SuperCity: Donnis brings NYC vibe to Hawaii
BY CHRISTA WITTMIER / Special to the Star-Advertiser
We all tend to get lost in our online world sometimes, scrolling away on our phones from the second we wake up until the last moments before sleep. So it doesn’t surprise me to hear younger generations talking about the current stalemate in Honolulu nightlife.
“There’s nothing new,” a 22-year-old regular on the scene told me recently over drinks at Bevy. “There’s nothing fun.”
‘RATCHET TWERK RAVE 3000’
Presented by In4mation and Fool’s Gold Records
» Where: Ong King, 184 N. King St.
While I am constantly in the trenches digging up what’s hot — and trust me, there’s plenty happening — I did find myself stalling a bit. There is still at least one place every night that goes off consistently (and for which we should all be grateful), but most are the same spots as last year, or even two years ago.
And so, the only retort I could drum up was that young people need to keep their heads up. We are seeing less and less people willing to get off their phones to go try something new. Any seasoned promoter will tell you that building a base of support takes a lot of work. Some who spend their money going out at night are trading bottle service with fair-weather friends for neighborhood bars with quality company. Hustlers are trading risk-taking for steady-paying, honest work.
Those who understand what it takes to succeed in our scene are growing up and starting families. We are losing our grip without those people who actually make things happen. I’ve listed the ones to watch in this blog more than once, and as I continue to meet people willing to try, all we can do is support them.
ONE DAY as I scrolled along through life myself, I got pretty excited seeing Fool’s Gold Records show up on a flyer for a party with In4mation. This label is known for pushing the boundaries of everything; music, performance, events and even retail. In terms of independent labels, they have set the bar incredibly high with their brand.
Founded in 2007 by A-Trak (aka Alain Macklovitch) and Nick “Catchdubs” Barat, Fool’s Gold boasts a roster that spreads across (and blends) everything cool in indie, hip-hop, dance, twerk and trap. From the kings of cool Chromeo, Jokers of the Scene and Danny Brown, to festival dancefloor destroyers Laidback Luke, Flosstradaumus, Carnage, Duck Sauce, Tommy Trash and frequent Hawaii visitor Four Color Zack, this Brooklyn label’s tastemaker status was already next level before they even started. Everything they touch turns to gold.
Donnis first performed in Hawaii in 2011, right after being listed among the ranks of Big Sean, Juicy J and Wiz Khalifa as one of XXL magazine’s Top 10 Freshmen. The experience of performing here, even after living and working all over the world was eye-opening for him; I could relate, so we quickly became friends.
“At that point in my life I had done a lot of traveling, but I had never been somewhere like (Hawaii,)” said the artist born born Ladonnis Crump. “The energy was, and still is, intense as soon as you get to the island. I’m not sure if people realize how powerful this place is.”
Donnis signed with Fool’s Gold in 2012 after a few years with Atlantic Records and has since settled in quite nicely. He began hosting a touring house party with A-Trak and Flosstradaumus, spinning the norm into a completely new universe.
Now he plans to do that in Honolulu.
“I just want to bring good vibes and new vibes to the underground culture,” he said. “I grew up in Atlanta, Tokyo, and New York City. I like to believe I’ve been to some of the best parties in the world.
“Me and A-Trak have been all over throwing parties under Fool’s Gold. I think we have kind of mastered what it takes to make a successful event.”
This Saturday will be his first Hawaii attempt, but luckily he has a healthy lineup and the good fortune of immediately following the Kendrik Lamar concert at Blaisdell Arena. With Ong King as his venue, Donnis will definitely get the house party vibe he’s going for.
“Saturday’s party is going to be a lot like the house parties me and A-Trak have been throwing on the mainland, with Hawaii’s unique flavor added in by using the hottest DJs playing whatever ratchet music they want,” he said. “There are no rules. This event is for any and everyone who just wants to have FUN. We’re doing everything we can to make it a place where everyone feels comfortable being themselves. A true no-judgment zone.”
If this sounds like a new, exciting, welcome break from the norm, then don’t let the name freak you out. Embrace it!
Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young’s Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular “Bacardi Pool Party” on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.