Deniro Farrar: Plotting and Planning
By Eric Tullis
One February night, as Charlotte rapper Deniro Farrar prepares to open for YMCMB (Young Money & Cash Money Billionaires) artist Tyga during a hometown show at The Fillmore, he’s tweeting in the third-person from his East Charlotte home. He’s worried about having to “talk educated” for a phone interview with Shuffle. “Don’t want people under the impression that Deniro Farrar is or may be stupid,” he wrote.
Deniro, born Qushawan Farrar, was raised in two of Charlotte’s notorious, high-crime communities – Little Rock Apartments and Tuckaseegee – and, as these things often happen, he made it to high school but never past the ninth grade.
That decision wasn’t stupid, just misguided, but in early 2010 he found that he had a knack for rapping and maybe a new music career to go with it. What resulted was Feel This, a 31-track mixtape that found Farrar toying with young-blood themes and song titles such as “Solo Cup Living.” Most of the material was a direct reflection of Farrar’s street life, lacking in morality and consequence. If he expected to make some sort of admirable career out of rapping, he had to grow up, come up with more provocative material, and think big. Bigger than just Charlotte.
He figured this out in less than a year, and with his latest independent release, DESTINY.altered, he calls his growth a “revamping and reincarnation.”
A few years ago, Farrar couldn’t have handled dual-consciousness songs like “Dyingtoseeanotherday” or “No Games” – both songs engage in promotion and condemnation of the rough street life he survived. It’s a conflicted attack, shared by many of his peers in hip-hop’s latest renewal of thug-worship (see: Freddie Gibbs, Schoolboy Q, A$AP Rocky), but unlike Farrar, they offset their toughness with their own distinct weirdness. In Farrar’s case, being weird isn’t necessarily about being an eccentric as much as it is about how many revoltingly perverted and homicidal lines he can cram into one screwy song.
“Acid” is a wonky, circus-tent knocker, corrupted by Farrar’s evil deeds, while the porn tales of “No First Night Sex” are loaded with farce, filth, and fellatio. Elsewhere on DESTINY.altered, producers Storm Watkins, Ryan Hemsworth, and David Heartbreak’s fearsome beats vie for Farrar’s grimiest narratives.
It’s also doubtful that, a few years ago, Farrar could have held his own in the company of guest rappers Emilio Rojas, G-Side, Nacho Picasso, and Rapper Big Pooh, all of whom appear on DESTINY.altered. They’re all big names within small, niche hip-hop circles, and for a guy like Farrar – who has only been rapping for three years – it’s not only helped his skill set, but also taught him to broaden his audience.
Whether he’s joking his way through “Frat Boy Wasted” for an all-white following at a UNC-Chapel Hill fraternity house, or breaking out the grind-time anthem, “Waiting For?” in front of an all-black audience during a performance at his hometown’s annual CIAA basketball tournament weekend, Farrar wants his music to strike a chord with everyone.
“They love me,” Farrar says of the distinctively different crowds. “But, I don’t give a damn who it is. You can be out there blind and in a wheelchair or the richest man in the world. It doesn’t matter. Everyone can identify with struggle.”
For now, Farrar will be busy completing a collaborative EP with Bay Area rapper/producer Shady Blaze. Then, he’ll set out to record a left-field project with the hip-hop/electro duo Flosstradamus that could grant him the nationwide appeal he’s long desired.
“It was never my goal to develop a fan base in Charlotte,” Farrar says. “I know that Charlotte doesn’t support their own. I’m not concerned with being a local celebrity. That’s bullshit because they’re broke too.” This isn’t the tone of a jaded man, but rather, a position taken by one who won’t commit to any sort of Atlas-ian responsibility until he can fully live up to his city’s expectations. Farrar wants to be the great rap ambassador that Charlotte has never really had. He just wants to be smart about it.