Donae’O dropped his ‘Sixteen’ mixtape last Friday a project that is shaping up to be his most accomplished work yet. Named ‘Sixteen’ as a nod to his number of years in the business, Donae’O has been one of UK culture’s most celebrated and consistent hit makers. Back in 2002, Donae’O released ‘My Philosophy’ (Bounce), and subsequently flooded every school kid’s mobile phone as technology crept from the dark ages of Infrared to Bluetooth. A viral hit before viral was even a thing.
Donae’O has been on the rise ever since, Funky House voyager with 2008’s ‘Devil In A Blue Dress’ and ‘African Warrior’, Mr Fidgit beat maker and a hook writer so sharp with the melody; I’ve called him the UK’s answer to Nate Dogg on more than one occasion. Donae’O’s writing, collaboration and production credits read like a timeline of underground music in the UK. He’s handled tracks for Ms Dynamite, Mz Bratt and Yasmin, the theme tune for the final series of Channel 4’s Dubplate Drama, The Streets ‘Fit But You Know It Remix’, Shy FX ‘Raver’, Jack Beats ‘You Should Know’, Maverick Sabre’s ‘I Need Remix’ and Foreign Beggars ‘Flying To Mars Remix’.
That Donae’O’s magic lies in his deft and innate understanding of genre blending: Afrobeats percussion, at Dance music tempos, finessed with Bashment bass and Hip Hop melodies sprinkled with that New Jack Swing flavour – the elements all marry together effortlessly and over the years has come to define Donae’O’s artistry.
“I love what Future’s doing, trap music on a whole, Six Seven, Section Boyz,” Donae’O says “I think Mist might be my favourite right now. I’ve been really deep in rap and grime for the last three years and I’ve not really ventured outside of these genres for inspiration, saying that dance music is as much of my culture as R&B and rap, I want people to know that. I’m doing well in rap but I don’t want anyone to forget I can – and will – do other things…”
‘Sixteen’ is an exhibition of things learned along this journey in music, production techniques, styles, blends and features with some of the finest in the scene: “Last year was probably my career highlight. It was largely about other people and collaborating, so less about me but it helped me so much. There was Big Tobz ‘You Know My Style (Remix)’, ‘My Circle’ feat. Blitz & Big Tobz, Belly Squad ‘About That’… I also was involved in three Radio 1 playlisted tracks, co-producing WSTRN ‘Come Down’, the bridge on Wretch 32 ‘It Was A Dream’ and co-production and the hook for Giggs ‘Lock Doh’. Ultimately, whether it’s for me or others, I just want to make music for the rest of my life.”
Donae’O’s ‘Sixteen’ mixtape boasts guest appearances from Wretch 32, Shakka, Cadet, Louis Rei and many others, it’s a mixtape designed to explain what it feels like when a dream comes to fruition. A fitting celebration for his most recent milestone – a label venture (Moving Anti) with Island Records, ‘Sixteen’ is the place where it all falls together.
Download or Stream ‘Sixteen’ here: