Diddy’s been on a roll lately when it comes to hand-picked talent. There’s Danity Kane and their pop-infused success. And then there’s Day26, a group of male R&B singers gingerly selected in the same rigorous competition on MTV’s “Making the Band 4.”Â So where does Donnie Klang fit in? Apparently, right in the spotlight. The blue-eyed Long Island native was elevated into solo status by Diddy himself last season after making it past the deadly reality show cuts. Now he’s ready to do his own thing, pulling inspiration from the best and harnessing his own passion for quality new age R&B.
Donnie can’t help but visualize his success, with a mentor like Diddy and some friendly competition that pushes him past his limits. His debut album, Just a Rolling Stone, drops August 19th, when fans who voted him to the front will finally get a peek into his musical perspective. On the record, and on air for a taping of next season’s “Making the Band,”Â Donnie sits down with Rap-Up.com to discuss talent, the ladies, and his whimsical home-wrecking plans.
You’ve already won a lot of the girls over, but what is it about this album that’s going to get props from the guys?
The tracks in general. The sounds are really fresh, really new. It’s a big sound. You could hear the difference between a one-hit wonder sound and then the sound of the first album of many to come. Almost all the tracks are club tracks, even the slow ones. Especially the single, “Take You There”Â—that one will get the male crowd too because it’s a hot club song with a sexy vibe that they’ll wanna play for a girl.
When we saw you meet and work with the producer Seven last season, you had this look on your face; we could tell how excited you were. Do you ever feel like you’ll get to the point where you can be a mentor and have that affect on someone?
Just learning from Seven, you can see the difference with his music now and when he was at Murder Inc. with Ashanti and Ja Rule. You hear how he grew and he evolved. Now he’s this dope producer with a fresh sound. He’s always going to be one step ahead of the game. That’s the point I want to get to, whether it’s as a producer, a performer, a writer… I want to get to the point where I’m a step ahead of everyone and I create the sound.
A lot of new artists pull inspiration from the greats. Where did your appreciation for Prince’s music stem from?
Seven told me to go home and do some homework. I grew up on like Boyz II Men, 112, Dru Hill, and even *NSYNC. I’m a fan of pop music and Top 40 and R&B also. He’s like do some homework because pop in the ’80s wasn’t just Michael Jackson. It was Prince, it was James Brown, it was these artists that took it to a whole ’nother level performance-wise.
Is it hard to stay humble in this industry?
No! First of all, my mom would kick my butt if I changed, so that’s one thing in the back of my head. The way I was raised, we never had much and we always struggled, so I have to appreciate things when I get them. I mean, I used to work in a warehouse moving boxes around.
When you came into the house, did you have a crush on any of the Danity Kane girls?
My one and only mentality was that I wanted to make an album. But since the season was mainly about Day26 and Danity Kane making their albums, I wanted to learn from Danity Kane since they had already come out with a platinum album. I did think Aubrey [O’Day] was cute. Whatever. I was the solo artist on the show, and she was the wild one out of Danity Kane, so we both stuck out. We felt like it could’ve worked and we tried and went on a couple dates, but it didn’t. It’s tough enough being one person in the industry with all the hectic schedules…and we’re two people in the industry.
So you two aren’t seeing each other?
No, we’re just friends. And we had a huge fight on TV that everyone saw.
Do you feel weird about every detail of that relationship being exposed on TV?
Aubrey seemed more comfortable with it than you did.
I grew up in a single parent household with my mom. My dad remarried and I have three half-sisters on that side, so the last thing I want to do is disrespect women. I don’t want people to take it the wrong way and think I was going on a date behind her back. It was just me and guys chillin’ at a lounge with other girls.
Aubrey’s been seen with pop singer Jesse McCartney. Does that bother you?
Nah, we’re good friends now. We’re in “Making the Band”Â mode again so it’s a friendly competition. I’m opening the “Making the Band”Â tour and they’re headlining, so I just want to come on and make it hard for Day26 and Danity Kane to come on. I got 10 minutes, so I gotta make the most of those 10 minutes.
Are there any celebrity crushes you’ve got right now?
I’m excited to meet a few people. I want to go to a Spurs game and kind of just sweep Eva Longoria off her feet and then tell [her husband] Tony Parker, “Listen, just finish your basketball game. We’re just going to go to dinner.”Â
That’s some serious ambition.
It’s a dream. We can all dream.