Donny Goines: The Heart Of The City

Rappers nowadays are a dime a dozen. You only have to look to the bootleggers on 125th Street in Harlem to understand just how over populated the blocks and streets of every town and every city are. And in New York City, the Hip-Hop Mecca, rappers, lyricists, MCs, whatever you want to call them are […]

Rappers nowadays are a dime a dozen.

You only have to look to the bootleggers on 125th Street in Harlem to

understand just how over populated the blocks and streets of every town

and every city are. And in New York City, the Hip-Hop Mecca, rappers,

lyricists, MCs, whatever you want to call them are literally having to

‘sing for their supper.’


Hip-Hop pretty much selling its soul to the powers that be, there are

some lyricists who just refuse to give up on their so called

‘constitutional rights’ and deny their creativity. Donny Goines stands firm in that group.


aren’t something Donny Goines dwells on, but he has them, mixtapes and

showcases weren’t his path of choice to get his name out there, but he

isn’t adverse to them. This New Yorker just grinds. Using the Internet

as his means to an end, doesn’t necessarily make him an Internet rapper

as some might think, he was just dead set on making his mark using

whatever means possible. Songs like


knows he has a battle on his hands being from a city that fights with

its own ego every time the day dawns, but that doesn’t make him falter.

He came into the game with a mission on his mind and nothing is going

to stop him from shedding the stigmatism that surrounds Hip-Hop and the

somewhat forgotten soldiers of New York City. On your joint “Back In The Day” you give the impression that your knowledge of Hip-Hop runs really deep. Where did your love for the music come from?


Goines: To be honest I first fell in love with Hip-Hop in general

watching the people on my block freestyling. Coming up I wasn’t really

digging the music, I was big into school and then when I started seeing

the reaction of people on my block to those freestyling it really

intrigued me. From that point right there I started to listen to more

of the music and that was basically where it all came from. Whereabouts in NY are you from?


Goines: I was born in Manhattan but I grew up in the Bronx and in

Harlem. I was in the Bronx as a teenager and then I grew up as a man in


How important is it for you to be representing New York then right now,

both as a fan of the music and then as an artist?


Goines: It is very important. In all honesty I do a lot of research; I

read a lot of websites and magazines. I look at these and they cover

every other region besides New York that it is almost to the point that

New York rappers are stigmatized now; they can’t seem to get the

certain light that they need. I definitely feel like, I mean let’s not

get it twisted, I am not trying to bring New York back, but I do want

to represent New York well, once I am in a position to do so. Being

from New York it is only right. Do you think ego has a lot to do with where New York is in Hip-Hop right now?


Goines: Of course, it is a lot of ego. The truth of the matter is, a

lot of these artists, they can’t see other people shining, they can’t

see other people doing well; they have to hate. As much as I love New

York City, that is just the city of New York right now, they are

hating. A lot of times I think ego has a lot to do with it. You know if

people were down to earth and humble, New York was reigning for a long

time and it is not so much about regional, it is just about who is

making good music. Some of the top Hip-Hop artists that are making

noise right now, look at Joell Ortiz,

he is making noise, he is doing well and he is just sticking true to

what he knows and I think that is what a lot of New Yorkers in rap need

to do, they need to put their ego aside. DO you think Hip-Hop is following the same path as opposed to like you are saying, staying true to themselves?


Goines: I think 90% of them are following trends and that is an issue I

think was important to me to address. One of my songs is called “F**k

New York” and the reason I made that song was because a lot of people

are not saying true to who they are like, they are following the South

influenced records and I feel like New York as a whole has lost its

identity. The people who are in power and the people who have the most

power are making us look bad and that was something I had to address

and I will address it as long as it is going on. I gotta thank Benny

Blanco of Pilot Creative for helping me create that record because they

really helped me create that record at the last minute though. Do you think Hip-Hop as a whole is losing its identity now and not just New York?


Goines: I can’t really say that as the south is doing the south and it

is not just regional like I said before. I don’t hear a West coast

artist sounding like a down south artist. For the most part I think

everyone is standing true to their own culture and their own set but I

feel New York in general is bothered by that, not Hip-Hop as a whole. Saying that does that make your job as an MC harder, being that you are from New York?


Goines: Very hard. I feel like in all honesty that I am stigmatized. I

am put in a certain bracket and I feel like I don’t deserve to be

looked at or judged that way and I feel like I should be judged on my

music and what I do. It’s like the same with Myspace for instance; I

got my start on Myspace and I will be on there and people look at me as

a Myspace rapper. Yeah an ‘Internet rapper.’


