ALBUM: Diary of an Atlanta Brave
SOUNDS LIKE: Dungeon Family x T.I. x B.O.B.
FUN FACT: Although born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Donnis didn't start officially rapping until he was stationed in Japan while on duty with the Army.
WHY COMPLEX IS CO-SIGNING IT: Because when you see a mixtape from a relatively unknown rapper with original production by big name producers, it usually means either of two things. 1. The no-name rapper was just signed to the producer's label or management team, or 2. The producers thought the rapper was sick enough to get a couple beats gratis. We're not positive, but we're sure Atlanta native Donnis falls into the latter category. Either way, once we saw a video of him in the studio with Just Blaze and then peeped that his 10 Deep sponsored debut mixtape, Diary of an Atlanta Brave featured production from J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and Needles, we had to see what everyone saw in this dude. And after listening to the eclectic, but steadfastly southern 12 track offering, we can clearly see why everyone wants to work with him...
2009 has been the year of the style conscious "everyman" rapper, as a deluge of new talent have broken through with rhymes about any and everything from their heartfelt dealings with girls to where they cop their sneakers and why they're that much fresher than the next man. Most people have taken to calling them hipster rappers. Donnis, who doesn't rap about his fresh as much as the others, deads that labeling on the smokey, piano-anchored opening track "The Beginning" where he raps: "First of all, you can miss me with that hipster shit, say it again and you bound to see some nigga shit." And from there Donnis uses most of the mixtape to state his case as to why he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the most visible newcomers in the game. He even name drops three of them on the brassy, up-tempo "Underdog": "So Cudi's on the moon and Drake's so far gone, I'm finally famous like my boy Big Sean," but not before proclaiming: "hip hop's my house, you just a tenant, bitch!"
But the whole album isn't unrelenting proclamations of how ill he is, of course. Towards the end of the project, a few tracks are dedicated to the ladies who he hopes will take a liken to his southern twang. "Sexytime" has him spitting game over a smooth jazzy J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League production while "Song For Every Ex" sees Donnis looking back on past break ups with a remorseful eye. Tracks like these usually wind up being exceptionally cheesy, but thanks to great beat selections, good chorus' and Donnis not taking himself too seriously, they turn out to be worthwhile. We wish there was more on the tape about his past life and what he's been through that brought him up to this point, but if the career trajectory of the other popular new comers in the game is any indication, we'll be hearing a lot more from this ATL Brave in the future.