I can’t lie, Atlanta is crazy right now. Chicago’s pumping out lyricists like Octomom pumps out babies, and New York will always be home to the hardest rappers, but Atlanta is currently the undisputed champion of freshness. I don’t know if it’s something they put in the water - or in the chicken and waffles - but at this point if I hear something I can’t easily categorize, there’s a 90 percent chance they’re from Atlanta. Case in point. The other day DJ Z and I had the following exchange: Z: “You should take a …
DJBooth Album Review
Case in point. The other day DJ Z and I had the following exchange:
Z: “You should take a listen to this Donnis.”
Me: “Word, what’s he sound like?”
Z: “Um, it’s kind of hard to describe...”
Me: “Let me guess, he’s from Atlanta, right?”
Z: “Of course.”
We can add Donnis to the list of A-Town rappers with a reputation for originality. Fresh off his Snack Pack mixtape series, Donnis’ reputation as an emerging contender in the “next big deal” sweepstakes continues to grow with the release of his new mixalbum, Diary of an ATL Brave, an expansive project whose only serious deficit is its complete lack of Atlanta Brave’s references. (Seriously Donnis. You blew your chance to be the first rapper in history to drop a Chipper Jones reference. Try not to let it keep you up at night.) Diary of an ATL Brave does exactly what a mixalbum is supposed to do: make us imagine the dopeness that could be if the artist had the opportunity and resources to do a full album. I’m imagining Donnis, I’m imagining.
If you didn’t like my introduction to Donnis, please give his version a listen. The autobiographical Over Do It is a fittingly aggressive entrance for a man the labels have unjustly overlooked. Honestly, Over Do It is one of my least favorite tracks on the album. Donnis’ creativity, sense of humor and off-kilter metaphors, all the traits that I like best in his flows, are submerged by Donnis’ anger on the track, but I won’t begrudge a man for his catharsis, and at the very least Over Do It showcases his versatility. Speaking of which, if you want evidence of Donnis’ multi-dimensionality ponder the fact that Country Cool and Here to Stay are on the same album. Country Cool is an absolutely southern fried cut, a banger featuring swaggering verses from Donnis and the always trill Bun B, while I Am Me floats on some atmospheric production, a hook from Colin Munroe and some more introspective subject matter. More importantly, despite their obvious difference, Donnis’ voice and personality is strong to make Country and I Am sound cohesive. True to his genre-bending hometown, Donnis makes it difficult to label him. He’s tough, but no gangster. He’s experimental, but definitely no hipster. In other words, he’s Atlanta-ish.
Almost no rapper likes to be compared to other MCs, it diminishes their individuality, but it’s the price an up-and-coming rapper like Donnis has to pay (along with being called “up-and coming”), so let the comparisons begin. While many will undoubtedly go the Andre 3K route, if I had to pick one rapper to compare him to, it’d have to be Kanye. Much like Mr. West, he isn’t afraid to have a sense of humor, is fiercely intelligent, and spends much of that intelligence thinking about girls. Just take Sexytime, a track whose soul-based production could have come off College Dropout, along with lines like “all over your face, how victory taste?” The same goes for Underdog, a triumphant song flooded with pop culture references that Donnis delivers with a serious lyrical chip on his shoulder (remind you of anyone?). Let’s not get carried away. Donnis isn’t close to Kanye’s level – at least not yet – but ultimately that’s a good thing. Donnis is very much his own man, and in an industry full of followers, lord knows we could use all the leaders we can get.
Listen to More: Donnis Written by Nathan S.
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Smoke n' Drive ft. Big Sean, Donnis & Jackie Chain" (2009)
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