Porter Ray Sullivan is an left-field leaning rapper on the front lines of the Seattle Hip-Hop scene. His latest album ‘Watercolor’ tells the heart-wrenching story of his brother Aaron’s murder and his father’s death when he was 16. The LP jumps between conversations with his father, memories with his brother and his own personal asides. Sullivan seamlessly hops from one idea to the next stringing together one idea to the next, and he is sure to be a force to contend with in the Hip-Hop world in the coming years.
You’ve been on tour with Shabazz Palaces for a few weeks now. How has it been touring with them? Have you formed any tour rituals, and have any funny stories come out of the mix yet?
Tour has been a beautiful experience so far. I’ve been learning so much and growing a lot within my artistry and professionalism, and traveling to many places I’ve never been. I’m very grateful for the opportunity. As far as tour rituals go, I rehearse my whole set in the green room before every performance, make sure to pray and raise a toast amongst our crew.
I brought another emcee/good friend along with us. His name is Bruce Leroy. He’s been pure comedy the whole trip. The other night he had a woman singing to us from the Burger King drive thru window. She had a lovely voice, it was absolutely hilarious though.
You had some incredible collabs on ‘Watercolor’ including several features from Shabazz Palaces but if you could work with anyone who would it be and why?
To be honest I’m already working with most of the people that I’ve wanted to my entire life. Being able to work with Seattle legends and my own family and friends is a dream come true. I’m definitely open to working with any like minded artist that wants to collaborate. There’s too many emcees/producers/musicians to name. I’m a fan of everyone. Though, I really wish i could work with The Beatles, my mother and my aunt would go crazy for that. They are Beatles fanatics.
Before you dropped ‘Watercolor,’ we all knew some of your story and the tragedies that have affected you, like the loss of your brother. However, in the album you directly talked about it more than ever before. What brought you to tell this story now?
I specifically wanted to save certain content for the album, especially the more personal and traumatic events that have occurred in my life. In my past projects it was more of me proving that i could rap and honestly, really learning how to rap and perfect my craft. With the album i wanted to make sure that i gave the listener my life story. I want you to feel like we’re having and intimate conversation, and feel like you’re really getting to know me and hopefully understand me.
In ‘Watercolor,’ your narrative style jumps from speaker to speaker seamlessly to tell intricate stories, like in ‘Navi Truck.’ How did this style of storytelling come to you? And who were some major influences to attain this sound?
Nas has always been a major influence on my storytelling. His lyrics were always so vivid. It was like being there, witnessing these events with him. I wanted to be able to paint the same pictures for my neighborhood. Infinite is a legendary Seattle emcee from the Central District. He paints a perfect picture of the city is his raps. I always wanted to emulate him as well. Storytelling has always been a part of rap music though, so growing up and listening to all these emcees in different regions gave me an image of what life was like on different coasts and in different cities.
How has the Seattle scene influenced your music?
In Seattle, groups like Narcotik with emcees such as Tizzy T and C-Note, Infinite and producers like Vitamin D, The Ghetto Children and Tribal Productions helped to cultivate my sound. I always wanted to carry the torch for them, as well as legends like Ishmael, Jimi, Kurt, Mix-A-Lot and Quincy. A lot of great jazz has come out of our city as well as rock obviously. All of these people and their sounds influenced me heavily.
Interview by Giovanni Roca