What has three heads, six legs and more club hits than anyone without a proper album down South?
That would be Travis Porter, the oddly named rap group of three performers from Decatur, Ga. After a slew of popular mixtapes and a collaborative tape with the undisputed king of neo-crunk, Waka Flocka Flame, the group is finally set to release its debut, “From Day 1,” on May 29 on Porterhouse/RCA.
The album’s title refers to the patience of rabid (and largely female) fans who have known about the act since the members still attended high school. “People recognized our music, but now they know us for real,” Lakeem “Ali” Mattox says. “They’ve seen the hard work, they’ve seen us passing out our own CDs, they’ve seen us come up from riding in a van to a tour bus now.”
Though the members just reached the legal drinking age, “Travie” (as the act is known to fans) has been making music since stepbrothers Mattox and Donquez “Quez” Woods met Duncan “Strap” Harold in middle school. Together, they’ve filled more than a half-dozen mixtapes with countless street hits, having built local buzz to a fever pitch by the time the act signed with Jive in fall of 2010.
“We started performing at clubs when we were 16, 17, and we just had that chemistry, so we took it to the next level,” Harold says. Today, that next level is a proper album release to reach the kinds of fans who aren’t interested in the mixtape market. “Some people out there only know about albums,” Woods says. “If you put out an album, you’re in the upper echelon of rap. I want people to look at me like that.”
“The root is consistency,” group manager Charlie Jabaley says. “Travis Porter has been putting out hit records for four years but, on top of that, [they’ve had] a strong viral campaign, like the ‘Proud to Be a Problem’ documentary, and the movie that we have coming out.” The so-called “movie” is a short film titled “Red Rock” that the group hopes will be the first of many forays into acting.
For now, Travis Porter is promoting the album’s first official single, “Aww Yea” (produced by B-Beck), with appearances including Prom Week on BET’s “106 & Park,” a hosting spot on MTV2’s “Sucker Free Sunday” and a performance on MTV’s “Hip Hop POV.”
Though “Aww Yea” has yet to chart, the group made its first appearance with the FKI-produced “Make It Rain,” a battle-of-the-sexes romp that reached No. 92 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 9 on Billboard’s Rap Songs chart. The tune, which appears as a bonus track on “From Day 1,” first debuted on the “I Am Travis Porter” mixtape in summer of 2010.
Prior to “Make It Rain,” the group’s first appearance on an official retail release came the previous summer with “Freaky Girls” on the Underground Atlanta compilation from rapper Killer Mike, who likened the trio to a new age Beastie Boys.
As for three people sharing the name of just one individual, the members probably explain it best on an early song called “Who the Hell Is Travis,” in which the Porter character is the embodiment of that coolest kid on campus. “Travis Porter shades, Travis Porter clothes/Travis get that money, Travis got them hoes. Travis be my homie, yeah he like my boy/He always counting money, always at the mall.” At this point, it just might be an accurate depiction of how these young performers have melded into one act