Deniro Farrar had a lot going against him. He was incarcerated a few years ago, he’s from Charlotte, which has never produced a prominent figure in rap, and he had two kids by two different women in the span of four months. The latter may have been enough for others to quite the pursuit of a dream and get a steady job to support their offspring. But one listen to the gravelly, baritone voice of the 24 year-old and its clear that his calling is rap. Cult Rap, to be exact. Farrar has pioneered what he deems a new genre in hip-hop, which focuses on soul-baring introspection, without much concern for material objects. That may not be enough to set him apart from other soulful rappers, but his left-field production is jarring and attention-grabbing. Working with the likes of internet darlings Blue Sky Black Death and Ryan Hemsworth, Ferrar has carved out his own niche lane and is hell-bent on demolishing any road bumps along the way.
RESPECT. caught up with Farrar to discuss Cult Rap, the Rebirth EP, his comparisons to Charles Manson, as well as his brother being locked away on attempted murder charges. Read on and stream the EP at the bottom.
You have a habit of making everyone at your shows put their hands together in a prayer. It’s a pretty striking image. How important is it to put on a memorable and exciting live show?
It’s just automatic, to be completely honest. Every time I come out and do a show I feel like I make that type of impact. It’s important. Everyone’s become accepting of shows not really being shows. They just come to hear the music. So what if they actually get a live show? It really sticks with people. That’s what I’m giving them every time: I’m giving them that show and the music and the pain I actually put in.
Tupac seems to be one of your biggest influences. What was it about him that you connected with so much?
I love Tupac’s music. He’s my favorite artist, for sure, but it’s not even the music that connected me to Tupac, it’s the kind of person he was. His birthday is two days before mine. His is June 16, I’m on the 18. We’re both Geminis. I feel like the mindset of Tupac was just crazy. Where I’m at mentally, that’s exactly where he stood. I connect to him on more of a mental level. As far as the music goes, nobody influences the music I make. That’s solely based off of my life. It’s all facts. When I hear other rap music today, a lot of people are sounding alike. I don’t have any type of influence other than my life.
In the past, you’ve said that you write 4-5 songs a day to perfect your craft. Do you still do that?
Not as much. I got two kids, man. I’m definitely still writing a lot, though. My only goal is to move towards the perfection side of my craft. Songwriting is a big part of what I do. Some days I have that spurt where I can write three songs and some days I may do one. Some days I may not be in the creative space to write at all. But my kids take up a lot of my free time when I got them. I got my son right now.
Kids are priority number one, for sure.
Most definitely, bro. This is what I do it for, so I can’t abandon that responsibility. You gotta have a good balance with everything, though. Balancing your career and still being a good father.
On “Tired,” off the EP, you talk about never keeping a job and always getting fired. What was your worst job?
Working at TGIFridays. I was the host. What’s crazy is, I was the fry cook and I got fired and I moved to Virginia and I came back and they hired me again as the host because they had no fry cook. It was the worst job because I didn’t even want people to know I fucking worked there and now I gotta stand right at the door. Girls I used to date would come in on dates, I’d see people I went to high school with and I’m working at TGIFridays and shit. I dropped out of school in ninth grade and thought I was gonna do something really big with my life and people would tell me the same thing, like, ‘This nigga dropped out of school to work at TGIFridays.” That was the worst job I ever had. I hated that shit, man.
When I see females I went to high school with now that I’m doing my thing — because I’m the biggest rapper in my city — so running into those females now is crazy. They’re like sick when they see me now.
You’ve mentioned how a lot of music we hear today won’t be listened to in ten years. What’s the one song of yours you’d want people to still be listening to decades from now?
Oh, god damn, man, that’s crazy. That’s a hard question. “So Many Days Go By” is one of those songs that I get an immediate reaction any time somebody plays that. That shit’s so catchy and so crazy. It’d probably be that.
Explain “Cult Rap” to those who might be unfamiliar.
Well, first off, I just want to let people know it’s a genre. I’ve created another genre of music. You have Hip-Hop, you have Trap Rap, you got Cloud Rap, Swag Rap, and then there’s Cult Rap. It’s a movement. It’s a genre of rap that’s substance-based. It’s music with an original message. I feel like all of the music from back in the day started with an original message. LL Cool J brought that shit out, talking about chains and muscles and shit, but before that the music had real substance. Not to say that his music didn’t, but earlier on it was real. Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane — people don’t even realize Big Daddy Kane never even cursed in his music. That’s substance for your ass, right there.
The only other rapper I can think of that’s had that “cult” tag put on him would be Tech N9ne, but he’s always shied away from it. You fully embrace it and even compare yourself to Charles Manson. Why?
