Patriots

DJ Steve Porter still shining after Moss mashup

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DJ Steve Porter still shining after Moss mashup

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
HOLYOKE - Shaq peers over Steve Porters left shoulder and motionlessly awaits his mashup.

The Big Retirees retirement press conference and the kid contestants in last months Scripps National Spelling Bee are perfect fodder for Porter. The smirking words of the basketball leviathan and the wide-eyed nerdiness of the pre-pubescent spelling savants will be smushed on top of each other and set to music.

The result will cause the corners of more than a million mouths to curl north.

But for now, Shaq hangs on the computer screen in Porters cave. Porter better known as DJ Steve Porter is hearing first-person feedback. And hes flattered to learn that at least in the Curran house he is revered. His One Clap mashup of Randy Moss is the modern-day equivalent of the 70s TV jingles I grew up with; the ones you can start singing and know someone else will join in to finish.

I say Moss this, Moss that one of my boys will answer Mossthis, Mossthat from another room. I say, I dont shine shoes . . . I know Ill hear, I dont tape ankles, I dont cut checks . . . Straight cash, Homey.

The scene makes the angular 32-year-old grin, rock back in his chair and turn his palms up as if to say, I had no idea!

Im always in the cave, Porter says, referring to the 25x15 studio nestled in a red brick warehouse in this proud, working-class city on the banks of the Connecticut River in Western, Massachusetts. Im always here just grinding away on stuff, so hearing those stories is amazing to know people are moved while listening to this stuff. Im either here, traveling or working with clients directly so its rare that I get out and touch anything outside the fishbowl.

The uploads on Porters YouTube channel have been viewed more than 25,663,000 times. The Slap Chop remix, Press Hop (1 and 2), Charlie Sheens Winning (and more!!), Blake Griffin.

Strewn across the Internet landscape are millions more views of Porter creations. Once an underground DJ spinning techno and dance in clubs from Boston to Ireland, Porter is now very much above-the-surface. Shaq and the spelling bee kids are going to be part of a monthly mashup he does for ESPN. He did the house ads for the NBA during the 2010 playoffs. Youll soon be seeing his latest creation for Wheaties featuring Kevin Garnett and Peyton Manning. Theres a Hyundai commercial, a Puma account featuring Usain Bolt, a gig DJing at Comic Con, a date to DJ in and out of breaks for ESPNs Sports Nation and mashups for NBCs Community.

Porters company, Porterhouse Media, is blossoming and his marketing directormedia specialistspokesperson Bethany Daley is straight out trying to manage Porters schedule.

Despite proof of his success, Porter is endearingly self-conscious about the fact people really, really like his stuff.

I have no way of fathoming (the number of people whove watched his work) and thats probably a good thing, he professes. Its just reassuring that people are checking out the videos. Its impossible to get your head around the numbers. But multiple elements make it go viral.

The son of two UMass professors his father Roger started the Polymer Science Program at UMass, his mother is currently the ombudsperson at the university Porter started on this road when he was at Willison-Northampton, a prep school in Easthampton. He joined the DJ club there. It became his passion and he was a prodigy. Spinning at raves in Boston and New York led to gigs in Europe.

For about 10 years he was immersed. His crossover began with, of all things, the Slap Chop. Noodling at his computer one night, he mashed up Vince Offers infomercial and uploaded it to YouTube. Within hours, it had gone viral. Its been viewed more than 12 million times. Before long, Porter a diehard sports fan - was sampling from press conferences and working his magic there.

Now his world is mashed up between underground DJ and burgeoning business titan as companies come to him to help themselves get edgy and go viral.

The transition wasnt easy.

It took me a long time to get to this point as an artist, he explains. When I first started making music and creating things I was doing it a lot more for myself because I wanted to see what I could do. Now, Ive reached a point with becoming more confident with my skill set. And when I became more confident, I became more comfortable working with other people and letting people into my world.

Its a personal world when you make something and then invite people in to look at it, he adds. It takes some strength and courage. And it wasnt until I reached a level of maturity that I could allow that. And now its what I want. Let me know if were going in the right direction.

The most daunting account so far?

Definitely working with the NBA, he says. Theyre very image conscious and rightfully so and I did my very best to honor their consciousness of their own image with the playoff ads. Thats something I really enjoy doing, drawing within the lines. If you tell me you want to go this direction, thats the most fun part of doing these videos is to draw within those lines.

"To make something that (the customer) will love but is still dynamic and fun. With the NBA it was a great challenge because youre upholding their tradition and image. But thats how you make awesome things, with cooperation. Thats a difficult thing for an artist to get through and get over is to allow other people to critique their work.

How has the underground DJ community reacted to his success? He says hes heard sellout accusations.

I did nothing but keep it real for 10 years, he explains. I think the only thing keeping me from being completely massacred is that Im doing something new and fresh and people offer me respect for that in that Im treading new ground. If I started making completely cheesy commercial pop music, theyd say, Steve, whats up? but I havent. Still, there will always be people out there who are critical and as the notoriety has come theres been that kind of criticism. People have said some really mean stuff.

