In a world where old-guard rap heads attempt to blur the lines between Hip-Hop and modern art, tossing around various names & prices of long-dead artists and their pieces, it seems as though we’ve lost sight of what we’re all listening for: Raps. If you’ve been listening to recent mainstream rap records and pining for the simpler days rich with rhymes about wave caps, braids, and wanting to commit suicide, then Donny Murakami might be just what you’ve been searching for.
Donny Murakami: “Vicious”
Donny lifts the second half of his stage name from contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, though perhaps making a lie out of his handle, he could seem to care less about “art”; at least not enough to sprinkle it across his raps. His latest project, entitled Long Forgotten, seems more focused on delivering every one of his early 2000s fantasies at a rapid-fire (sometime incomprehensible) pace. Murakami flips his ill tongue-twisting rhymes over a strange gumbo of beats, ranging all the way from Mike Jones samples, to screwed Toro Y Moi tracks, to tracks that could be mistaken for unreleased Dipset album cuts. His topics bounce back and forth from luxury raps full of bitches & Hennessey, to nearly depressing lines about wanting to get high but only having $3. The combination is perplexing.
Though Long Forgotten isn’t Murakami’s first mixtape, it’s his most cohesive project to date, where he had mostly been posting loose tracks on his Soundcloud page in the two years since his last project. At 19 years old, Donny likely has his fair share of real world issues distracting from his raps (some discussed on the tape, though it’s hard to tell when he’s being serious). It’s difficult to say what made him finally sit down and focus on a full project, but I’m personally pleased he did. Read my Interview with him below.
“I grew up listening to a lot of the same things I like now”
Where do you reside right now and how does it affect your creative output?
I Reside in Rochester NY at the moment. I feel like I’ve had a lot of experiences that have affected my life since I moved here from Indiana as a child. It was kind of a culture shock to be honest. As far as creatively I think it comes from poverty and getting creative to make things work when my mom couldn’t afford it, like taping my jeans and coloring it black whenever they tore. It’s not that extreme anymore I just apply the same thing to music and whatever else and work with what I have.
Tell me about Long Forgotten (writing/recording process, title choice, etc…)
The title Long Forgotten just refers to a coming of age since my first project. I recorded [my first project] when I was 16 and I had a lot less to worry about. I’m still the same but as far as things like views on life, society, habits and things of that nature, I picked up a lot of things in a span of 3 years. The good and the bad. As far as the recording process I literally decided to knock them out 1 by 1. I wrote about 3 songs a day at most because I was sleep deprived and would go about 4 days without sleep, take a nap in between then get back to it. My work ethic is mildly obsessive. It just took a lot of Black & Mild’s and whatever substance I could get my hands on honestly. I seriously finished it in 2 and a half weeks.
Do you think the (mild) substance abuse had any effect on your rhymes?
Not really. Maybe my subject matter but not tremendously because it’s just one of my vices at the moment. I’m sober 80% of the time.
Donny Murakami: “Pay Per Write” (Ft. Just Leek & Ishmael Raps)
You wiped your Soundcloud page clean a couple times prior to the release of LF. What’s the reason for this?
I don’t even know why I did that. I was just having a bad day and I was salty that the tape was going unnoticed. It’s my fault though. I’m just in the moment a lot of the time. I’ve lost a lot of my music strictly off being a hot head. A lot of the time I don’t feel like my music is that important to people but I respect everybody who listens.
What songs did you produce on the tape? Where’d the other beats come from?
I produced “Pay Per Write” and “Suicide Hotline”. The original plan was to produce everything but this tape was an idea I conceived a couple weeks after I thought about it. I wanted to provide people with something before I decided to get into production a bit more. I found the rest of the beats off Soundcloud searching extensively.
Has anyone from Soundcloud ever pressed you about using their beat (without permission)?
No, but if they did I wouldn’t care. I’ve told people after I’ve stole their beat just to see what would happen and I’ve gotten good responses. As long as they know I’m not profiting from anything I’m making I don’t think they should be mad. I’m just having fun.
“I wanted to basically make my music video one big selfie”
What did you grow up listening to? Is it vastly different from what you bump now, or relatively the same?
I grew up listening to a lot of the same things I like now. I was listening to shit like D Block, The Lox, and Three six Mafia. I messed with Drought 3 Lil Wayne the hardest. A friend of my mom’s gave me [Clipse] Lord Willing when it first dropped and as a kid and I was hooked. It’s sad though because at that time I didn’t like Pharrell but didn’t know he was producing all their stuff. I got hooked on the Neptunes after I got into skateboarding in like 7th grade though. I went through a lot of phases. I used to love Korn and Suicidal Tendencies. I like Turnstile now and Sunbather by Deaf Heaven is tight. I’ll forever love Black Sabbath and Incubus. Also, Charles Hamilton is still tight to me. My taste in music sucks but it’s always been relatively the same. I just like whatever sounds good to me.
What would you say influenced your current flow the most?
I honestly don’t know what influenced it. Just life and my tendency to ramble about things in an unorthodox fashion. Lately I’ve been working on my ODB/early Busta Rhymes flows but my voice isn’t that strong so it sucks.
Tell me about how you came up with the idea for the Wavy Forever video.
My influence was really just being on my MacBook every day. I never had one so soon as I got one I’ve been trying to use it to its best capabilities. I take a lot of PhotoBooth selfies too so I wanted to basically make it one big selfie. It came out better than imagined though. I didn’t really think about it I just executed. One thing I noticed though, is how close it is to the Teriyaki Boyz “I Still Love H.E.R.” video. I think my 13 year old self unconsciously may have drawn some inspiration from that video. Only real niggas know about the Teriyaki Boyz. ▲