Late nights yield surprises.

Saturday evening was spent soaking up the shiny new sound of Donnis. His new album, 10.Deep Presents: Diary of an ATL Brave came out of the ether and jumped onto my radar with a massive blip. First I heard “Sexytime,” a hilarious song with a chorus of “I’m gon’ bring some friends some of mine/ And we gon’ have sexytime/ You can bring some friends of yers/ and we gon’ have some sex occur/ ‘Cause girl I got Patron in my cup/ I’m all dr-own up/ and you know I’m tryin’ to fuck/ So what’s the hold-up?”

At the end of the song, like bonus material on a DVD, Donnis breaks down in a gale of giggles. It’s like he fell laughing out of the recording booth after singing such lyrics, and that is excellent. Nothing is better than hearing people who can laugh at themselves. The whole room relaxes a little.

A banger called “Country Cool” came on next. As soon as the song started, I thought, “this sounds like…” and then Donnis answered my question when he said “you know the home of Country Grammar.” Indeed. Nelly was who I was thinking of, esp. when the “chorus” rolled around, which is nothing but Donnis saying “ah” “ah “ah” “uh” “uh” “ah” in a harmonic fashion, while a quick-paced clap crushes along. It’s awesome, but explaining it in print does the vocal no justice. The same issue comes up describing certain lyrics from Nelly and the band Pinback, where the sounds of the words are more important than the actual meanings. Needless to say, the chorus is stickier than flypaper, and don’t be surprised if you catch yourself humming it aloud at random moments, frightening friends and strangers alike.

Bringing a fat stamp of approval, Bun B. makes a for a swell ‘featuring’ in “Country Cool.” He literally appears out of nowhere, with no ad-libs to hint at his upcoming guest spot, a big ol’ “yeah, Bun B, king of the trill transmittin’/ Live from Texas where them boy’s ain’t bullshittin.'” His voice has always reminded me of Nate Dogg’s, all deep and boss-declarative. It’s great hearing him own it in the midst of a such an infectious party song, where Donnis advises wacky people to “just pick your coffin out.”

Two songs into it, I was hooked. Then “Gone” came on, a joint which could easily make Donnis famous. It’s got a starshot, laser-beamed beat, complete with an ethereal synth choir and a T.I.-flavored bounce. “In the middle of the club blowin’ indo/ Rolling up a Swisher Sweet as fat as Mr. Winslow/ ‘Cause right now only Family Matters/ And all these other niggers pissed ’cause they got little bladders” says Donnis, and all is well at the club for winter 2009. The chorus of “We gone, let’s get some green/ Let’s get some drink/ Let’s get it on/ Say tonight we gon get goin, goin gone/ Say tonight we gon get going, going gone” makes for a catchy, neon-lettered chant, complete with a surprisingly un-annoying T-Pain filter. Meanwhile, underneath the bed, a tinkling stew of whirling space sound effects heightens the drama, bolstered by a campy, yet key, 70s-style haunted house organ.

Similar to the fun-yet-clever lyrics, the production throughout the album is top shelf. It’s the kind of stuff they keep in the back, until someone asks for it by name up front. Then you got to pay, but boy is it worth it. I’m not sure who did the beats for Donnis, or if he did them himself, but it’s safe to say they was done proper. Feel free to break him out on the hi-fi next weekend, right at that critical point in the night where A. the party ends or B. the afterparty is christened.

A B beats out an A, in this case.

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– Matt Lehtola


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