By: Shirley Ju (@shirju)
Harlem is home to some of hip-hop’s biggest names including Cam’Ron, Big L, Jim Jones… and now TJ Porter.
The 19-year-old recently signed to Def Jam’s Undisputed roster, with one mission in life: shooting to win. The former basketball player brings that same hunger and drive from the court into the studio, consistently perfecting his craft and unleashing powerful records for his growing fanbase.
Raised in the Robert F. Wagner Housing Projects, TJ, real name Terrence Reaves recently performed at The Basement Series in Los Angeles.
AllHipHop caught up with the “Harlem” rapper to discuss his favorite producers, favorite Meek Mill song, and his new project Voice of the Trenches.
AllHipHop: Why should people f##k w/ you?
TJ Porter: My music tough. I’m a down-to-earth person. I’m honest, I’m genuine. I don’t make stuff up that I talk about in my music, everything is authentic.
AllHipHop: You’re only 19. When did you start doing music?
TJ Porter: Since 12.
AllHipHop: How did you find your way to Def Jam?
TJ Porter: Start making music, my managers Wayno and L, they chopped it up with me. We were working for about a year, he told me “Def Jam wants to sign you.” Steven Victor and my A&R Rico found me.
AllHipHop: Talk about the versatility from “Harlem” to “Do You Care?”
TJ Porter: I don’t put a ceiling on my career by doing both. A lot of artists only do one, so you might have a person who only does autotune or a person who only raps. If I’m doing both, ain’t no ceiling on my career.
AllHipHop: You say you seen a lot out the trenches. How has music been a form of therapy for you?
TJ Porter: They let me get my emotions out. I be needing that. To have stuff boil up like that will drive you crazy.
AllHipHop: Any features on Voice of the Trenches?
TJ Porter: Just one: Calboy. I didn’t really want no features though. I wanted people to hear more of me than hear other people. Be like “Oh he only got on ‘cause he got a feature.”
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio?
TJ Porter: I don’t know why but I can’t record if nobody around me is smoking. I’ve been around smoke all my life when I’m recording, so it gives me a vibe!
AllHipHop: You don’t like weed?
TJ Porter: It’s not that I don’t like weed, I just don’t smoke. 1) I need people smoking around me. 2) I need constructive criticism. I don’t need no yes men. 3) I need good production.
AllHipHop: Who are some producers you like?
TJ Porter: CashmoneyAP, The Atomix, Beat Butcha. I like a few people.
AllHipHop: Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
TJ Porter: Meek or Future. I f##k with Future heavy.
AllHipHop: Favorite song off Championships?
TJ Porter: “100 Summers.” See, I got this chain ‘cause of him. [shows necklace] That’s my best friend, he got shot in his head. You know how Meek said — he’s talking about Snupe on “100 Summers.” He said, “I put diamonds in yo face so when they see me they see you.” That’s why I got this. I lost him when I was 16.
AllHipHop: Did you move differently after that?
TJ Porter: I was wildin’. I didn’t care about nothing.