Just imagine if he did everything in a positive light. The impact he could have had on the world. I was having a conversation the other day when I was at the gym and this dude was like, “I don’t see a lot of rappers at the gym, but I guess that’s part of your whole Cult thing. You incorporate discipline into your cult because most people are out getting fucked up. You don’t smoke or drink. That’s crazy. Imagine the type of impact you’re gonna have once you get to the next level. How many kids lives you’ll probably change based on the fact that you don’t smoke or drink. They’ll probably incorporate that into their lives, too.”
That’s crazy because I never thought about that but it’s actually true. Rap has a major influence and impact on today’s society and youth and everything. I’m ready to do some real impactful shit.
The Manson story turns very dark as we all know, but to focus on a lighter portion, he hopped in a van with a bunch of disciples and traveled cross country. If you had to do that, who would you pick as your traveling partners?
Damn [laughs]. I would pick Francesca. She actually has a really big blog called HeyFranHey. I would pick her, she’s one of the most positive people out there. I’d definitely take my manager. He’s so fucking funny. We share the same humor. My brothers, I’d take them. My cousin. And definitely Tupac since this is a hypothetical situation [laughs].
How’s your brother?
He’s good, man. That one line on the Rebirth EP (“Ain’t wrote my brother in a month / but I’m always texting with these hoes”), when I actually wrote that song, that’s where he were. I hadn’t talked to him in a while. It becomes hard to continue to give encouraging words — even though you still should — to somebody who realizes that their life is in the hands of someone else because of a mistake they’ve made. It’s hard to tell somebody, “Hold your head up. You’ll be home soon,” when they’re facing a fucking murder charge and attempted murder charge. He’s only twenty years old. It’s like, how the fuck do you tell somebody that? They don’t wanna hear that shit all the time. I don’t even know what to say a lot of the times I’m on the phone with him. It’s crazy. I can’t even explain it. He’s in a better space certain days and I’m sure the days I don’t hear from him it’s because he’s in a negative space and he don’t wanna put that on me. He’s holding on, though. He’s stronger than a lot of people probably predicted, being only twenty.
I’m sure that weighs on you a lot. How has him being locked up affected your music?
It definitely put a serious fire under my ass. My sense of urgency to attack the game? Bro, I have zero remorse for any rapper that I’m gonna kill along the way. I got a real mission. A lot of these niggas, I don’t even feel in this game because I feel like the reason they’re in it is selfish. I got a real reason and it put that fire under my ass. I kill all these songs I’m on, I approach it with confidence and dedication. It’s all because of [my brother] and my kids. I listen to my old shit before he was even incarcerated and it was dope, I’ve always made dope music, but the shit that I’ve been making? I call him and spit verses for him and he tells me it gets better every time he hears something from me. I just put my heart in that shit and I attack it.
Let’s talk about Rebirth. I know projects like Patriarch II were recorded during some really dark times in your life. What was the recording process like with this?
A lot of people think that, man. Patriarch II wasn’t even dark like that. It was my life at that time. I just hate when people think my music is dark. I don’t wanna subject my fans to that.
Well maybe you don’t want to use that word, but there’s a lot of real life shit on there.
Right. But [the darkness] isn’t what I want people to get from it. I just want them to hear the authenticity and hear the story because this shit is real life. But I’m in a much better space right now. The Rebirth EP was the end of all of that dark phase that people felt I was going through. Rebirth is the last of that. That’s me getting it out of my system. Rebirth is almost like a confessional EP. I just got everything out of my system. The next project I come out with, it’s still gonna have the same subject matter, but the records will be different. It’ll have more feel-good records and more creative records. I’m just opening up and giving them my different styles.
“Hold On” featuring Child Actor is a big standout record on here, to me. What’s the song you’re most proud of on this EP?
I love “Hold On,” that’s a good ass record. It’s fucking crazy. Well, it’s the whole first track, because the intro runs into “Hold On,” so that’s my favorite track.
And even “Notice,” where you show single mothers how much you appreciate them. What made you do that song?
I was getting my hair done before I flew to LA, and my homegirl was telling me, “You should have a record to uplift women. No rapper’s doing that shit. You really put me in the mindset of Tupac. Nobody’s making that kind of music.” And I was like, well, ok. I didn’t leave there like, “I’m gonna have this record on my new EP.” It just came about when I wrote it and it was so crazy. I knew when I wrote it that it was going to be a big record.
So if Rebirth was the end of that phase, have you started work on a new project?
I’m already working on music for an LP right now. I was in the studio in LA and they told me, “Deniro, you should just always make music.” That’s why I’m in the habit of making so much music. They were like, “continue to make music so that when it’s time to drop the LP, you won’t have to go into the studio.” I’ll have so much music that when the LP comes I can just select what records I want and maybe write a few new ones. But you never want to start an LP because it’s LP time. It’s LP time all the time. But I’ll be dropping an EP with Ryan Hemsworth first.
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