TJ Porter: The Voice of The Trenches

Photo courtesy of SLAM Magazine.

By David Cordova

Throughout the summer of 2018, there were many sounds to be heard around the streetball tournaments in New York City. Especially Uptown, meaning The Bronx or Upper Manhattan.

One of the artists that made his name this year is none other than T.J. Porter. This summer has been a great for him, as he has made his presence felt on the mic & on the basketball court. For him, rap & basketball, go hand in hand. But those are also two things that gave him a safe haven as a youth.

“Just being from the struggle, seeing the things I saw growing up. People around me dying, going to jail. I just ain’t want that lifestyle. It just motivated me to be a better person and grind for what I wanted.”

Porter, whose given name is Terrence Reaves, hails from East Harlem, also known as Spanish Harlem, where he first picked up the game of basketball at a young age. “I’ve been playing basketball since I was 7 or 8. I was playing at Milbank,” said Porter.

On being from Harlem, he added: “In Harlem, it’s good and bad, you gotta know the right people, and stay safe. But, sometimes, it can get dangerous. Other than that, it’s good vibes, all love.”

Porter spent his high school years at Cardinal Hayes High School in The Bronx, one of the premier Catholic high schools in the city, and also well known for their athletic programs, particularly football, baseball, and basketball.

“They teach you discipline, it gets annoying after awhile, but it teaches you discipline,” said Porter of Hayes.

During his time on the varsity team with the Cardinals, Porter was known as a player who was a spark off the bench and was also a good defensive player. During his junior season, he was a part of the Hayes’ team that won the CHSAA city championship for the first time since 2007 (first time on the AA level since 1990).

Porter and his Cardinal Hayes teammates when they won the CHSAA city championship in March 2017 at Fordham University in The Bronx. (Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint)

“It was a good experience with me and my brothers,” said Porter on winning the championship with his fellow Hayesmen, “We was the underdogs all year, and then we won, everybody [the doubters] was sad, they was tight.”

In regards to the summer basketball culture, Porter has been known to frequent many parks and played at many events in the city. When asked if there was one place that stood out to him, he replied, “I like Dyckman, the atmosphere is crazy,”

This summer, following his high school graduation, he was featured in a Nike commercial, which follows him playing ball on the asphalt and also shows him in a recording studio, doing what he does best on the mic. When asked about the Just Do It commercial, he replied, “The Nike commercial was a great experience, I appreciate Nike and everything they do for me.”

Porter has his own movement, We Gon Ball, which basically means, “we’re gonna make it.” On the subject of We Gon Ball, he added: “I made We Gon Ball, ’cause my best friend who got shot, I was going through our messages, and he always used to say, ‘We Gon Ball, you heard?’ and I just made it to what I seen, what I do.”

Porter performing in front of a crowd of players during the weekend of the first annual SLAM Summer Classic. (Photo courtesy of SLAM).

This summer, he got the opportunity of a lifetime, when he signed a record deal with Def Jam Records, a label that has had a plethora of who’s who on their roster over the last thirty-four years.

“It’s good, life is good right now,” Porter laughed. “Everything’s good.”

A lot of his music can be found on Soundcloud, but some of his best songs include, “Tricky,” “Heartless,” “Trenches,” and “Changed Up.” There’s another unreleased song called, “Glowin’ Up,” which has been played at the Dyckman Tournament by DJ Zookeeper various times this summer. Another unreleased song to look out for is “Do You Care?” which will be released at some point this year. There’s one song on Apple Music in which Porter is a featured artist, which is called, “Wildin” which is sung by another artist named Lion.

All in all, the summer of 2018 has been good to T.J. Porter, as he has graduated high school, starred in a sneaker commercial and signed to one of the biggest labels in rap history. The question now is, what’s next?

“To take it [the music] as far as I can.” said Porter.

As for him? “Everything!,” he exclaimed with a laugh, “We Gon Ball.”

Videos of TJ Porter:

Courtesy of TJ Porter.

Courtesy of TJ Porter.

Courtesy of Raps & Hustles Music.

Courtesy of TJ Porter.

Courtesy of Made in The East.

Courtesy of Nike.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.