arts & culture

FAN OF MY FRIENDS: Donwill

I have no recollection of meeting Donwill for the first time. It feels like he was always just a dope rapper everyone knows, ever since he arrived in Brooklyn from Cincinnati. A scene stalwart. I thought it might just be all the vodka I drink though, so I asked him if he recalls meeting me. He can’t call it either! “I just know it was love at first sight,” he said. “We never met, we just were.” Look at all that good Midwest pimpin’, hehe.

I remember where I was when I first heard Moonlighting, the first full album from Tanya Morgan. It was that impactful for me. Since then, he has steadily churned out great music, in the group and solo. He’s also provided music for podcasts like blackgirlnerd faves Another Round & 2 Dope Queens, and HBO’s This Week With John Oliver. He’s a popular DJ too, spinning for Wyatt Cenac’s weekly comedy show, Night Train, and together they do the hilarious Shouting At The Screen. Tanya Morgan’s new effort, YGWY$4 (You Get What You Pay For), drops July 28. “It’s an anti- hashtag acronym because we hate search engine optimization.” Donwill is so cool, and funny enough that I’m almost willing to forgive his traitorous body for rejecting avocado. Almost.

Do you love avocado, or are you a savage animal with broken taste buds?

I think that I’m allergic to them and that saddens me because when I discovered them I binged on them for a while. They are like cold-boiled eggs with an inedible yolk (at least in my mind anyway). One time we were in Denver and TiRon made an amazing batch of guacamole, and I afterwards I got really nauseous with a horrible headache. I tried again the next day and the same thing happened. Ever since, I can’t eat them w/out getting a headache. I’m not blaming my food-based allergy on TiRon ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. For the record, his guac was great and his music is amazing, you should interview him and find out why he tried to poison me.

They’re nothing like eggs. NOTHING! This is like when they asked the 40-year-old virgin about bewbs and he said they feel like sand. You’re an avocado interloper! But okay. Name a perfect song, and defend that song.

While it’s not even in his most popular Spotify songs, “Baby Be Mine” by Michael Jackson is hands down the greatest song ever recorded. There isn’t much to defend regarding this record because this is a time tested fact—the horn arrangements, the way the synth line turns into actual words in each successive hook, the modulation at the end, the cowbell that sneaks in midway through keep you moving. It’s fucking masterful.

Rod Temperton gave the Manhattans a version of this song called “Spice of Life,” and it makes “Baby Be Mine” even more spectacular because it was already a great song, but he went back and made it bulletproof. I have been known to play this song for hours on end (deadass) and it is the easiest way to change my mood at any given moment.

Who’s going to play you in the biopic?

In the past, I would have said Hill Harper or Prodigy but with the rise of Rachel Dolezal I’d like to submit dark-skinned Sammy Sosa and announce that I am officially the Dominican Dolezal. It should also be noted that I should have been cast as Eazy-E in the NWA movie and Eazy-E follows me on Instagram and is actively liking my photos as we speak. I live a crazy life.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

I pull my phone from under my pillow, look at the time, check who emailed/texted me, then I go back to sleep or lay and think for like 30 minutes. This is also the time where I either assess my hangover or prioritize my activities.

Talk about a time you were star struck.

I saw Raphael Saadiq once at LAX. He was holding mad bags and a coffee and I walked up to him, held out my hand and was like “I’m a huge fan,” and I kept my hand out until he shook it. He looked super annoyed and Von was like, “Man you just pissed off one of your idols for a handshake.” But I regret nothing. Later as I boarded the plane, he was sitting in first class and as I walked past I gave him the Black man head nod, he shot me one back with a slight smirk. Again, I regret nothing.

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever given someone?

A child. She’s awesome, but hella expensive for everybody involved. I’m still waiting to see what the ROI is but it’s looking good so far so *fingers crossed*.

Give Machinko some good advice.

Consistency is more important than quality, and in most instances your level of output actually defines the quality. If you’re great once, it’s gotta have an impact that shifts the culture, but if you’re good all the time (and more importantly in a timely fashion) people will know that they can count on you to get their fix.

Punctuality is important too. I’m punctual to a fault, and I can usually tell you the exact time that I’ll be at a place even with travel delays. Time is more valuable than money, and not only do I respect it as such but I expect other people to as well. I got shit to do, b.

What human would you trade lives with, and why?

Pharrell Williams. I know he’s a real person, but he just doesn’t seem like a real person. It’s hard to even put into words, but like he has defined eras of music and is respected across several genres. Impeccable style, super inventive, and extremely forward thinking. I believe we all have universes inside of us and whereas most of us are trying to get it all out or even show a sliver of our greatness, his entire universe is on full display. It’s pretty amazing.

Name a celebrity you think is lame, and why.

That orange nigga they elected as their president. Fuck that nigga, man. Fuck him as a staff, record label and a muthafuckin’ crew. I refuse to call him the president. Nigga has no respect for the office or the people he serves. He’s treating the Oval Office like it’s a cubicle, man. Fuck that bitch ass nigga, man.

The church says amen. What thing do you love that you think would surprise people about you?

Kennedy Fried Chicken aka the real KFC. Not Crown’s, but Kennedy, the one by my house more specifically. Popeye’s is overrated as fuck, but Kennedy gets it right. This is the hill that I have chosen to die on, so y’all gonna just have to respect it or check it.

Check out more Fan of My Friends with the inimitable MeLa Machinko.