but keep the hidden elements,” I know how to do that and keep his elements so he would say “Yo, this is dope.” I’ve learned all of those things, like so much more. Em is still teaching me syllables when it comes to writing and shit. I’m still watching him when I get rhymes from him. I take shit from him all the time. 50 Cent’s marketing: I’ve started two or three different companies, or two or three business ventures because sitting in the room and listening to him talk. And the way that he thinks, we’re thinking all the time, all of us. We’re always thinking; I just happen to be the quietest guy in the room. I started a sound design company and I make sounds for Open Labs, which has a new keyboard called a Miko, which is catching up now. I used to own 30 to 40 keyboards you know, 3000, 2000, 1000 whatever. Now I got one machine. So I make sounds for them and I market those sounds to the right companies and software companies, and now I’m rubbing elbows with them just from watching 50. You know, hearing how to market myself. But they don’t even know all the things that I get into. You know, I’ve scored a movie before. Shit, I’ve done things with clothes.

I do stuff that’s on my level where I’m comfortable, but I take things that I’ve learned from them and apply it to the small things in my life. You can be a huge person in a smaller version of life, so it’s just how you look at it. I don’t come out and say I got to be the next 50 Cent, or the next Timbaland, or the next Dr. Dre. I say I’m going to be me. And while I’m being me, some day something huge is gonna happen where I ain’t gotta have a mouth so big, or wear certain clothes, or wear this kind of hat, or this kind of haircut, or fuck this broad. People are just going to say when they look at my record, if you go back and really look at it, “Wow! This nigga went from shit to sugar and from sugar to shit, and back and forth, and done a lot of shit without saying.” Because I was taught that way. The loudest nigga in the room is the most insecure, and ain’t shit insecure about me. I’m really comfortable, but I’m not content. I wake up every morning and think, “It’s not enough.” I just did 30 to 40 joints in the last two or three months—it’s just beats, or hooks, or whole songs, and it’s not enough. … I just don’t need to scream and shout it. I ain’t gon’ trick people and say, “I’m the best.” I’m gon’ let them say, “Wait a minute. You did what? Wow! Really? Yo this dude is great.” I’d rather it happen that way, because then I don’t feel so uncomfortable when they say, “You’re the best ever’. When people say that, I appreciate it and humbly accept it, but I’ve got a long way to go.

For Part 1 of the Mr. Porter interview, in which he speaks on his professional and personal bond with Eminem, click here. Be sure to tune in next week for Part 3, where Mr. Porter talks about staying versatile, and future records for Pharaohe Monch, Royce Da 5’9″, and his group D12. In the meantime, click here to follow Mr. Porter on Twitter.


  1. » Mr. Porter Interview Part 3 – Checks And Balance says:

    […] has compiled quite the discography for himself since Dr. Dre gave him his first check for a beat (click here). His catalog isn’t only admirable because of the heavyweight names that it includes, but because […]

    October 7th, 2009 at 3:03 am

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

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

    October 11th, 2009 at 7:33 am

Leave a comment