Friday, October 1, 2010

Donnis – Fashionably Late EP (2010) – Review

Donnis’s Fashionably Late EP features a few songs off the similarly titled Mixtape and two new songs. Donnis, named one of XXL’s freshmen 10 for 2010, gets away from what has seemingly become an industry standard – lots and lots of featured guests – and just gives the listener himself. The EP also features a range of beats. While all sonically similar to a degree – given Donnis’s style (a mix of ATL style and backpacker rapping), they exhibit Donnis rapping over slow and more up-tempo music. Thus, this EP is more of a coming-out party for Donnis – showing off what he can do and bring to hip hop.

Lyrically, Donnis sticks to the trending culture of pop hip hop. He raps about making it, money, girls, and his talent – each influenced by ego (be it the real ego of Ladonnis Crump or the inflated ego of his hip hop persona) and his tough background, extremely common in the genre. This is really an issue with hip hop in general. Not too many artists have something new to say; rather they say the same old stuff in new ways over somewhat new beats. Donnis certainly has flow, and lots of potential but the issue with this EP is that, while the songs are new and wholly his, the music is just more of the same. And to some degree that is fine. Not every artist is going to be lyrically meaningful. This EP is more of a fun lighthearted listen than something that gets inside you and resonates. But again, that is fine, and really both have their place. But for Donnis to achieve the same level as another 2010 freshman, J. Cole, he needs to have more depth on his upcoming album – he certainly has the ability to do it.

The EP starts off with I Made It, a fun positive song musically about making it out of a tough upbringing to become a star, featuring backing vocals from Priscilla Renea. The song reminds me a bit of B.o.B, Donnis’s flow resembles his, as do the nature of the lyrics. It is probably the deepest song in terms of really getting a sense for who Donnis is. It is emotionally engaging (given you really listen, and not just enjoy the hook), but juxtaposed by Priscilla Renea’s singing and the synths make it feel a lot more upbeat than the lyrical content. Next, Donnis has his new single Tonight. It is not as catchy or lyrically clever as Gone; it sounds and feels too much like a lot of other songs. Darkside has an interesting beat. It is slow, really slow. While it is hard to bob your head to the song, it is different and allows Donnis to change up his flow – both beneficial to the progress of the EP. Eat You Alive is kind of funny and ingenious in its lyrical metaphors, but it is also the weakest track on the album. The beat and accompanying music just plays as bland. However, the next (and last) song Dream Chaser is the strongest. It does sound a little like KiD CuDi stylistically. It is catchy and the beat is interesting. The hook is what does it. Donnis croons over the beat and a hit is born (or at least a good song).

The EP is a good start for Donnis to introduce himself to fans and the hip hop community in a non-mixtape medium. But, for him to be considered among the best new artists he is going to need to find more of his own sound for his album. 3/5

Donnis’s Fashionably Late EP is available for digital download at (Amazon is usually cheaper than iTunes)

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