*For a time there was a ten year span when So So Def Records and Jermaine Dupri were synonymous with hit records. The roster included Da Brat, Kriss Kross, Jagged Edge, Bow Wow, Youngbloodz, Xscape and Dupri himself. Each of the aforementioned artists released an album that sold at least a million copies.
For reasons too numerous to list here, things haven’t been going so so great over at So So Def lately. But it can’t hurt to have an aspiring young artist with a powerful voice to help turn things around.
Recently we ran into Dondria at the birthday party of silky smooth Sacramento King’s star two-guard Tyreke “The Lay up King” Evans in Manhattan and she told EURweb.com of the fantastic summer she had had, and of the meaning behind the amusing title for her debut CD.
“I am Dondria, So So Def recording artist doing R&B. I’m currently finishing up a tour with Trey Songz and Monica,” she said, virtually exploding with glee in the process. “I’ve been opening up for them since August. It is my first big tour. I’m very excited. I’ve learned so much. Trey in particular has been really a great role model and inspiration. He tells me to do this and don’t do that and he gives me pointers and constructive criticism. I’m learning a lot and having fun. I’m having fun and learning new things as a new artist. I have an album that came out August 17th called ‘Dondria vs. Phatfffat'”
When she mentioned the name of her album we had to take pause. Didn’t want to seem like we were gawking, but it’s hard to ignore a pretty young lady with a midriff blouse on sporting a six pack. Given that fact we crammed to understand how she could be even remotely associated with the term fat.
“Phatfffat is my nickname I received in college because I’m so small but I eat a lot,” she explained. “That was also my name on Youtube as I got discovered. I named my album that, number one to help people make the connection that Phatfffat is Dondria, and also to show that Dondria is more than Phatfffat, this girl that was online singing other people’s songs. I would be singing and eating pizza. Now I want to show people that I’m an artist.
The path for being discovered certainly has changed in the 21st century. The advent of social networking and sites where you can upload personal videos has allowed record execs to scan for talent without leaving their offices. Gone are the days of A&Rs cruising smoke-filled clubs searching for that next star. The world’s number one video sharing site is how Jermaine Dupri came across Dondria.
“He discovered me off of Youtube. I was on in ’07 doing different covers and everything. I started getting a lot of buzz. I reached a million views and I was up to 25,000 subscribers at the time, obviously it’s much more now. I guess the talent, the views and the subscriptions are what made him look at me and wonder,” said Dondria.
Allmusic writer David Jeffries gave the album 3½ out of 5 stars and called it a “pleasing throwback” to late-1990s R&B, stating:
“Dondria is vocally a dead ringer for Beyonce but her material recalls the late ’90s, ‘one-namers’ like Brandy, Monifah, and Monica.”
Check out the behind-the-scenes action at the photo shoot for Dondria: