DonMonique's Got Kendall, Kylie, and Miley, but More Importantly She's Got a Dope Video for "Pilates"
The East New York rapper can make the work stretch, and this is the video to prove it.
Meet DonMonique, a 20-year-old rapper from the Brooklyn neighborhood of East New York. DonMonique has many things: She's got Kendall, Kylie, and Miley. She's got Drizzy, Wayne, and Nicki (it breaks down "real good, so sticky"). She also has a talent for rapping laconic, beguiling bars that land like karate punches, floating effortlessly but snapping into place with precision. Like the celebrities whose namesakes she has flipped into drug slang, she will compel you to pay attention.
DonMonique is a recent arrival to rap, with only about a year of seriously pursuing it under her belt. But she's already catching people's attention off of just two songs, her first single "We Don't" and the fantastically, joyfully minimal "Pilates," which came out a few months ago. The premise is simple: DonMonique can make the work stretch like Pilates. Like I wrote last month about like-minded New York rap crew N.O.V.A. Knuckleheads and Atlanta's Awful Records, there's a kind of wonderful movement in rap right now toward making songs that are nominally about selling drugs but ultimately more about exploring the limits of extreme minimalism and bending the language of rap's dominant themes in the weirdest and most Pilates-like contortions possible. Witness DonMonique's drawling lines right here: "chef game, pimp game Betty Crocker / so brown, so smooth, Aunt Jemima / you could never get this love from your mama / when you call I come, no drama."
Over the phone, DonMonique pointed out another formal flourish in the song that I didn't notice: There's no cursing. And the song as a whole offers a self-aware twist on rap's regionalism and DonMonique's potential as a New York rapper. She explained to me, "I don't really have to bring the whole East Coast vibe to my music because my voice is so East Coast… I don't have to be New York with it all the way because Pilates is like a West Coast-y, Tyga-ish beat, but you can still tell it's someone from New York on it, and a lot of people can't do that." She also added that "Pilates" offers a more universal sound than "We Don't," which "was really aggressive and something all girls could relate to." For once in rap, the dudes are included!
In the video, directed by Hidji Films, some of said dudes will be recognizable: The video was filmed during a party with Awful Records, and it features charming cameos from the likes of Richposlim and Father. It's fun and improvisational, and it suggests big things are on the way for the charismatic DonMonique (incidentally, she has music finished with TM88, Rome Fortune, and Mad Decent's Swizzymack). Expect a project some time this spring, and, in the meantime, make the work stretch with one of the most fun songs to come out of New York city in a minute:
Follow Kyle Kramer on Twitter.