In the past year, since he signed with Warner Bros-affiliated label Vice, Deniro Farrar released his debut EP, Rebirth; toured the U.S. with fellow rising-star MC Denzel Curry; and has made it clear that he will always be North Carolina’s own. Now that his popularity is surging, however, his home state may have to share the NFL-sized rapper with the world.
BET.com caught up with Deniro during his tour stop in Los Angeles, where he spoke about the future of cult rap, setting his own expectations, and why he says the formula for mainstream success is dead.
BET.com: You’re looked upon as the leader of cult rap, do you feel like that title could limit your mainstream potential?
Deniro Farrar: There’s no limit to what a cult is capable of doing. My music doesn’t have to live up to any certain dogma, like, I’m not this type of rapper or that type of rapper. Cult music is just music with substance that plays on people’s emotions. I don’t really glorify the flamboyant s**t that most people do, and it’s like if people are gonna judge me for that then you gotta judge any rapper with substance at that point.
On Rebirth’s first song (“Rebirth/Hold On”) you talk about needing to make a change in your life and maybe slow down a bit, but now that you have more fame is it harder not to wild out?
I’ve never been into wildin’ out. I just got some s**t at Whole Foods and I almost stole the bag. I didn’t take it though, so. But I ain’t been wildin’ out. I think I’m more reserved now. Especially when it comes to my hometown. I don’t really club or go out. I’m usually with my son. I’ve been off the social scene for a while. The only time I really go out and have fun is when I’m in New York, there are a lot of rooftop parties and s**t, but I’m not one of those rappers that everywhere I go I gotta be on the scene, wildin’ out, poppin’ bottles, f***in’ b****es.
So would you say you feel more comfortable now that your career is really taking off?
I feel more stable. I definitely feel more stable because I got more of a team around me. I feel like everything’s new with the deal including my management. I had my management before I had the deal but everything is still relatively new because my career’s reaching new heights, so I’m growing just as well as my situation. Everything’s growing together. Everybody done took off, man. My boy [producer] Ryan Hemsworth, he’s going crazy right now. Everybody f***in’ goin crazy over Ryan Hemsworth’s s**t right now. I’ve been working with Ryan Hemsworth since early in the game. But overall I definitely feel more stable with my career. I don’t have as many worries as I had when I was an independent artist.
You said before that you did not regret dropping out of school, but now that more time has passed and you’ve experienced more in life, do you still feel the same?
It’s kinda weird but if I knew then what I know now then I would’ve stayed in school, but knowing what I know now I don’t regret doing what I did, if that makes any sense. Because I wouldn’t be who I am today if I would’ve stayed in school, but if I knew what I knew today then I would’ve stayed in school. I was always bright but I wasn’t enthusiastic about learning new s**t because of the methods of teaching. It just didn’t affect me in any type of way, so when I dropped out –– I dropped out in the 9th grade, I was like 15 –– everything, even the way I articulate, was self taught. They don’t teach you life skills in school. They don’t teach you how to talk your way out of an altercation. There’s school knowledge, there’s street knowledge and there’s knowledge of the world. You got to have all three.
Tech N9ne noted on the song “B.I.T.C.H. (Breaking in to Colored Houses)" that many Black fans are hesitant to buy into his music because they think it’s “cultish.” Is that something you ever think about since your style is similar?
No man, like I say I don’t gotta live up to other people’s perceptions like, “Oh I’m a f***in’ Trap rapper all of my fans gotta be dope boys,” and s**t. Music is universal, so the fans are universal. At the end of the day and I tend to think that people accept anything that they see white people f***in’ with. Not necessarily like that, but I look at Waka Flocka. A lot of urban people f**k with Waka Flocka and then once the white community embraced him it took him to a whole other level. You had some people that criticized him, “Oh, he sold out. He got these white fans,” but I’m not even a major artist yet, so this is the fan base I come in the game with, so you gotta accept me how I’m coming. I’m coming with white fans.
So when it comes to your personal goals moving forward, do you think about things from a commercial standpoint?
It ain’t necessarily about commercial because you could go in the studio and try to make commercial music all day. The public decides what’s commercial and what’s not. There are certain songs that I never would’ve thought would’ve gone commercial but they do because the public decides that’s what it is. My mindset is to make the best music possible. There’s no true formula on how to bait people in. Especially in this day and age. Not even how you approach a beat to rap. I hear some of my s**t and I’m like, “Is this a song or a hook?” The formula is dead. It’s a new day and age with music now.
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(Photo: Courtesy Jessica Lehrman/the Chamber Group)