I’m from North Carolina, a place not exactly known for our world-changing hip-hop scene. Since the turn of the millennium, we’ve had Petey Pablo, Little Brother, J. Cole, and Driicky Graham. That’s fine. Petey Pablo was futuristic and funky as fuck, Little Brother made us all really psyched about Native Tongues again, even though J. Cole is arguably as much a New York rapper as an NC one having half a rapper on Roc Nation isn’t a bad look, and “Snapbacks and Tattoos” is a banger even if Driicky Graham were to spontaneously combust into a vapor made of pure swag.
The real reason North Carolina rap is gonna be okay is one Deniro Farrar. He might hail from Charlotte, NC, but Deniro’s real habitat is the Internet, working with such progressive producers as Ryan Hemsworth, Blue Sky Black Death, Lunice, and skywlkr. Deniro’s style falls somewhere between the stone-cold gangsterisms of Freddie Gibbs and the progressive ear of Main Attrakionz—Deniro made his Kill or Be Killed EP with Shady Blaze, who’s a member of Main Attrakionz’s Green Ova crew. It is not hyperbole when I say that Deniro might be the most exciting rapper North Carolina has produced in years.
I spoke with Deniro on the phone last month for an interview, discussing his beginnings, his troubled personal life, and how he’s trying to forge a style that he terms “Cult Rap.” As you’ll see, he’s dead-ass serious about making it, and making it ASAP.
How’d you get into rapping?
I’ve always been into rap. I always knew other people’s music like the back of my hand, man. What motivated me was just my mom being on my ass about what I wanna do with my life. And I never knew what I wanted. I just knew that whatever it was I was gonna do, I wanted to like it. Music was the only thing that I could see myself doing, that I could really put some time and effort into, so I ran with it.
I got locked up for some shit a couple years ago. Couple of days before my birthday. I spent a little time in jail and I just really had some time to think about what the fuck I was gonna do with my life when I got out of here. I didn’t wanna go back to what I was doing and I’m really not comfortable working a nine to five. I never liked jobs; I always got fired and shit. And the last time, I just really made my mind up, like “I’ma rap, man.”
How much would you say you’re influenced by North Carolina and Charlotte, like the rap scene there?
Honestly, Charlotte don’t really have a music scene. We don’t really have that identifiable sound. Wale, he got that D.C. lingo; Plies, he got that Florida accent. So I’m really just trying build that from scratch. It ain’t like when people hear my music they go, “Damn, he sound like he’s from Charlotte,” you know what I’m sayin’? We have our own sound, our own lingo, we got our own everything. I’m just trying to bring that to the forefront right now.
Who are some of your favorite producers to work with?
Definitely Ryan Hemsworth, man. I fuck with Ryan Hemsworth. Blue Sky Black Death, Kira, Lunice, Skywlkr, definitely. Nem270, fuckin’ Keyboard Kid. I got so many, man.
Tell me about high school.
I didn’t really fuck with school. I was never big on school, man. I was always just like that guy who came to school high every damn day. I was always very intelligent. I just always had my own way of doing things. I transferred throughout the school system, on my own, you know what I’m sayin’. I was 16, and I would withdraw myself from certain schools and go to the popular schools, just because I wanted to kick it with females and stuff like that. But other than that, I never really liked school.
What about your life right now?
I feel like it’s more fucked up than ever. I got a baby on the way, my little brother got arrested last week, they’re tryna charge him with murder and attempted murder. I rap about him a lot. I’m attacking shit with a sense of urgency. I really wanna get on, like today, and really just help that situation out, because I know it’s gonna take money to really better the whole situation. So now, there’s some sense of urgency that I’m working with right now.
Honestly man, that’s why my music sounds like it does. I’ve been dealing with fucked up shit since Day One. And it gives me more to rap about. It’s more motivation to make it. The significance of the situation is so damn crazy. I gotta get my brother out of there. And I know me going to get some nine-to-five fuckin’ job ain’t gonna do nothing, but rap is an opportunity to live above my means, and be able to provide for my family. I see a lot of these rappers’ get deals just so they could buy new cars and watches and a bunch of bullshit, and it kinda angers me. But I just gotta make it with this shit. That’s it.
What kind of rapper would you say you are?
I would just consider myself a realist. This is Cult Rap. I’m on some Charles Manson shit. I feel like I speak the truth about what I believe in, and people are gonna follow that shit. It ain’t like I’m just saying bullshit. I’m gonna be the Charles Manson of this rap shit. Like Charles Manson and Tupac, if they were to impregnate a bitch at the same time and in some weird way had both of their babies, that would be me. Tupac Manson in this bitch. Definitely gonna take over, this is my year, man, for the music. I definitely want you to quote me when I say that. And shit, free my little brother, man.
Drew Millard is from North Carolina and went to a Waka Flocka concert last night. He's on Twitter - @drewmillard
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