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For a parent, the term “starving artist” means that their offspring are just too lazy to go out and get a “quote-un-quote” real job. But to the tons of people in that particular situation, the average 9-5 just doesn’t suit them, so they would rather go through the struggles of something that they truly believe in (hence the expression “starving artist”).
On any given day in New York City, you’re probably likely to run into an abundance of these individuals. Some are in the train stations with their guitars singing away, some are actually in the train cars performing, and some are on city streets.
Even though it may be hard to make ends-meat at times, these performers usually stop at nothing to make their dreams a reality, and that’s the same mentality Manhattan’s own Donny Goines is accustomed to.
From dealing with a father that was incarcerated, to watching his mother’s drug addiction first hand, Donny never used any of those situations as a crutch. Instead he used them as life lessons, to make himself and his love of Hip-Hop even stronger.
His only draw back is that he is one of those same talented people spoken upon earlier. In this day and age where marketing dollars might as well determine your worth, Donny Goines sets out to break the mold by aligning himself with the likes of Harlem producer Dame Your browser does not support inline frames or is currently configured not to display inline frames. Grease and Aftermath’s Bishop Lamont, and giving lovers of his music an opportunity to download it for free.
As long as people are devoted to a certain type of culture or art form, the starving artist will always be synonymous with it. But a person such as Donny Goines is definitely one of the few that deserves a good meal.
How was it like for you growing up as a kid? Were there a lot of bumps in the road?
Well to make a long story short, I was born in Manhattan, and I was here for a little while. Then my father got incarcerated on a 10-year-bid. So when that happened, me my brothers, and my mother moved to Philly. But she had a lot of drug issues, so we were like all over the place. And then from there, it got to the point to where she had to give us up. So then we went to my grandmother’s for a couple of years. And from there, it just got worse and worse. [Laughing] Sh*t just got crazy! [Smiles] But it turned out okay, because those were all lessons in life.
I hear you. So when did you first get into music?
Um. Professionally? Or just in general?
Just like the actual interest in music, or Hip-Hop per say.
As far as the actual interest, that came about like when I was 17-years-old back in 97’ or something like that. I would see a lot of people in my neighborhood, and they used to freestyle and just have fun with it. And at the time, it just seemed very alluring to me, like people would just gather around and listen to what they had to say. So that’s what initially attracted me to the whole “rap” and “music thing.” After that, I had went upstairs and wrote my first rhyme that day. But I never really took it seriously as far as a career, not until recently. Like around 2006.
What made you really go hard at it?
Um. Jay-Z actually. [Laughing] I had seen the movie Fade To Black one day and it was just like— you know when you see things, and like something just wakes up in you? I saw the movie Fade To Black, and honestly after I saw it, it was like an epiphany. It was just one of those things like, “If this man can do it, why can’t I do it?” I just felt that way, and from that point on, I just really took it completely serious. I was like, “You know what?” “I’m going to do it.” And that’s what it was.
I also heard you were in the Navy. How was the experience for you?
It was HORRIBLE! [Laughing] Actually it was like a double-edged sword because the things that I did like about it, it actually made a man out of me. Like the discipline, and the life lessons I learned. It taught me how to maneuver as an adult in society, or whatever. But one of the things I didn’t like was the conformity. That’s all [they] practiced was conformity, and not individuality. So that was really hard for me to adjust to. And just a lot of politics and nonsense I didn’t agree with, so it really wasn’t a good fit for me. I was in there for a couple of years, and did what I had to do or whatever, and I made moves. That’s basically it.
I almost went into the Marines after I graduated from high school, but then I thought about it, and I was like, “HELL NO!”
[Laughing] Smart move, smart move! I feel you; trust me. But like you just said, when you’re coming up, you don’t really have direction. So it’s like, “Damn, what should I do?” With me, it was the opposite. I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t have the means to do it. I was just really running the streets, and I was going crazy doing all sorts of sh*t. I had got into a really bad car accident; I wrecked my pop’s car. So I decided to straighten my sh*t out, and join the military. [Laughs]
[Laughs] That will usually do it for you! You also had a chance to work with the legendary Disco D. How was that like?
I leaned a lot of things. I can go on and on. But the most important lessons I learned is that you should put your heart into the music, and also just to focus. Sometimes when you’re in situation, it’s good to just to listen and watch. At first it was a business relationship, like I was a personal assistant, and a lot of people don’t know that. I took care of like hiring the interns, taking care of the studio, and etc. But as that went on, we became very good friends, and I practically lived at his house. It was just one of those things where he was a good person, man. And I tend to gravitate towards good people. So that’s what that was like.
What’s the hardest part for you being an unsigned artist?
Right now currently, I feel like it’s a lack of resources. A lot of people don’t know that I don’t really have money. So I don’t really have the freedom to run around and experiment with my music. When I go to the studio, I go for a certain amount of time, and X-amount of songs have to be done, do you understand what I mean? I can’t really promote my records, thank God for people like yourself and for all the blogs to show me love because I can’t pay anybody for radio play, know what I’m saying?
It’s very hard when you don’t have the resources to actually do what it is you want to do. There’s so much music I want to release, and so much I want to say, but being that I have limited resources, I’m not actually able to do that. So that’s very hard for an independent artist. That’s definitely my biggest problem right now.
Did you ever think you’d get a chance to be heard on a broader level?
Um, yes and no. Yes because I’m very determined, and when I make my mind up, I can get it done regardless. So with that kind of mid set, I never really thought like, “Oh people aren’t going to hear me.” It’s just a matter of how, when, where, etc. So as far as the yes part of the answer, I feel like being that I’m from New York, I’m really into my music, and I’m very street-orientated, and I’m very aggressive. And like I said before, certain people like yourself allow me to be heard, so with that being said, as long as there is people out there like yourself, and people that support people like me, I will always be heard.
Speaking of being heard, you also allow people to download your music for free. What made you do that as opposed to making money off downloads?
Because money isn’t my main motivation, you understand? Like that’s not my main focus. If I happen to get rich in the process, then it’s a blessing. But that’s really not my whole thing. Right now I do have a project that’s going to be sold. And the reason being is that I don’t have any money, so if people don’t support me, I won’t be able to record, it’s that simple. [Laughs] But normally, I give out my music, because I feel like people just need to hear it.
A lot of people know me now, and they understand what I’m trying to do and everything, but I don’t have any platinum records. I’m not no big artist to be like, “I’m dropping an album, spend money with me.” [Laughing] Nobody is going to spend money with me; they don’t know me! [Laughs] Everything right now is like “going back to the block.” If you’re on the block, and you want to get some work off, you gotta give samples out. [Laughs] So it’s that mentality, especially in this game. Sometime you gotta take a loss in order to get a larger gain, you know what I’m saying? So that’s where my logic comes with that.
How would you define your music?
The way I define my music is basically how I feel, and that’s just very real to me. But you can’t really box me in, because there is so many different routes that I can take, and I’m going to take it. It’s just going to take some time for me to acquire all the resources I need to put it out to the public. I’m definitely not just a “Hip-Hop artist,” I’m definitely not just an “underground artist,” I’m not a “pop artist,” I’m not anything. I’m just “ a artist.” And I’m trying to make good music, that’s it.
MTS Centre, Winnipeg - May 26, 2008
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