Catching Up With Dallas' Open Mic Emcee Jesse Porter: "When You Create Different Lanes, Everybody Eats."
Over the course of the past year, Jesse Porter, with the help of CoffeeMusicHub, has been an instrumental part of the local hip-hop scene, providing a platform for talented up-and-comers to flex their skills and gain the notoriety they need. We covered the scene back in September, but these days the open mic, which takes place on the last Tuesday of the month at 2826 Arnetic, has grown into a regular networking hub and often sees club with patrons spilling out onto Elm Street for hours on those Tuesday nights.
We got the chance to catch up with Porter recently, and discussed how he was thrust into a position of power in the local scene, the Cool Beings movement and how that incorporates into the projects Porter's involved in. We also got a chance to discuss one of Porter's upcoming events, Higher Learning, a definitive Dallas rap music showcase happening tonight at The Loft.
Tell me a little bit about how you got involved in the Dallas rap community.
It was a fortunate circumstance. In 2010, I went to a Def Jam Play-N-Skillz party. Bun B was there, Amber Rose was there. On the way out this guy was having some issues with the door guy. I went over to smooth things out and the guy said he appreciated my efforts; it saved him from getting kicked out. And he turned out to be the CEO and founder of AllHipHop.com. He told me to take his number down so I did. I did my research and realized he was a very important man. So I started calling him, for like three months straight. And when he finally picked up he hooked me up with Jake Crates, who's the AllHipHop editor here in Dallas. And that's how I got into the hip-hop scene, period. Through AllHipHop I had the opportunity to see other cities and how they've grown and see other artists and how big they are. And I noticed that, by comparison, our city was quite lacking. I wanted to do something about it.
What was your involvement in the Dallas hip-hop scene up until that point?
I didn't know who was who. I was a fan. I lived in North Dallas. I went to UNT. I listened to DSR [Dallas rap crew Dirty South Rydaz]. I listened to Master P. I just listened to anything that was bumpin' at that time. UGK. Young Money. Cash Money. I was just a true fan of that [dirty South] sound. The influence of hip-hop didn't come until later.
What cities did you notice were doing things you wanted to see happen in Dallas?
Well, Atlanta, of course. They run a circle over there. New York is the capital of hip-hop. New York is still a business. Even when I was in DC, I felt that about Baltimore. And I realized that Dallas was on the path and we were better than all of those scenes, from what I was hearing anyways. So I was like, "Let's see what we can do." Me and my partner Sanjay [Raj from CoffeeMusicHub] just threw a hip-hop [open] mic. That's how we got involved with the Dallas scene. People started coming to something new and fresh, and it built a mass of artists, which led to a fan base. I started bringing special guests, people who could really help some of these artists get from one level to another.
Explain what the Cool Beings movement is.
Cool Beings is where music and fashion lives. It's a cool network where everybody can benefit from each other. Everybody's a leader in their own right. I have a visual artist, Lady Cool Beings. I have dancers from TWU. There's a group called Work In Progress. I have a beautiful model by the name of Saxon Wilson who landed in the Dorrough video for "M.I.A." We have Benny Hundreds. He's our guy at UNT, he's got reach out there with this organization called UNT Live that just launched in spring. We have a pirate, a Russian pirate. His name is Stephon and he just moved out here like a year ago and his fiancée runs a big part of this radio station in Germany.