DonMonique May Only Be 21, But She’s Got The Rap Game Feeling Thirsty
The rooftop lounge of the hip, waterfront Williamsburg venue otherwise known as Output is packed with every type of person you’d expect to find lounging on a rooftop on a Friday night. Tumblr beauties with blue hair and mirrored sunglasses, denim-clad bros still tan from a weekend spent outside city limits, shifty photographers glancing around for their next moment that needs remembering, hip hop heads bobbing up and down to the undulating swing of turn up jams, and the casually clad travelers who heard tell of a Mecca by the water with no cover and free entertainment who don’t even know what this whole evening is about: DonMonique, a 21-year-old New York rapper who’s only been rapping for a year, but has already created her own genre of music called Thirst Trap.
Even though she’s new to the game, DonMonique packs a punch. Her songs are filled with attitude, and laced with the sexy charm you’d expect from somebody who “came up on some modeling shit” not so much because she wanted to be a model, but because she looked like a girl you wanted to take pictures of.
She has 21.5K followers on Instagram, she’s successfully solicited a verse from Danny Brown, and her debut EP Thirst Trap created such a splash that even the New York Times wanted to f-ck with her. Get to know DonMonique now, because this girl is poised and ready to not just take New York, but claim the crown right from Queen Nicki‘s head.
So, congratulations on turning 21. How does it feel? Are you excited?
Yeah, I’m excited. I’m excited to go places now without being like, “you think they gonna get me in, because you know, I’m not 21 yet.”
Has that been problematic, performing around the city?
Like when I’m performing at a club, or something like that, it’s easy to get in, but there’s still a little bit of complications. It’ll be like, okay, you’re performing tonight, but we’re still watching for you at the bar – so, yeah there’s always a catch.
What was it like growing up in New York?
It was…it was fun. Well, I never went anywhere else, so I can’t really compare it. Like I can literally count the times on my hand where I left New York. But I feel like it made me real independent and shit, just like having to take the train back and forth – even today, we were trying to get a cab over here, but nobody would stop for us, so we had to get on the f-ckin train. Shit like that.
So I know you only seriously started rapping like a year ago, was there a moment when you were just like, damn, I need to start taking this thing more seriously?
Like, I always wanted to do music, but I never knew how to go about it because like, you know everybody does music now, so I was like, if I was to do it, I want like a real song with a hook, and some verses and a chorus, shit like that. But I just never knew how to do about it, how to get into the studio with like, real people and shit – and then I met my manager, but it was on some modeling shit, like Karmaloop or something, but he happened to be in the industry, so I was like, I wanna rap, and he was like, yeah, okay I guess.
So we mobbed out for like a year, because he was like, I can’t just put you in the studio when you have no songs and nobody knows who you are like, we got to see your face before I can make it happen for you. So for a year I showed my face at all the events and clubs and shit, and then he put me in the studio, we had this song idea. I did it. We mixed and mastered it. And I put it out on my birthday last year when I turned 20, and ever since then, I’ve just taken it seriously because there’s always something to do. I worked hard as soon as I got the opportunity.
Speaking of “We Don’t” how would you say your sound has evolved in the year since you’ve been out?
When i first started rapping, i thought i wanted to just do like straight trap music, trap beats, just be like this trap girl. And then as I started spending time in the studio finding my sound, I realized you don’t have to be on a trap beat to be trap, you know what I’m saying?
So um I started doing more boom bag, just more minimal stuff, like Pilates.
Is it like crazy at all that now big outlets like the NYTimes are paying attention?
It’s crazy, especially being from New York. It’s like, The New York Times? I see that everywhere, but I never thought I would be in it, you know? Especially around a time like this, so early in the game. And then it was on some shit where it wasn’t even an interview – like they wrote a piece on me. They had to do some research to put that together. So it was like, well shit.
So tell me a little bit about Thirst Trap, how did that all come together?
Thirst Trap is like my own genre of music. Because I feel like when you hear one song of mine, you just want to hear more and more. And then that word, or that phrase, right now is real popular on social media, so I just took something and made it into my own.
Yeah, that’s smart. Create your own branding.
Yeah. And it’s like a popular word, so people at first are like, “oh, she’s calling this thirst trap?” But then you listen, and see why I called it thirst trap, it’s like, “oh, shit, okay, thirst trap.”
Where did the idea for the album artwork (link) cover come from? You look like such a bad bitch.
Haha. It’s a Diddy remake. Diddy had that picture, and it was all over the Internet. I’m like, I have to redo this picture, but i didn’t want to just do a shoot with it, it had to be my cover art for something and I’m like, Thirst Trap – this picture is Thirst Trap. Everything just came all together with that, it was a mix of everything: the cover art, the music, the beats. Everything.
So I know that when you’re a rapper, or any popular artist, the persona you put forward in your music is very important. How would you describe yours?
I feel like I’m grimey, but chill. Like, a lot of people call me deadpan or too cool to care, shit like that. But I feel like, with my new music I’m gonna be putting out more personality, because I don’t want people to be calling me boring, or shit. But I feel like, I’m chillin because that’s how I am in real life, so in my raps, I just be chillin’ too.
Do you feel any pressure as a female rapper to fit into a certain image?
Sometimes, you know when other people just say shit. But me personally, I don’t look at other rappers and think, “Oh, I gotta to do that” ‘cause they doin’ that. I’m just gonna do my own thing, ‘cause doing my thing’s gotten me this far already, you know?
So, what’s your dream career-wise? Is it really to make $50K a show?
I’m just taking it day by day right now because you never know what’s gonna happen next week, next month. Cause I never woulda imagined being in the New York Times or having Danny Brown be on my first tape.
Yeah, how did that happen?
Did he call you or what?
He followed me on Twitter first.
And it’s Twitter, so I didn’t know if it was an accident or what, so I looked at his page and saw he followed a lot of people, so I’m like, maybe he just saw me on Instagram and thought I looked cool. But a week later he followed me on Instagram, so I’m like, okay, he knows what’s up. So I DMd him and I was just like, so I’m working on my EP, I have this track for you, and it’d be dope if you listened to it and sent me back a verse. And he was like this is dope, ima have something back by the weekend. It was real like genuine. It’s crazy how he fucked with me so early in the game and I only had three songs out.
So, what’s next for you? Is it time for you to be done with Thirst Trap and on to the next one?
No, we got new videos coming! All for Thirst Trap. I can’t wait. 50 Kay is one of the songs we making a video to, and of course “Drown” because that’s the song. And it’s crazy because “Drown” is everybody’s favorite off the tape, and it was actually just a filler track. I did that like, two days before it came out on some “I need to make up a song to fill up this shit” thing. The track list came out before I was even finished, so I was like, I don’t know, name number 3 drown or something. So we had a song that didn’t even exist and the track list is out already. So Two days before I’m like, I need to make a song that revolves around this f-cking title. And it’s crazy that that’s what’s one of the most popular songs on the tape.
You never know what people are gonna like.
Yeah, it’s crazy.