The reason that criticism doesnt really stand is that Porter is creating something he likes that he hopes others like too. The fact a broad audience enjoys it is not his fault.

Porter is most proud of his work for the NBA. But his favorite mashup may be the Moss one, released last fall when the mercurial wideout returned to the Vikings.

The amount of amazing content was already there, he points out. To make a solid beat and solid track around that was easy compared to the content that was there in the first place. You cant get that from every athlete. What he was saying was gold. There was a comedic value but a catchiness to it as well. Theres a little comedy, impact-full moments. You can combine different elements to them and tint it with some cinematic tones with the highlights then go to the personality stuff.

With the Moss video, that wasa perfect storm, he recalls. The soundbites were great, the track came out well and he was on the tip of everyones tongue. Everyone was already all over the guy. We had planned to do the Moss video a month before everything went down and then it exploded. Thats viral in a nutshell. You have to have a perfect storm where everyone is already talking about it and then something kicks it even harder.

Porter is in the eye of the perfect storm now. A modern-day alchemist in a Holyoke warehouse.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Patriots' team personality changed by offseason moves, and not for better

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Patriots' team personality changed by offseason moves, and not for better

Bill Belichick has long been a proponent of altering his team's DNA from season to season. It cuts down on complacency, and also allows the head coach to be correct when he says last year doesn't matter to this year's Patriots. It can't, after all. What can players like Stephon Gilmore, Brandin Cooks or Lawrence Guy, who were on other rosters in other cities and -- in some cases -- other divisions or other conferences, know about last year's Pats? The answer is nothing, or next to nothing. Just the way Belichick prefers.

But last offseason's turnover may have done more harm than good, at least to this point in the year. Yes, the Pats have shown a toughness and an ability to overcome adversity -- see the start versus the Jets and the comeback against the Texans -- but there are clear indicators this group isn't gelling like Belichick believed it would. 

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Much of that points to the unusual approach taken by the coach and the front office in free agency. Whether it was the quick-strike signing of Gilmore to an expensive contract, to the surrendering of another first-rounder -- this time by choice -- in the trade for Cooks, or even the decision to walk away from fan favorite LeGarrette Blount in favor of younger, less proven backs Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead, much of what Belichick was trying to do has yet to bear the necesssary fruit. And it's not just on the field where the Pats have shown deficiencies; it's in the locker room and meeting rooms as well.

Start with the bold move to get an in-his-prime Gilmore. Signing a player considered in some circles to be a No. 1 corner makes all the sense in the world. But what perplexed many was the decision to pay an outsider over Malcolm Butler, a proven player not only in this system, but in the biggest of games. Gilmore doesn't have that pedigree because his former team, the Bills, never made the playoffs, let alone a Super Bowl. 

Butler's anger at the decision and the way the rest of his offseason played out has been well-documented in this space {http://www.nbcsports.com/boston/new-england-patriots/new-england-patriots-mike-giardi-malcom-butler-wanted-new-orleans-he-wanted-them-badly}. But what hasn't in many other spaces is the acknowledgement that it still wears on Butler to this day. 

His play is back on the uptick after a reduction of snaps in Week 2, but Butler has always been a player to whom the team has devoted extra attention to get ready week to week. That may have factored in the Pats' decision to only go so far in contract talks. Why then would Belichick assume Butler would be the perfect professional when Gilmore gets what Butler believes is his money? The thought seems to run counter with the argument against keeping Butler longterm in the first place. 

Butler says his relationship with Gilmore is good, that he's glad to have him as a teammate. Perhaps the 28-year-old has come to that now. Perhaps. 

As for Gilmore, he's soft-spoken. That has occasionally come off as though he's a player lacking confidence. His performance against Tampa Bay was a step in the right direction, but it was immediately followed by a day-before-the-game scratch against the Jets because of a concussion that was either suffered late in the week or was unreported until Saturday. His sudden absence put the Patriots in a bind. The fact that Gilmore spoke up was the right thing to do, but if it could have been communicated earlier it should have been, for the good of both player and team. Now he must reassert himself, whenever that opportunity comes.

"[You] grow together as team based on those experiences; some good, some bad, but learning from all of them," Belichick said when I asked him about a team's personality evolving over the course of the year. "I mean, we've only had one roster change since the start of the season but that's certainly on the low side. I would anticipate that there would be roster changes during the course of the year like there always are for every team and so that affects the makeup of the team, the interactions of the team. Maybe that's the personality you're talking about."

Belichick has a tendency to not only remember your last game, but -- if warranted -- hold it against you. Blount would be a prime example. He rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and 18 touchdowns last year but his play in the Super Bowl was poor. So despite his production on the field and his popularity off, the Pats had no inclination to offer LGB a raise. In fact, they were fine with him walking away, and that's exactly what he did. Gillislee and Burkhead were tabbed as replacement parts, and on paper it looked great. It still may end that way. But neither player has provided a) a level of play equivalent to Blount's and b) the energy that Blount brought. And that latter part of the equation is incredibly important. Just ask the Eagles, who get a jolt from Blount every time he lowers his shoulder and runs over a defender. 

