‘Channel Surfing’ by Perry Porter

“I’m just a dude trying to expand my idea of what it means to be free,” Perry Porter says, making sense of his wildly mixed portfolio of projects and talents. A self-taught painter and classically trained drummer, he spent the last several years cultivating his voice as a musician and visual artist, transitioning from defunct electro-rap duo Sleep Steady to his current venture as a trap-inflected solo MC, taking up painting full-time, delving into vector-style graphic design, playing tons of shows, selling his artwork. These ventures, he says, are part of a larger whole—cities, states, countries or even worlds within a universe of his own creation.

“Diversity comes from struggle. I had to learn to do it all if I wanted shit done,” he says. “I have the pleasure of ignorance when it comes ‘do’s and don’ts’ in art, with the understanding of keeping the bigger picture on beat.”

The Spanaway-born, Tacoma-dwelling Porter says he was raised by people from the streets but always considered himself an “artsy nerd.” His recent output is complex, sophisticated and, emotionally speaking, all over the map. Released earlier this year, his album Channel Surfing rolls on heavy, loping beats and Porter’s rubbery flow. He bounces from syrupy drawl to chirpy double-time to suit each song’s character, street-hardened but self-deprecating, stoned and surreal, almost cartoonish. The chorus of background voices throughout the album—including a goony, Quasimoto-syle narrator—might be Porter’s own creative impulses showing up to hype or haunt him.

Today we add “filmmaker” to Porter’s eclectic resume, as we premiere the visual component of Channel Surfing, his collaboration with media-production duo Come Correct. This thing is indeed more a short film than a standard music video, splicing a bunch of songs from the album and coloring them with intense, vivid visuals. It’s mesmerizing and appealingly disorienting, like trying a new drug for the first time, which Porter actually does in the opening scene. From there the next five minutes unravel nonlinearly, Porter traveling some kind of urban Limbo, materializing and dissolving as songs splice one to the next.

Come Correct’s Chris Herrero and Aaron Pratt also grew up in Spanaway, friends of Porter’s younger brother, and between the three of them they devised the most striking piece of music-video art to come out of the Northwest this year. In its sinister, psychedelic tone and smoky color palette, its miles away from the jewel tones and pastels of Porter’s visual art and the weeded lunacy of his music. Porter spans disciplines, textures, feelings—and all of it is approaching next-level.