Goines: Exactly and I feel a lot of time that coming from New York,

when I hear that it just makes me work a lot harder. When I hit the

booth I just write harder as I want people to understand that it is not

where I am from, it is what I am saying and it is what I do. How can you break the stigmatism then?


Goines: I think all you can do is make good music and stay true to

yourself. It is sad that it is the way it is, but I am not doing any

publicity stunts, I am not doing any crazy things I am just going to do

me. And at the end of the day I just feel that talent and passion and

drive will eventually make its way to the forefront and people will

realize that I am a talented artist regardless of where I am from. How hard has your struggle been so far?


Goines: To be honest this has been the hardest thing I have ever done

in my life. I swear to God I have been in the military, had family

dealing with drug problems, all of that; but for me to overcome this,

it has been a very hard goal. From the beginning when I started I just

bought an I Mac and I had three songs and that was in January of 06 and

from there I had a full time job working and I was doing that and doing

the myspace thing 8-10 hours a day when I first started. I was doing

that to get my buzz up and from that point I had went out to Cali to a

conference that I was invited to on the strength of a couple of songs.

I went out there, not knowing anyone, by myself. I was really

networking and that was where I met one of my mentors, Bishop Lamonte

who is down with Dre’s camp. Coming back I tried all sort of things, I

did internet concepts and I got The Source Unsigned Hype from a thing I

won and I was doing all kinds of shows. I did the Apollo Amateur Night

where I got booed off stage and then on top of doing all this hustling

I had to get a job to maintain myself. That turned out to be a job

working for one of my good friends Disco D who has recently departed. So how did you hook up with Bishop?


Goines: I had been invited to that conference and there was all these

panels and it was in Palm Springs and I had gone out there for a week.

I sent some CDs out there so they could use them as stuffers and I was

really hustling. Towards the end of the conference there was this panel

and the people on the panel, there was Bishop Lamont, Kevin Black,

A&R’s were there from Def Jam and I met Mike Clarke from

Swishahouse. Anyhow Kevin Black said something like if this had been

his conference he would have had a panel that played strictly just

unsigned music and I decided I had to have my music played. So they had

some questions at the end and I just said I wasn’t interested in the

radio, I just cared about my peers critiquing my music or one of my

songs. So they ended up playing one of my songs and people were

listening and they cut it off after the first verse. Good feedback then?


Goines: Well out of one to five, I didn’t get anything less than a

three. So that was how I got to work with Bishop as he said it took a

lot of courage to do what I did. The audience seemed to really like it

as again I got nothing less than a three from them as well. After the

panel, Bishop’s brother came up to me and gave me Bishop’s info and I

spoke to Bishop’s Mom too as they really felt what I did, just standing

up like that. I went up to Bishop and we spoke and we exchanged details

and ever since I met him he has been giving me guidance. Do you think having a mentor is important for an up and coming artist?


Goines: With things like that, but as far as him being my friend, I

have never really depended on any other artist to help me build up my

buzz. I have just recently asked him to jump on a record with me but

that is because I have just already established myself as an artist.

That is something I pride myself on. Whoever my peers are I don’t want

to rely on others to establish myself as an artist. So is it important to have the guidance and not necessarily the co-sign?


Goines: Yeah it is. Another one of my mentors was Disco D. My

relationship with D started as an employee/employer relationship and

from that point we really became great friends. I practically lived at

his house/home studio and I would be there while I was working my own

career. He was a mentor and a lot of times he would walk me into

labels, like Def Jam and Jive and I would sit in sessions where he was

mixing records for Trick Daddy and Lil Scrappy and he would really

teach me a lot of things and not so much music because at the time he

was really busy; but he would teach me the business. It was just one of

those relationships I took as much knowledge from as I could. I think

it is very important to have a mentor so when people look to me for

guidance I will help them out just as people have done for me.

As a rapper, you are now being I want to say ‘advised,’ and I do use

that term very loosely, as to what you should rap about, what words you

can use, how the art of lyricism should be perceived from a parents

stand point due to recent events. How did you feel when you started to

get wind of what people like Russell Simmons were implying?


