Rarely does one encounter a soul like Derrick B. Harden. Raised on the streets of Brooklyn, he is truly a master of his own destiny. He needs no wind in his sails for he is fueled by an innate drive that is unfounded in most. Currently the star curator at Lyons Weir Gallery, Harden is a modern day renaissance man. To called him a curator by day and a rapper by night would be an understatement because he is often both at once. Harden has no lane; he has no niche. He claims no school of thought because he is a student of life in general.
Performing under the pseudonym, Dear Derrick & the Band, Harden’s current project, Porn 4 Born, is a brilliant mixture of reckless abandon, artistic merit and raw raps. Harden’s rhyme style is purposefully clumsy–in a sense that he continues to drop gems as if they were not morsels of precious rhetoric. He is a stuttering AK-47 that riddles holes into false prophets and unrighteous regimes.
Despite his perceived “reckless abandon,” everything thing that Harden does is a calculated power move. In a way, he is an open book of cryptic scripture. When you think of the title, Born 4 Porn, your mind goes elsewhere; but if you knew Harden, you would know that it is far more than what the title offers. I had the pleasure of spending the last two months with Derrick and when I say that you have to be in the presence of this man in order to understand the brand of genius, I mean it.
In late August, Harden and I met at The Cupping Room to talk about his latest project Born 4 Porn, his relationship with rap music, and his company, Only Popcorn. Located on West Broadway, the warmly lit cafe was a known dwelling for many great art icons. Now a second home to Harden, the cafe welcomed us with open arms. Complimentary grub before us, we immediately began chopping it up.
Tell us about your past/present relationship with rap music?
“Rap music represents my neighborhood; my neighborhood represents rap music. Its part of where I come from. That’s why I do it. My sister loved rap music, my brother loved rap music, my community loves rap music, so I rap. I have no choice – farmers harvest wheat, I harvest literature for the street.”
How did the Born 4 Porn project come about?
“Born 4 Porn came about in a night club while watching this stripper chick work the pole and my friend says, ‘some of these bitches be born 4 porn’ from that point I ran with it. Developed a concept infused by sex and consumerism – a parody of today’s America where Lindsay Lohan’s personal life gets more media coverage than the country’s health care and unemployment issues – not to mention teen homicide. And we love Lindsay Lohan – I was just listening to a mix of her old albums… Luckily I did not crash. [Laughs] I use mixed mediums to express this concept, such as the art show and the rap album.”
What should the audience expect from Born 4 Porn?
“Nothing but the truth. The nasty truth is what I want in my life, so I hope to reach an audience who consumes and pursues truth.”
Is there anything that you feel is currently missing in rap music? If so, how do you fill that void?
“Nothing is missing. There’s room for multiple styles – they represent something real even if it isn’t my real. In an industry filled with Rick Ross’, that fakeness gives validity to the realness. You need a negative to confirm a positive. It’s just life.”
He breaks the mold of your usual rapper by maintaining an insane sense of duality that allows him to conjure up some of the most intriguing ideas possible. Harden’s ability to hopscotch between Brooklyn bully and art scene mastermind grants him access to a kingdom of endless inspiration.
Tell us about Only Popcorn…
“Only Popcorn is a Brand/Production Company.
It’s first product is “Born 4 Porn”. Also we have an underground Boutique opening up shortly. The shop will be private membership only and carrying NYC most exclusive and rare products. Only Popcorn’s objective is to represent artists of the arts. “
I have never quite met someone like Derrick B. Harden. He is a perfect marriage of wayward troublemaker and seasoned sage. He is unapologetically aggressive with life, giving her what she needs and taking what he pleases. His music only mirrors that fact and his other endeavors are merely brilliant manifestations of it all. Life with Derrick B. Harden is both an unchained mystery and a foreshadowed journey that stands out as one of New York City’s most intriguing stories that is still currently being told.