Upon entering the artists’ lounge inside Atlantic Records, Donnis erupts into a sea of laughter. The Atlanta rapper and his crew had an interesting conversation about Tyler Perry and his films. The chuckles came as a result of thinking Perry himself had conveniently walked into the room. Dressed in a crisp hat, black puffer vest, maroon button-down, and hard denim, it’s safe to say Donnis has a sense of humor. Even during his photo shoot, he’s a jester, stretching his hands apart as if he is ready to take flight.
The budding wordsmith already has a foot off the ground. While stationed in Tokyo during his time with the U.S. Air Force, Donnis found the real love of his life: music. After three mixtapes, his debut single “Gone,” and its follow-up “Tonight,” he’s prepared Fashionably Late—the abridged version of a mixtape of the same name that he released in June. The five-track EP bears production from Needlz, Count Justice, T-Minus, and also includes a collaboration with soulful singer Priscilla Renea.
Rap-Up.com catches Donnis in a rather jovial mood as he reveals his shock in performing on the same stage as Lauryn Hill, what 21-plus activity he’d like to engage in with President Obama, and the cartoons he looks forward to watching in the coming months.
1. If you were to style your own photo shoot, what would you wear?
An awesome hoodie that is fatigued and costs $415! No, Public School, super dope streetwear 10.Deep is crazy, Fredrick Samuelson… Those are some of my favorites.
2. You’re opening up for Lauryn Hill at the University of Miami on November 5. How does that feel?
Yeah, you may have heard of her… It’s more scary than exciting. I’ve never seen her perform, and meeting her would be amazing. I know that it’s going to be a crazy crowd that’s going to see her perform, [with] some of my fans mixed in there.
3. Finish this sentence: I’m leaving this wack party because…
There are too many guys here.
4. What is the best determination or test to see if a person can really rap?
Spit their best 16 and have them freestyle. Anyone can have a phenomenal song and be a horrible rapper. I think we’ve seen that a lot in the past five or six years.
5. You spent some time in the Air Force stationed in Tokyo. What Japanese acts do you follow?
Zebra and Big-O are probably the two acts that I follow most frequently. They’re kind of like the Jay-Zs over there. DJ Raz, DJ Suki, DJ Master Key—there are tons of amazing DJs over there. They kill it.
6. What TV shows are you excited about this fall?
“Boardwalk Empire,” “Eastbound & Down,” “How I Met Your Mother,” and just reruns of “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack” and “SpongeBob.”
7. If you could sit down and have a conversation with anyone in the world, who would it be?
I wouldn’t mind having a beer with Obama. Sazerac has a $50 shot. I would want to drink 18-year-old Sazerac with President Obama!
8. What is one thing that you are absolutely sure of?
I am sure that I will be successful because I worked my ass off… [Let’s] keep this building open!
9. Is there any advice that saved you from a pitfall?
Chase money, not women.
10. What is something that sparks your interest that others may not know about you?
Before I had my record deal, I almost went to culinary arts [school]. When I was in the Air Force, I studied photo journalism. I wanted to take that, move into culinary arts, and be a food critic. I have good taste buds.
Donnis’ Fashionably Late EP is available now on iTunes. He will embark on a tour with dance-punk duo Matt & Kim starting in October.
Words by Tanya Remekie | Photos by Gavin Thomas for Rap-Up