The same could hold true for others who fled, were allowed to leave, or never got the chance to come back: 

-- Martellus Bennett could be a pain in the ass but there was never a dull moment around him, and no one can deny the loquacious tight end was an energy player both on and off the field. 

-- Logan Ryan had been through so much with the Pats, both good and bad. He had no problem talking, not just to his teammates but to the other side as well. He had earned his teammates' trust. 

-- Chris Long had an excellent relationship with so many guys on the team, and while he wouldn't be considered a "personality" in the same mold as Blount, he was incredibly well-respected for his professionalism and for his sacrifice, many times playing out of position. 

Then throw in the retirement of old standby Rob Ninkovich and, of course, the season-ending injury to Julian Edelman. If you didn't understand before, you should know now just how much each player is missed. 

It's now up to the newcomers, and some of the holdovers, to elevate their level and find their voice, both on the field and in that room. And that may also be a part of the early issue. These "new" players -- Cooks, Gilmore, Gillislee, Burkhead, Guy -- are, for the moment, quiet. Perhaps they're concerned about stepping on toes, but at some point that may be needed.

"Look, everybody's a shareholder on the team," Belichick said. "It's not one person's team. It belongs to all of us and we try to make it as functional, as effective and as competitive as we possibly can. So, that's what the goal is, to win every game that we play and to have a good season and to make the most out of every day and every opportunity that we have. 

"I don't know if that answers the question or not, but I'm trying."

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'Twinkle Toes' Gronkowski? In Belichick's eyes, anyway

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'Twinkle Toes' Gronkowski? In Belichick's eyes, anyway

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski has plenty of nicknames. There's the obvious abbreviation of his last name. There's what Tom Brady calls him, borrowing from Marshawn Lynch: "Beast Mode."

Bill Belichick has also gotten in on the nickname game for his massive tight end, apparently. What it lacks in intimidation it makes up for with . . . sparkle?

Gronkowski was told on Wednesday afternoon that when Belichick broke down his 33-yard touchdown against the Jets, he made a point to highlight Gronkowski's high-stepping into the end zone.

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"Oh, he liked that? It didn’t seem like he liked it," Gronkowski said with a smile. "He says I've got twinkle toes, so I’ll take Twinkle Toes. I like when I have twinkle toes -- that means I’m feeling good. I’m feeling it."

Gronkowski finished the game with 6 catches for 83 yards and two scores, and if he stays healthy he's on pace for 78 catches for 1,203 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Those numbers would put him in contention for a first-team All-Pro nod, which would earn him the max $10.75 million for 2017 that's been written into his incentive-laden contract for this season.

Even if he isn't an All-Pro, 1,200 receiving yards would also trigger the max value of the deal. Seventy catches, 1,000 receiving yards or 12 touchdowns would trigger the second tier of Gronkowski's incentives, paying him $8.75 million. Sixty catches, 800 yards or 10 touchdowns would pay him $6.75 million -- up from the minimum of $5.25 million he's  guaranteed for this season.

Numbers aside, part of what has made Gronkowski's season so impressive is that he's been an impactful run-blocker and pass-protector when asked. On Dion Lewis' first carry of the game against the Jets, Gronkowski sealed a defensive lineman and allowed Lewis to bounce outside for nine yards. On a goal-line run in the second quarter, Lewis ran right behind Gronkowski to get into the end zone. 

During training camp, as Gronkowski returned to the field after season-ending back surgery, the physical aspect of the game didn't necessarily look like one of his strong suits. He was on the ground more than reporters are used to seeing, and there were questions as to whether or not at this stage of his career he would be able to be the well-rounded tight end that has made him such a dynamic weapon in years past. 

After five games, it's clear he has his feet under him. 

"It's definitely part of the game, a big part of the game," he said. "You want to be able to block. It helps in the play-action passes big time to get open. It just helps overall. It helps with the running game to be able to block and you want a run game. You don't just want a pass game. 

"It takes time. When you get to training camp you've got to build your foundation. You’ve got to build that base and taking all of those hits in training camp and it progresses throughout the season. Just building the base throughout training camp and you just want to be the best blocker that you can be to help out the team."

A hard-nosed blocker who occasionally flashes twinkle toes? Though he may poke fun, Belichick's no doubt pleased he has himself a tight end who can do both.

"Yeah, he said I had twinkle toes," Gronkowski said. "I took it as a compliment . . . I like twinkle toes."

You can watch Belichick's breakdown of Gronkowski's celebration -- he also looked at his team's execution against a two-man Jets rush, its hustle on kickoffs, and a 58-yard net punt by Ryan Allen -- on Patriots.com.

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