“They will never tell us we can’t.”
Hidden University recently got the opportunity to catch up with 19-year old, Donte Maurice Laughlin, otherwise known as Donteze, another starving artist from Kean University repping Piscataway, New Jersey. Donteze, who originally got his name from his older cousin “Dada”, expressed that he has been busting rhymes since the fifth grade. He wrote his first rhyme (which he claims was horrible) attempting to follow behind his big brother. He was so proud of his work that he couldn’t wait to run back and show his big brother just to receive some of his satisfaction. But by Donteze’s senior year in high school, his big brother, who now goes by the name “Bill Jones”, started taking his music more seriously and began paying for studio time. However, being a broke high school student with no job at the time, Donteze watched in awe just wishing he could do the same. So eventually he made it his mission to start from the ground up by copping his first piece of studio equipment, a USB microphone called the Blue Yeti, one of the richest sounding, sonically flexible microphones money can buy. His next move was to begin recording his own tracks on a program called Adobe Audition. With the combination of these investments, he had just the right tools to make magic happen. From then on, Donteze and his brother have been building and investing in themselves to get to a higher plateau. Although he and his brother collaborate a lot, at the same time they still try to establish themselves as two different artists however, their supporters can still appreciate when they vibe together on a track.
Donteze describes his music as a soundtrack of the struggles of his fans and listeners. He believes that his music is the voice of struggle, ambition, drive, and love.
“I just take the inspiration I see from people in the world who can drive and make it another day and I somehow transform that into sound so that hopefully I can be a part of their ambition. I’m always so thankful for everyone who listens to my music because there’s no other love like finding yourself in a song, even if you can’t relate to one word. You just know that some part of you belongs to that vibe and that’s beautiful when people can understand and feel that.”
Donteze also describes his music as “Soul Food”, or nourishment for the mind, body and soul. He believes that everybody can find their place in the music once they just take a chance to listen.
Nevertheless, as far as musical influences are concerned, Donteze is influenced by a wide spread variety of musicians ranging from Ghostface Killah, Wale, Gangstarr, and Big Sean to Guru, The Weeknd and even the unique sounds of the Gorillaz who make eerie music that’s so good that you just can’t understand why you even like it. However, Donteze feels that there is a great deal to learn from artists like the Gorillaz and the Weeknd because of their hypnotizing sounds.
“With me being an artist who also mixes and masters his own tracks, I love to study artists with an unethical sound that society accepts. Those are the artists that keep hope alive for individuality.”
Donteze has had the honor of working with a hand full of different musicians and producers originating from DJ Coutz from West Virginia, who produced his very first mixtape, and also a few beats that were produced by Sango early on in his rap career. As of recently though, Donteze has been working with other producers like Phivebeats from California, Soulkatz straight from out the DMV, and El Train from Britain. But when it comes to artist collaborations, Donteze has also teamed up with Joey Cracc, Don Dada, Germ, B Ril and Jay Mike, all whom are affiliates from the Garden State Reps.
Besides performing for his colleagues at Kean University, Donteze has been blessed to grace a number of different stages at large venues like SOBs, Toshi’s Lounge, and the Penthouse in NYC. He was also seen at a few Jersey spots like The Brownstone in Newark and the Crossroads in Garwood.
But getting back to his music, Donteze has just released his 5th mixtape which dropped on February 4th entitled “The Don Flee Project” which he believes is his by far one of his greatest creations & is also his most prized possession. However, some of his other mixtapes include “50 Cent Sodas”, “The Opposite”, “TWxD”, and “Martin Little”, which happens to be a subtle tribute to the most honorable Dr. Martin Luther King. The highly anticipated Don Flee Project is expected heat up with a big performance by Donteze opening up for Tsu Surf at Madison Suites in Somerset, NJ on Feb. 23rd and he plans to bring that same energy back on the 25th of February to XL Lounge in Newark for the Wave showcase. So check him out & definitely stay tuned!
Listen/Download the “Don Flee Project” mixtape HERE