From: Toledo, Ohio
1) Your track “Check In” has been heating up the ‘net. Tell me about the making of the beat and recording of the song.
Well, with that beat, it just kinda took on a life of its own. The beat was originally titled ‘General Made’, because of where I got the sample. I won’t say exactly what it is, but if you knew, you’d understand why. It was this one little part I heard and it just caught me. It sounded so monstrous. So I started messing around with it, et voila. The way the strings where screeching, I knew it deserved some really harsh drums.
I eventually sent that, along with a bunch of other beats, to Theo. He hit me up later like ‘Yo, I think I have something for that ‘General Made’ joint.’ I was excited right out the gate because I wanted to see where he would take it. About a week or so later, he hit me up again; ‘I’m going to record the joint on Monday.’ Now this was the day before I left for the One Stop Shop, so I’m already amped about that.
Come Monday morning, I get another message; ‘I’ll have it the track to you later on.’ Mind you, I’m in Phoenix, so it’s mad early in the morning. Later that evening, I finally land back home. I turn my phone on as the plane pulls to the gate. And, you know, you get that wave of messages you missed because you can’t have your phone on in flight. Sure enough, I get an email with the subject ‘Checkin’ In’. Now I’m scrambling trying to claim my bag, then find an outlet to plug my laptop into, all before my ride comes to pick me up. I found an outlet in a corner, opened the email and boom. I know people were looking at me like I was crazy because I was sitting indian-style in a corner, headphones on, shaking my head.
The song was everything I imagined it could be and more. If you know Theo, then you know he’s really cool and laid back. He doesn’t drink or smoke. But for him to black out the way he did was just insane. The response has been great from all types of people. Because of that, Theo and I are working on a full-length project right now. This is the resurrection of the ‘one emcee, one producer’ era. You have Blu & Exile. You have Torae and Marco Polo. Now you’ll have Theo & $port. We’re working on the strategy as we speak. It’ll be dropping in August.
2) You were one of the few and proud at the One Stop Shop Conference this year. What did you learn from that experience?
Honestly, the one main lesson I learned was that I don’t need a beat battle or showcase to validate what I’m doing. When the main battle came around, I actually had to leave the room because I was so upset. To see people who I consider legends and my heroes all nodding and going crazy to all this music that wasn’t mines just lit a fire under me. As a producer, you’re always thinking that you have it and you want to press play for everybody in the world.
So I was angry about not being able to show and prove. But I was a winner anyway. Turns out, I spent the entire weekend building with none other than Just Blaze, Matt Fingaz and Paul Cantor. We all ate dinner together both nights, and while doing that I was able to fortify some seriously great bonds with both Gooch (Paul Cantor) and Just. I learned so much just from listening. A lot of the conversation wasn’t even about music at all. Hell, we were talking about sneakers and turns out Gooch was filming the whole thing one night as Just gave me props on the kicks I was wearing that night. The footage ended being all over the blogs! I had people hitting me up like, ‘Did I just see YOU and JUST BLAZE talking about Nikes??!’
There was one moment that stuck with me. We were all chillin’ out and I just happened to be ranting about not being in the battle. Gooch told me straight up, ‘Yo, you don’t need to be in a f*cking battle!’ He was absolutely right. I walked away with memories and connections that some of my peers would give a kidney for. Plus, when I stepped off the plane, Theo had a bomb planted in my inbox.
3) What did you start making beats on and what are you using now?
When I was about 15, I started using a game for the Playstation, MTV Music Generator. It was a pretty dope game. You could sample and it had some decent sounds for what it was. I guess I was indirectly preparing myself. Eventually, my older brother Kev had bought a Yamaha Motif and a MPC 2000XL. That was the setup for a while. Once he left the house, I was stuck. A friend of mines was always telling me how Reason was so great and how I needed to get with that. I finally took his advice. Now everything I do is done in Reason. Everything is right in front you and I’ve found a great workflow. I am going to get another MP soon. That’s my first love.
4) What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in the studio and how did you fix it?
I’m still making mistakes. That’s the beauty of the craft, there’s always room for improvement. I will say that the biggest mistake I’ve made is trying to do what somebody else was doing in one way or another. It took me a second to find my own lane. Once I did, I just ran with it.
From a technical standpoint, the biggest mistake I’ve made was on the mixing side. I had to learn the hard way that the way the track sounds is so crucial. I had to learn what it means to listen with fresh ears. I had to learn what translation is. Like I said, I’m still learning. It’s a process, but it’s coming along.
5) If you could ask your favorite producer one question what would it be?
If I had to pick ONE question at this very moment?? That’s not fair, J. I would probably ask Dilla just how he did it with ‘Time: The Donut of the Heart’. I’ve listened to that beat hundreds of times and each time feels like the very first. For him to do that like he did, he made me realize that I have so far to go.
6)” Sax Blue and Yellow” is dope. What’s the story behind that beat?
I’m a huge fan of A Bathing Ape. All of my friends will tell you that. It’s to the point where I don’t feel that my outfit is complete unless there is at least of piece of Bape involved. That particular beat was a part of a small EP dedicated to A Bathing Ape I had put out some months ago. Sax Blue and Yellow is actually a color combination that Bape uses often in clothes and shoes. When I heard that sample, I just saw those colors, hence the title. It’s kinda weird, but that’s the honest truth!
7) Why the name Sport?
It’s funny because the name is really a remnant of my old rapping days. Years and years ago, I wanted to rap. I know, what was I thinking, right?? But I wanted to rap, and would call myself ‘Shine’. Then Shyne came out, so I had a problem. I added ‘Sport’. Shine Sport. I got smarter and quit rapping and calling myself Shine. All that was left was Sport and some beats. The dollar sign was just me being silly about it, but it worked. Everybody knows me by $port. It’s not hard to forget. It’s succinct. I’m not changing, either! It’s too late for all that.
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