Rising Brooklyn Rapper DonMonique: 'I'm Not Changing Myself for the Rap Game'

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DonMonique

A new face in the hip-hop scene, Brooklyn MC DonMonique has no plans to change. “I’m not changing myself for the rap game,” she tells Billboard in a recent interview. “I’m still doing what I was doing last year. I’m just doing music now.” In fact, it was just a year ago that DonMonique laid foot in the hip-hop arena, a step that has since landed her on tracks with Danny Brown and platforms from Noisey to Pitchfork.

The 20-year-old rapper has made no compromises along the way, unafraid to throw brash rhymes and spit slick bars that announce her raw persona. “I feel like I am what I rap about,” she says, “I’m bringing a type of sound that no one's ever heard before.” Despite the comparisons to Brooklyn native Lil’ Kim, DonMonique is an entity of her own. “I guess we have the same voice and the same type of flow, but at the same time [my music] is not as hardcore as hers is,” she confesses. Hardcore or not, DonMonique’s sound is acutely rugged. Indicative of her East Coast upbringing, each track maneuvers with an impermeable sense of independence -- her sound is equal parts self-aware and skeptical.

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With her first track “We Don’t," she didn’t shy away from letting this nature be known. Loud, nefarious, and palpably crowding, the beat stood under DonMonique’s in-your-face introduction. In the months to come, audiences got to know a different side of the Don. On the notorious “Pilates”, she wound down on a party beat that shouts out Kendall, Kylie and Miley as metaphors for weed, coke and Molly, respectively. Laid back or loud, DonMonique has a way of grabbing your attention, as her track “Jada" did with Detroit MC Danny Brown. Together with rapper Slayter, Brown and DonMonique teamed up on “Tha Low” to lurk through the grimy territory that lingers somewhere between his crazy and her cool. The track was featured on Thirst Trap, DonMonique’s EP that was released just last month.

Yet DonMonique isn’t bound to one style. Like Pilates, she “can make the work stretch,” and with each succeeding track, we get to know just how flexible her flavor is. “I feel like I'm really versatile because it's that balance between uptown and downtown,” she says. With a father in Brooklyn and a mother in the Bronx, DonMonique learned how to incorporate an uptown prowess into a downtown step. “I just had that little bit of diversity, and I bring that to my music,” she tells me. This versatility speaks to her persona both on and off the mic. “In person, I'm chill and I'm nice…When I get onstage, it's like, ‘Yo,’ you know I'm rowdy and rough.” Whether on stage or in the studio, her confidence remains central to her work.

Like Thirst Trap, DonMonique’s presence commands attention but begs for none. As for what’s next? “Right now, I just want to take it day by day,” she admits, “because you never know what might happen tomorrow or next month.” Whatever may come, one thing is for certain: DonMonique is doing her own thing. 

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