The last time most of us saw Brooklyn’s DonMonique, she was doing what most 19-year-olds do: partying. The video for her breakthrough single “Pilates” depicted a carefree house party, with Don flipped the names of a few of Hollywood’s It-Girls for a clever drug reference. “Got Kendall, got Kylie, got Miley / I can make the work stretch like pilates,” she rapped over a tinkering beat. It’s been three years since she released her debut mixtape Thirst Trap, where she dragged her hefty flow over grimy production. Today she’s premiering the video for “Black Kate Moss,” the brazen title track from her second EP, which she released last November.
Directed by Kyle Rogers, the sultry video marks a departure from the childlike image she portrayed on “Pilates,” with Don indulging in champagne toasts and bubble baths while being fed grapes by mysterious men. It’s what the kids call “a vibe.” Her voice is husky, channeling the “New Kim, Old Nicki” moniker she gives herself elsewhere on the EP. “Thinking that's it's time that I let 'em know / Competition falling off, I'm cutting through the smoke,” she raps in the growl of her New York predecessors. This is a different woman.
In an interview with Noisey, Don said the alias “Black Kate Moss” is a reflection of her desire to challenge the hip-hop status quo—much like the supermodel did in fashion. The new EP, she said, is an attempt to work through some difficult experiences she had during her three years out of the spotlight.
“I never really talked about this before. Should I go into detail?” she asks hesitantly on a Friday evening in the Noisey offices. Since releasing her debut, she’s endured quite a few hardships, including parting ways with her former management team and the loss of the twins she couldn’t carry to term because of an ectopic pregnancy. Now, with “Black Kate Moss” the Brooklyn rapper is ready to make up for lost time.
Noisey: What was the inspiration behind the EP?
DonMonique: Black Kate Moss is about me growing up and getting some shit off my chest. I had a lot to get off my chest, and I’m just trying to let people know what’s going on with me and my music. When I did Thirst Trap, I was only rapping for like eight months. Now I’ve been rapping for four years, so you can really hear the difference in my voice, my cadence, everything.
What have you been up to since 2015?
Since Thirst Trap, I did a tour with Santigold and another with Lil Debbie. Alexander Wang used my song for Fashion Week. Kylie [Jenner] put “Pilates” on her Snapchat like three or four times. I took a step back to focus on my personal life. When everything popped off, I was 19, and “Pilates” was my second song. It was kind of like, “Wait, what the hell?”
The EP was supposed to come out in February of 2017. I broke up with all of my management. It was done already, and I scrapped the project like three times. It felt like I waited too long, and I didn’t like the songs anymore. I wanted to do party music, then I was like, “That’s not it.” I wanted to do the Chicago shit. I wanted to do the singing shit. It was a lot of experimenting.
Black Kate Moss was done, and I was sick but didn’t know it.
You were sick?
I found out I was pregnant. It was an ectopic pregnancy. That really took a toll on me.
I found out I was carrying twins. I was like this close to dying. I was two months, and as the baby grows, the [Fallopian] tube will burst and you’ll bleed to death. The first time I went to the doctor, they said it was just a miscarriage. They sent me home but ran tests, and three days later, they called me at seven in the morning like, “Nah, you gotta come to the hospital right now.”
I tell my boyfriend all the time: If I’m ever able to carry a baby again, I’m scared as hell. I took a pregnancy test and they sent me home. It makes me want to go harder. That’s what Black Kate Moss means.
Why Black Kate Moss instead of referencing black supermodels like Naomi Campbell or Tyra Banks?
It’s just me putting on for the girls who look like me. I didn’t put anything about the pregnancy in the music yet, because it’s still fresh. I’m throwing shots at people I fell out with. I always felt like I could relate to Kate Moss so much. She wasn’t like the other models. She was short. She was in the back of the club with her cigarette. I’m on my Kate Moss shit with my cigarette and my blunt.
I’m really different from the girls who are out now. Everyone’s so sexy with the fat ass. Naomi was more girly. I’m not that—or at least not yet. I’m on my Kate Moss shit.
What happened to your former management?
I haven’t spoken to them since that whole situation.
Did they eventually find out what you were going through?
No. They still don’t know to this day. I guess they’ll find out when they read this.
Kristin Corry is a staff writer for Noisey. Follow her on Twitter.