Donmonique talks her upcoming tape "Thirst Trap" and breaks down collaborations with Danny Brown, Stelios Phili and Chuck Inglish.
In terms of songs that use the names of caucasian female celebrities to stand in for other white substances, Donmonique's "Pilates" is second only to Migos' "Hannah Montana," the track that may have started the whole trend. Listing Jenner sisters and former Disney stars on the hook, the 20-year-old Brooklyn rapper rides the minimal, "Vans"-style beat to paydirt, securing herself quite the underground hit, seemingly from out of nowhere.
After the "Pilates" video dropped in March, though, things have changed for Donmonique. Names like Danny Brown and Chuck Inglish have come knocking for collaborations, and Ferg Forever beatsmith Stelios Phili has forged a partnership with her. One of the most exciting, eclectic NY rappers to emerge from the woodwork in recent months, Don sat down with us to discuss her new project, Thirst Trap.
HNHH: When did you start rapping?
Donmonique: Almost two years ago. I always wanted to rap, but I never had the connects, I never knew how to get into it. Then I met J.B. [her manager] and we was mobbin’ for about a year, and we finally got in the studio and made “We Don’t,” and then from there we did “Pilates” and all that. I’m mobbin’, building relationships, hard work. Cause it’s always something I wanted to do, so once I got in it, I was just like [snaps] on it.
HNHH: Growing up in Brooklyn, what rappers inspired you?
D: Of course Kim, Biggie... I listen to a lot of Wayne. A lot of Wayne… Remy, Trina, you know, stuff like that.
HNHH: Your music takes sounds and styles from all across the country though, do you feel any pressure to stay true to Brooklyn’s legacy?
D: It’s like my accent is so strong, I could get on any beat and make it sound like a New York track. “Pilates” is a West Coast-y song, but you can still tell it’s someone from Brooklyn on the track. So I don’t really need a super “hip hop” beat to let people know I’m from New York.
HNHH: Why did you decide to branch out into so many different styles? Eclectic taste?
D: Yeah, I listen to a lot of different stuff, and I didn’t want to be the typical “New York rapper” with just a bunch of boom-bap, like I like trap music, so I wanted to switch it up, bring the trap to New York.
HNHH: Speaking of things Atlanta-related, the Awful Records crew are in your ‘Pilates” video.
D: Well, it was a party that we threw for them, it was a birthday party for Rich[PoSlim], and me and my friends was hosting it. We were sitting on “Pilates” for a minute, and I wanted to shoot a video, so I was like, we’ll just shoot it at the party because everybody’s gonna be there with their cameras anyway. I didn’t even know who was gonna shoot it until we got to the party. It was very spur-of-the-moment and authentic, because all of the people at the party were my friends, and that’s really what we do. I met [Awful] when I first went to Atlanta for A3C, and then they came to New York and we all linked up.
HNHH: Did you ever expect that song to take off like it has?
D: No! I mean, when I first made it, I was like, ‘This is gonna be a hit,’ but then it was out for about eight months before the video came out, so then I’m like, ‘I don’t know…’ But the video came out, and then it blew up all over again.
HNHH: You’re also working closely with Stelios Phili, how did you make that connection?
D: Stelios contacted me on Twitter, because he saw the video, he heard “Pilates,” and then we linked up. We have this work ethic— he’ll make the beat on the spot [at his Lower East Side studio], and then we’ll come up with a hook, and then I’ll go home, write my verse, come back, and then we’ll do the same thing on another song. And so on and so forth… I’d much rather do it that way then be at a studio for two hours and then have to hurry up and rush, like we all chilling’, and it’s cool, in the crib…
HNHH: How did you get Danny Brown on “Tha Low”? He doesn’t do many guest verses.
D: He followed me on Twitter. I was like, “Oh, maybe he’s just following everybody,” because he follows a lot of people. So maybe it was an accident, I don’t know. And then he followed me on Instagram, and so I’m like ‘Okay, he definitely knows about the movement.’ So then I DM’d him, asked for his email, he gave me it and I was like, 'I’m about to send you something.’ He heard [“Tha Low”], emailed me, was like, “This is dope, I’m gonna do something to it.” He sent his verse, and I was like, ‘Oh shit, he really sent it!’ And then we finished it up last night [June 14].
HNHH: And then you’re also working with Chuck Inglish?
D: Well our managers knew each other, and then when the “Pilates” video came out, that’s when he reached out. And he sent me a track [from his upcoming album], and then I asked him if he wanted to be on the “Pilates” remix and he was down.
HNHH: How do you decide what collaborators to bring on?
D: I don’t want it to be like, “Oh, you have to do a track with this person,” when I don’t even know who it is. I want it to be genuine, like they know who I am, I know who they are, let’s do a track, let’s meet, you know? Let’s create.
HNHH: On “You Aint’ Heard,” you say, “Just signed another deal, so I’m glistening.” Any big labels in your future?
D: [Laughs] We’ll see…
HNHH: Tell me about the new project, Thirst Trap.
D: Thirst Trap. It’s my own little genre of music, because it’s like trap music, and then at the same time, sexy and cute. So “Thirst Trap,” like on social media.