Goines: I am going to answer this in two parts. As an entertainer, it

is not my responsibility; it is not on me to educate people and give

information. I don’t have to do that as it is not my job. But as a

person and as the person I am I feel like I am in a position to shed

light on the subject and that is why I made the song ‘Ni**as, Bi***es,

H**s.’ I feel the whole issue is like this; if you are going to censor

one group you are going to have to censor all. It shouldn’t be a case

that rappers are just censored because there is an issue with rappers.

Like I said in my song, Quentin Tarrentino and Martin Scorsese, in

their scripts, they include the word ni**a. Desperate Housewives and a

lot of shows say the word B**ch on the show and H8e is another word

used, it is just a part of life. Yet to stigmatize one group I feel it

is completely unfair. So you would say rap is being victimized right now?


Goines: Yes I feel that is exactly what it is. I feel like I am being

violated of my constitutional rights to be quite honest. For instance I

was reading an article on about how Jadakiss was stopped

from performing. It is just like an epidemic right now.


Goines: Yeah it is insane. I don’t understand as that was a charity

event. How could you do that? To censor people is completely unfair and

that is why I made the song I made. You can not be hypocrites and make

money off this and people have been doing this, then they are going to

target us as whole I don’t think it is right. As a citizen I have the

right to voice my opinion and that is where I am with that. What is your situation right now?


Goines: I am pretty much just doing me, as far as labels are concerned.

People might think I am chasing a deal or whatever, but to be quite

honest, if I had my own money and I had my own resources, I wouldn’t

want to be signed. I wouldn’t want people put censors on me, putting

restraints on me as that is why I left the military. So as far as

labels are concerned, I need them to be what I want to be. A couple of

people have hit me up to submit music etc, but nothing major just yet. You have only been taking this serious since ’06 then?


Goines: Yeah since Jan ’06. What happened was in 2004 I was in a group

and what happened was I didn’t know how to format songs, I mean I had

always rapped around my block and stuff like that, the normal. But a

good friend of mine Bigga Threat, who is signed to Vacant Lot Records,

Dame Grease’s label and I kind of came up under him as far as

formatting my songs. He was my very first mentor when it came to the

music. You know I was learning through him and I am trying to format

songs and I had never really done any real songs at that point. The

thing with him was he got incarcerated and when that happened I had

only been with him for three or four months, so when that happened I

was essentially alone and I kind of gave up on the idea. I didn’t know

what to do. I was in Westchester and I was going to rent a movie and I

happened to see the movie Fade to Black; so I licked it up. I went home

and watched it and it really inspired me. Then that night I wrote the

song Inspiration that very night and then I bought a computer and then

that has been it ever since. The Internet has been very important to you hasn’t it?


Goines: Well I am a person who tends to watch things and observe and

listen and learn and at that time I thought the internet was the best

route for me. A lot of people do take the showcase route, they do take

the mixtape way, but that wasn’t something I wanted to have myself

associated with at that time. So I bought me a computer and hustled

hard. From that point I started alone and did what I did and I got here

from hard work and hustling basically and here I am being interviewed

by you.

You have some tracks from well known producers, Kwame, Benny Blanco;

how important do you think it is to have a big name connected to your



Goines: At first when I started I never had any name people on my

tracks. I was just going around based on talent, so I was literally

doing whatever I could and to this day it is still all about the music

for me. I don’t care if you are a Scott Storch or if you are an unknown

producer from 130th and Lexington, I don’t care as long as the music is

hot. The thing is that I have noticed, especially when I had hired my

manager, Hannibal Jack Danz, who is a song writer and has relationships

with a lot of these producers; I realized that even though my music was

good, these “industry” people are looking for names. It doesn’t matter

how good you are, they want to see names and they want to see this and

that and it was at that point I started working with the named

producers. But honestly I just like good music and I think it is good

to have a good name producer as it looks good on the resume; but as far

as my myself personally, all I care about is if the music sounds good.

I have been very fortunate to work with some great producers, I mean I

never had the chance to work with Disco D but I do have tracks from

him. I have tracks from Ron Browz, Scram Jones (“Slow Down”), Kwame (“Sweat It Out”) and I have tracks with Neek Rush, the guy who did the “Ni**as, B**ch, H**s”

joint. He was one of the first producers to believe in me and he gave

me a shot and then there is another producer called Fury who believed

in me and I work with him. I think at this point people are starting to

believe in me and they are willing to work with me and it is a

beautiful thing.

Donny Goines Myspace Page is