In the past three years, no other act in hip-hop has controlled the stage, radio or clubs like the trio Travis Porter with their hysteric causing anthems. 21 year old Atlanta natives Lakeem "Ali" Mattox, Donquez "Quez" Woods and Harold "Strap" Duncan have solidified themselves as rap's leaders of the new school, feeding fans with an endless barrage of hit singles and self-released mixtape bangers such as "Black Boy White Boy," "Waffle House," "Get Naked" "Go Shorty Go" and their career turning last three monsters "Make it Rain" "Bring It Back" and "Ayy Ladies."
All the hype from the music critics, all the love from the fans and all the group's hard work all culminates on May 29 with the release of their debut LP From Day 1 on their own Porterhouse/RCA Records.
"The title expresses all of our feelings,' Ali says. "This album is dedicated to everybody-the fans, the DJs, the media--who have supported us, especially those who were there from the very beginning. Those people mean everything to us."
"When we say From Day 1, we want all the fans to know that this project is our album," Strap reinforces. "It's just as much about our fans as it is the members of Travis Porter."
Strap, Quez and Ali have been together with each other almost from day one of their lives.
"For real, I think of us as like a family," Quez explains. "Ali is my stepbrother, I've been knowing him since the third grade. And Strap, I've known him since the sixth grade. I've basically known these guys for as long as I can remember. I can't imagine my life without them in it."
The trio began making music together as adolescences and in 2007, under the moniker "Dem Hard Hiddaz," put out music in the streets and strip clubs.
"Shout outs to Ali's momma," Strap says with a chuckle. "She had a couple of plugs to get us in there. But the feeling of being 16, 17 performing in the strip club, was so surreal. We were performing a hot song late at night, but we still had to go school early the next morning. We'd go to school with all these ones in our pocket. We'd tell our classmates 'boy, you don't know what we did last night!' We were making the music the strippers loved."
In 2008, the three friends changed their named to "Travis Porter" as a nifty way to catch people's attention. It worked. The buzz started growing as more of their music surfaced. Ironically, some fans at first thought "Travis Porter" was just one person instead of a group. All speculation was soon settled as the guys would find one of their strongest platforms of building their fan base; through the internet via hip-hop blogs, YouTube and their own website www.wearetravisporter.com. Viral music videos and footage of their live shows would grow Travis Porter a legion of fans dubbed the "Differenter Gang."
Successful self-released mixtapes I'm A Differenter and its sequel both dropped in 2009 as did their heat building first tape Who Is Travis Porter. Over the last three years, Travis Porter have dropped around a dozen free self-released mixtapes spawning a slew of hit songs, all searing speakers across the country.
"It's funny because some of our fans think From Day 1 is our second or third album," Quez says, "but it's just our first. We just gave away a lot of free music to build our brand and display our consistency. We approached making each mixtape like making a LP. The mixtapes had singles that had videos and got play on the radio and they felt like actual albums. Even though our careers are relatively new, we've been able to build one of the best track records in hip-hop.
"Really, we always let the fans decide our singles," Strap revealed. "We've been catching hits off of mixtapes. It's lovely, but sometimes you don't expect it and have to catch up to the song. The album is definitely going to show a lot of growth from our mixtapes though."
"We've been working on the album for about a year and a half to make sure it's perfect for a while," Ali began to detail. "After we dropped our last mixtape, we were focused. We were gonna drop another mixtape and it came to the point where we just said 'we gotta show these folks.'"
This year, Porter got off to a running start with the club killer "Ayy Ladies."
"The song 'Ayy Ladies' is really a slick way of promoting women empowerment," Strap describes of their mega release. "'Ayy ladies, if you know you bad, got your own man/ Got your own bands/ Then put up your hands/ If you a top notch chick, let me hear you holla.' We're talking about the ladies who are the independent chicks, the top notch chicks who be in the club buying their own bottles. Got their own money. We're talking about those chicks."
"Ayy Ladies" is a collaboration with another of hip-hop's leading emerging superstars, Lil' Wayne's protégé and Young Money signee Tyga.
"We did another record with Tyga called 'Down Low,' on one of our previous mixtapes," Quez explained of how the new song partnership came about. "When we shot the video, people was like 'Travis Porter and Tyga, we never thought about that. It's a good combination.' We had to drop another one. We recorded 'Ayy Ladies' and decided we needed a MC from the West Coast on there. Tyga was taking over the West Coast at the time, with his album dropping. We sent it to him; he was like 'I got y'all.'"
"It took him four months to get it back to us," Ali laughs adding on the story. "But we got it though. We didn't expect for it to be our biggest record, it surprised even us."
Last year, Travis Porter broke through to the masses with consecutive heart stoppers "Make It Rain" and "Bring It Back" The hunger you hear on the records, were indicative of the group's meager but charming recording facilities at the time.
"We made those songs in the closet," Ali tells, smiling as he reminisces on how far he and his group have come in a short time. "It wasn't even in a studio. It really was actually a closet. We did 'Bring It Back First,' went to the club and came back and made 'Make It Rain.' It was my birthday. It was a magical day. We knew those records would go out of the stratosphere because they were inspired by the club. We just recreated that feeling in the studio."
On From Day 1, Travis Porter worked with producers Diplo, Jim Johnson and J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League among other producers. Guest stars include the aforementioned Tyga, 2 Chainz, Mike Posner, Mac Miller and Jeremih, who sings on the album's latest single "Ride Like That."
"'Ride Like That,' is just one of those great records where we have a great time," Strap tells. "Jeremih loves the ladies and they love him. We have a fantastic rapport with the women as well, you can't beat this combination."
The fellas follow-up the mood with vibrating thump in "That Feeling" which celebrates the spoils of their success. Of course the Porter collective continue to supply the soundtrack for throwing the dollars at the dancers on the poles with "Flood That Shit." On the latter, they shout out all the top strip clubs across the country from Magic City in Atlanta to King of Diamonds in Miami.
This summer, Strap, Quez and Ali all head on the road for a headlining tour called "No Sleep Till Atlanta." Evidence of why they have been tapped as one of the best live acts in rap will be on full display.
"We do every show like we are playing game 7 of a NBA championship series," Quez affirmed. "Performing is so important and we just love to go wild. The fans get crazy too. Sometimes ladies get on stage and get naked, but hey, it is all good. Lose your cool and your clothes if you want."
In between dropping their album and readying the tour, Travis Porter will also be working on a yet-to-be-titled film and continuing to cultivate acts off of their Porter House record label.
"We look at artists such as Diddy and Rick Ross who are building their empires. We are trying to do the same thing. Our business is a heavy focus, but luckily there are three of us so we can all divide up responsibilities. At the end of the day though, we are going to continue to hone our craft and keep making everybody that believed in us from day one proud."