Man, I will never tire of a leaned-out, emo, gargle-flow – you know where the beat is cloudy and sinister and the MC sounds like he’s rapping/singing while chewing on something? Actually I probably will tire of it because I’m fickle AF, but for now it’s about the only thing I’ll allow to grace my ears. And Virginia Beach’s Don Von represents this of the moment sound at its essence – a delightful mix between Young Thug and A$AP Rocky and Yung Lean. I recently hit up the 22-year old rapper – née T’Von McLean – to ask him what’s good. Read our conversation below.
Labeling Men: What's your average day like?
Don Von: My average day, when I'm not at work, consists of smoking a lot of weed, listening to beats, and plotting on how to become rich by 30.
Labeling Men: Virginia Beach is the birthplace of a number of important hip-hop acts - Clipse, Missy Elliott, Pharrell, Timbaland (to name a few) - do any of these acts inspire you?
Don Von: Yeah...Pharrell, Clipse, Timbaland, who wouldn't be inspired by a line up like that? I used to write mad verses to the "Grinding" instrumental just to keep in the cut. I respect all of those guys for never forgetting where they came from and always showing love back home. I recorded some music at one of Timbaland's local studios not too long ago.
Labeling Men: You told Pigeons & Planes: “There’s a lot of hidden talent in VA, we just trying to get people to lend us an ear.” Besides you, who are the other up-and-comers?
Don Von: I'm sure you guys have probably heard of DP, who's featured on my "For a While" record and D.R.A.M. who's currently on the family matters tour with Chance the Rapper. Besides them, I like to listen to Virginia rapper Mike Strong. He's dope.
Labeling Men: You also told Pigeons & Planes of your song "These Drugs": “I basically wrote the song for people like me, recreationally getting fucked up, enjoying life, careless of what people think." What's your drug(s) of choice?
Don Von: My drug of choice would have to be weed, definitely. I'm cool on all that other shit. Been there, did that. I'll still get fucked up occasionally but I'm not out here searching anything to alter my brain like most of these niggas.
Labeling Men: When did you start making music?
Don Von: I started writing and recording music back in middle school, I'd say around 13. Me and the homies would just post music on MySpace, which eventually led to diss records, which eventually led to fights. Been rapping ever since.
Labeling Men: Dream collaboration?
Don Von: I don't really have any dream collabs. I'd rather be the one other artists dream of working with.
Labeling Men: Who is your dream girl?
Don Von: My dream girl...Shit, I have too many. A three some with Alicia Keys and Tahiry would be dope tho, lol.
Labeling Men: What inspires you the most?
Don Von: Anybody on the come up inspires me. Seeing dudes my age, doing what I love to do, getting recognized on a national level is pure inspiration and motivation. Especially when it's somebody from your city, got me like damn...let's get it.
Labeling Men: What are you working on right now?
Don Von: Right now I'm working on my debut project Don't Forget the Don. Featuring "Touch Down" and "For a While" look out for that early next year. "For a While" video coming very soon. Also me and my boy Denham, who's an artist from Southern Cali have a little EP coming in a few weeks. Titled "VA/CA" The first single "Humma" produced by Elliott Beats is out now.
Labeling Men: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Don Von: I wish I could tell you where I see myself 5 years from now. Shit I just hope I see tomorrow...
Listen to more of Don Von here and follow him on Twitter + Instagram @1donvon
By Anna Dorn
Photograph provided by Don Von