Donwill of Tanya Morgan and Dash Speaks Unite with Ne$$ of Weekend Money and Fat Tony for "Sixteen Tons"

Four underground spitters for like Voltron.

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Jul 31 2014, 6:30pm

Donwill, who’s mostly known as one-half of the rap duo Tanya Morgan, is a man of many wigs. First, there’s the dorky, comb-over wig he wore during his cameo on Jean Grae’s YouTube sitcom, Life With Jeannie. Then, there are his other bigwig enterprises, which include his frequent guest appearances on the FanBros podcast, solo albums, guest verses, and constant touring like the current tour that he and his Tanya Morgan brethren, Von Pea, are on with Pigeon John and Encino Man.

Somewhere, in between all of that, he recorded this new song entitled “Sixteen Tons,” which is the third single off of Don Speaks—a collaborative, eight-track project combining Donwill and New York DJ/producer Dash Speaks. If you’re fan of the the television show Mad Men, then you might recognize the song’s opening section, Tennessee Ernie Ford’s 1955 version of “Sixteen Tons,” which was used in one of the episode’s closing credits after Don Draper is essentially blackmailed into signing a new contract with his agency. Otherwise, you may have heard your grandparents singing “Sixteen Tons,” since it was a hugely popular protest song from the 1940s and 50s about the harsh realities of coal miners.

After a half-minute of that, “Sixteen Tons” blasts into Dash Speaks’ frantic 808 ticks, towed by iron chords and arcade horns hard enough to mine holes in your head. Donwill quickly gets into his anti-bitch-made-and-sneak-disser protest, before NE$$ and Houston party-boy, Fat Tony, join in on the fun.

Although this might seem like a weird departure from Donwill’s Tanya Morgan roots, away from his group, he’s always welcomed the change in sound. “I like doing stuff that I can’t do,” says Donwill. “A lot of people send me beats but it’s just stuff that I can sit on my computer and do myself. My solo output has always been departures. I’ve never heard anything like what Dash does production wise.” Dash Speaks describes his own style of production as, “if people from the future had to go back in time and make DJ Premier beats.” It’s a bold comparison, but as you can tell from “Sixteen Tons,” Don Speaks isn’t for the fainthearted.

The official release date for Don Speaks is August 5th. If you follow the duo on Facebook, the album, which also features Spec Boogie, Ilyas, Scoop and Karen Rodriguez, will be available for a free download one week after the release date. For an immediate download of one of the album’s songs, “Housing Music,” you can pre-order the album via iTunes here.

@erictullis