donnis – nippon sounds

Summers always make me nostalgic for Japanther. The last two times I’ve been there during summer months to rival Chicago’s heat index, have been life changing. Seeing the boy band who changed my life for the better, finding myself (or some BS like that), and meeting new friends has resulted in a large scrapbook (if I did scrapbook, that is) of fond memories.

Did I really just say fond?

In summer 2011, Donnis released a mixtape with a bunch of Japanese producers, Nippon Sounds. Onitsuka Tiger took the initiative by creating a cross-cultural sound for his mixtape featuring three different DJs/producers from Japan: De De Mouse, Joe Iron, and Taku Takahashi. De De Mouse, one of my favorite Japanese producers who also makes some of the happiest electronic music around, put Donnis on my radar. His rapping style is clean (not in a Will Smith, Miami, sorta way) and very biting. Not too hard but still witty enough to make me smile throughout any of his songs.

This was on repeat constantly last summer. It’s catchy as all hell, with dancey jams, summer afternoon drives, and even playable for poolside sexy time.

1. All I Need Freestyle (Baby Star’s Jam remix) – Produced by DE DE MOUSE & Luke Walker

This song makes me feel like a badass. It’s riddled with references to living that “high-class” life but there’s almost a mocking tone to it. Donnis doesn’t rap as harshly as Danny Brown, like in “Radio Song” where he’s openly looking down on rappers who make songs solely for the money and fame. Following Donnis on his Academy Black Hearts blog, you know he appreciates fashion, every type of music, and legitimate artists. The production of “All I Need” is stunning. De De Mouse’s original song, “Baby Star’s Jam” is upbeat and meant for smiles. I like how Luke Walker slowed down the vocals, and took a darker tone with the remix. Solid song.

 

2. Roll Up Poe Up (Freestyle) – Produced by Joe Iron & Luke Walker

Honestly, I didn’t really focus on Donnis’ rap on this track because I was so focused on the overall musicality of the song. That’s not to say I think any rapper could be put on top of the instrumental and make it well, because Donnis compliments the song well.

3. Gone (Before Gone Japan Mix) – Produced by DE DE MOUSE

Here we have a perfect example of classic De De Mouse production. Only he can take a song about drugs, partying, and egoism and turn it into something you bounce along to and giggle constantly. He uses as a DAW a combination of Cubase and HALion, which, as a software, makes very little sense to me. It suits his tweaking personality and production style – he’s always screwing around with his sounds and layers to create a really diverse sound. The distortions on Donnis’ vocals can get overwhelming at times if you are a fan of listening to his rap in a purist sense. However, what De De Mouse does is tough – gorgeous composition.

 

4. Ring My Bell (Invader Moon Assault Japan Remix) – Produced by TakuTakahashi

 This is the third song off the tape featuring a Japanese producer as a remixer. The song itself wasn’t a favorite of mine, but after a few listens, all I wanted to do was blast this and roll around on the floor doing primal dances. So great to drop on a hard dancefloor night, where people are willing to get sweaty and turn into disgusting individuals in the name of a good time. I’m distracted writing about this track due to the dance breaks. Sorry, be back in a bit.

Biggest bonus to this mixtape – Nippon Sounds released it for free. That’s right. Link to download is in the cover image above. Enjoy.

-jo.

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