Atlanta hip-hop artist LaDonnis began carving his niche at the dawn of the decade. Releasing his debut mixtape Diary of an ATL Brave under the direction of 10. Deep in 2009, the tape’s hit track “Gone” piqued the attention of labels and publications alike. Then, after a bidding war between a host of potential suitors, the artist then known simply as “Donnis” signed to Fool’s Gold and Atlantic Records.
With XXL tabbing him to their 2010 Freshman class alongside artists like J. Cole and Big Sean, the future appeared bright for the crossover ATLien. Upon releasing his first EP with Atlantic titled Fashionably Late, he joined the Gym Class Heroes as the opening acts aboard Bruno Mars‘ “The Doo-Wops and Hooligans Tour.” However, amidst the whirlwind of touring and recording, Donnis took a step back from the scene.
Saying he felt empty and under-compensated in the industry, the rapper put a hold on his music and moved to San Francisco, where he dropped acid, studied Ram Dass, and practiced Buddhism. He then subsequently uprooted multiple other times, moving to Hawaii, Los Angeles, and then back home to the ATL. With a deeper understanding of self as well as the world around him, LaDonnis has gained a worldly wisdom that is reflected tenfold in his latest creation.
His latest single, “Touch,” leads the way for an impending project that’s both a musical and personal rebirth. Produced by BOYBOY and mixed by Dula, the song proves to be a sonic graduation for the rolling stone. He spoke candidly about his sessions with the LA-based producer.
“We make a space that is good for light, love, and raw emotion, and then we throw ideas against the wall. I used to spend 48-72 hours in the studio during my heavy rap days. Now, it’s a few hours and we are out. I prefer this more chill life.”
Those sentiments shine through on the track. Attributing his evolution to the aforementioned intelligence outlets of Dass and LSD (along with others like Steve Jobs and Toro Y Moi), LaDonnis’ sound is refreshing and reflective, albeit the lyrics pertaining to unrequited millennial love.
“I know geographic regions and environments play a huge part in how I create my music,” he told me. “I just returned from Thailand, Korea, and Bali, and I’m about to start some new new. Travel is the best way for me to catch a new wave. But as far as being from a particular area and sounding like a native? I mean at this point isn’t most of the world living on the Internet? New York can sound like Africa, and Korea can sound like Atlanta. The singularity is near. Soon everything will be one thing.”
Peep “Touch” below, and stay ready for LaDonnis’ upcoming album A Sunny Place For Shady People.