I’m from Virginia, where ain’t shit to do but cook, pack it up, sell it triple-price, fuck the books
If the title of Tim Porter’s newest project is at all reflective of his own persona, it packs far more significance than its understated two-word declaration would suggest. For one, it happens to be the answer he would give anyone who asked about its formerly-vague release date:
“Every time I would go to a show, people would ask, ‘When’s your next project, when’s your next project?’ And I would just say ‘Coming soon, coming soon.’”
The 24-year-old Virginia native earned his local following as a laid-back and streetwise Mase in the now-dismantled Richmond-based rap trio Suburban District, whose 2012 album Beer for Breakfast featured underground heavyweights Conrizzle and Nickelus F. However, since striking out on his own, Porter’s career has often seemed rudderless. It’s taken a few solo releases (Please Listen to My Demo, We Will Survive) to find his footing, but in Coming Soon he channels a wave of restless energy into a fountain of self-aware lyricism.
A defiant flow poured over soulful drum beats, the mixtape often subsists off of the sheer grit and intensity of Porter’s delivery, placing him in lockstep with the mainstream rap zeitgeist. But at the same time, a rare sense of homegrown humility distances him from the flashy new-money arrogance of almost every other rapper alive.
Maybe we’ll be local forever
I don’t give a f**k, I’ll be vocal forever
Though he martyrs himself in an attempt to push the envelope, it’s hard not to be appreciative of Porter’s authentic brand in a rap landscape of noticeably diminished lyricism and over-inflated self-image. Instead he is simple, down-to-earth, but with deep insights that beckon listeners to wade deeper into his rhythmic streams of consciousness.
This album is all Tim Porter, no features. Coming Soon makes attempts at radio viability, but it never tries too hard. Porter’s varied flows punctuate nearly every track, often paying homage to his hometown like on the fervent confessional “Mountains” or “Ain’t That Easy,” where he describes the efforts he and his peers have invested into building the city’s rapping scene.
Remaining true to his colors from his days on Suburban’s ‘No Louis V” where he talks about not buying into every fashion trend, Porter positions himself as an evolved rapper in the same thread as Kendrick Lamar and others who feel that their work should carry them, not the logo they have branded across their chest or belt. He makes his stance explicitly clear through the bold expository of “Ghost Recon”:
Who am I to flex in these real times we’re livin in?
We at war with everything, our potential is limitless
Now they realize it and they wanna snipe us down
To the ground, through a chokehold in the blood of Mike Brown
And ya’ll wanna talk about ice, fine
They make them pieces shiny just to leave us all blind
We do anything to get it, committin the worst crimes
Thinkin that’ll cover up the unhappiness in the mind
His sound recalls the efficient production of 90’s golden era of rap, but his sensibility and content seem more inspired by his favorite modern-day rappers which also include Big Sean, Killa Mike and J. Cole. That combination of old-school vibes remixed with new-school spirit is a staple of artists gaining traction in Richmond, including Koncept Jackson and Lyrix Anthony.
For many a local rapper, “coming soon” is the anticipated timeline for a big break that will cast pop culture’s spotlight in their direction. But for Tim Porter, you get the sense that he’s after something a little more substantial than the effervescent glitter of fame. If artistic conviction and unabashed hometown pride are any indication of success, then he may have already found it.
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