For many women, entering a male dominated space can be difficult to navigate. But with a strong will, there is always a way. NYC-based rapper DonMonique is not just immersing herself in the world of hip hop, but she is dominating with talent that can’t be ignored. From having her own Noisey documentary to being picked to perform at fashion week parties by Alexander Wang himself, Don is creating her own lane and doing it with finesse. Her Debut EP, Thirst Trap, is an anthem to new wave feminists everywhere who would rather get their own, than wait for a man to provide.
Although rapping was not her initial dream, she came to realize the power she had to tell stories about her life and what she's experienced in a way that people could understand. “I would always rap at the lunch tables when I was in middle and high school. I pretty much knew every Lil Wayne song word for word, but I never expected to be doing music professionally,” says Don. On her 20th birthday, she decided to drop her debut track that introduced the world to a talent many hadn’t seen before.
Part of her passion for music came from growing up in New York City; a city that inspired and motivated her. “There is music all around in New York. You’re not really in a car much in the city, so you’re rarely listening to the radio. However, when you're on the train, you see people performing, people bumping their favorite tracks out loud, and just the overall culture of the city has bred some of the most talented artists. From the fashion to the people, it’s very inspiring. Hip hop is what it is today partially because of New York.”
It's obvious from listening to some of Don’s tracks that she takes inspiration from the early days in hip hop, as her raps take you back to the likes of Lil Kim and other '90s icons. When asked if she could go back to any era, she said, “I would want to relive my era and really take everything in. I loved the fashion and music from the early '00s, so if anything, I would want to be born maybe four years earlier in 1990. I feel like life was simpler back then, and there was no social media so things were more raw.”
“Girls need to come together and collaborate more. You see five dudes on one track, but you rarely ever see women doing that and uplifting one another. If girls did that, it would be amazing."
Her sophpmore EP, Black Kate Moss, is due to drop in March and she is taking a different approach from what she did on Thirst Trap. “The idea behind Black Kate Moss comes from a number of things, including what's happening in the world today. We are seeing increased activism, especially because of Trump and the Black Lives Matter movement, and I wanted to put on for the girls of my color to show them that they have value - to not listen to what other people think of them.”
Don is using her platform as a way to show women of color that their narratives matter, and to take risks regardless of the obstacles. “I think we're seeing more female rappers now than ever before. I feel like if I have the power to put on for girls of my color and represent them, I want to push that. There is nothing wrong with embracing your sexuality and showing your nipples. I feel like more women have to be comfortable in their skin.”
Don also opens up about what it took for her to learn to love herself despite social standards. “Everything that I’m doing with Black Kate Moss is for the girl out there who doesn’t have someone to tell her she is beautiful. Growing up, I wish I had someone tell me, 'its okay to have dark skin - that is beautiful, too.' I had insecurities in high school because of my skin tone, and if I had someone tell me it's okay to be yourself, then I wouldn’t have went through as much.”
Ultimately, Don wants to use her music as a tool to uplift all women to come together and celebrate each other rather than bring one another down. “Girls need to come together and collaborate more. You see five dudes on one track, but you rarely ever see women doing that and uplifting one another. If girls did that, it would be amazing.”
Don has a lot planned this year, from visuals to more music and even a movie. There’s no doubt that she's planting seeds that are bound to bloom. For DonMonique, being a MISSBISH means being empowered and taking charge. We can definitely expect more power moves from this queen in 2017.
Outfit 2 | Jacket: Balenciaga, Sweater: Psycho Bunny, Pants: adidas, Sunglasses: RETROSUPERFUTURE