This month in Fire Starter, we're introducing some emerging talent from the South we feel you should be up on. Last week, we brought you Pill. Now, we're keeping it in Atlanta for Donnis. If you don't' know, now you will.
Fire Starter: Donnis
Atlanta's Donnis is no superman; he's everyman.
"I feel like 'everyman rap' is kind of coming back, you know what I mean?" the 22 year-old said about his relatable lyrics. "And people are really feeling it, because it's something they can rap to. It's something they can live by, because everybody doesn't get to ride in a Maybach every day."
It's not "Maybach Music" just yet for Don. "It's 'Honda Music' for me," he laughed.
Donnis might soon have enough loot to get into one of those luxury vehicles soon. His camp said several labels, including Atlantic, Universal and Jive, are courting the up-and-comer. The buzz has been slowly building since he put out his The Diary of an ATL Brave mixtape with apparel brand 10 Deep (celebs such as T-Pain have been seen rocking a "Sexy Time" T-shirt, which was named after one of the record's highlights). Just a couple of weeks ago, he left his mark on the CMJ conference. Professionals and fans alike gave Donnis kudos for his rhymes and for keeping his composure after an onstage incident with an overzealous fan.
Donnis' poise is the reason he's making his way in hip-hop right now. The talented Atlanta MC almost hung up the mic before recording The Diary of an ATL Brave. He kept his cool and gained inspiration from the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League production team.
I don't feel like people know, but in the track 'Here to Stay' With Marsha [Ambrosius], I was like, 'I thought I died but was revived by my allies,' " Donnis detailed. "That right there, that's the J.U.S.T.I.C.E League. Like, they really kind of resurrected me as far as wanting to do music, because it kind of died for me."
The League, who have produced tracks for Jay-Z, Rick Ross and Bun B, gave Don a big co-sign, telling him he was up next. "I just went in with them, and it was like a breath of fresh air for them to tell me, 'Yo, you got it.' "
In addition to "Here to Stay," the League produced "Sexy Time," "I Am Me" and "Ticket to the Moon."
It was Donnis' ticket to Tokyo that inspired him to pursue hip-hop seriously. It provided him an outlet to talk about all his new experiences while was overseas serving in the Air Force. One of Japan's biggest DJs, Master Key, took him under his wing.
"I was just doing shows close to the base, and then I spread it out and did it in the city," Donnis recalled. "[Master Key] got wind of it, and we kind of just took off. [I] opened for T.I. and anybody who would come out. Anybody who would come out to Tokyo, I was opening for them, and it kind of just got to the point where it was like, 'OK, you doing good out here, but you don't speak Japanese. What you going to do?' "
After serving close to three years in the Air Force, he returned to ATL to record the mixtape. Donnis is continuing to push his product. His record "Gone" is getting play on New York radio station Hot 97 as well as his local ATL stations.
For other artists featured in Mixtape Daily, check out Mixtape Daily Headlines.