Three laps around the sun-that is how long it has taken Donny Goines to amass his words and music for his debut album, Minute After Midnight. Unlike other debuts, this album does not serve as an introduction but rather it cements the fact that this Harlemite can create a worthy album that embodies hip hop in its truest form. That said this album is not a classic by any means, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.
The genius for lack of better words of this thirteen-track LP lies in the fact that, all you hearing is [him] not a rapper who lies; while a strong majority of rappers play their parts in fantasia, Goines instead spits reality raps. Even when he spits imaginary tales a la Ricky’s Story, he still reinforces that same very reality. The whole attitude of the album is summed up in its title which Goines parallels to that of the fairy tale, Cinderella, “...the story has a parallel to rap…they had [a] ball which parallels the clubs, the gowns is like the jewelry, the clothing; but what happens after midnight? All that fantasy just disappears, and that's what I'm trying to represent in this album, no fantasy-none!” Goines intent, clearly laid in the groundwork and evidently coming into fruition with Minute After Midnight, was not to involve the usual ish. To this degree one must applaud Goines’s effort for not conforming to any system or style on the road to riches and diamond rings; clearly real n***as [still] do real things.
Executively produced by Dame Grease, it also includes production from Statik Selektah, DJ Static and K Salaam. The fact that Midnight After Midnight utilizes the same producer on more than one track allows the album to be more cohesive. Similarly, because this album does not feature any other rappers, it allows Goines to shine to the best of his ability. The majority of this album contains discerning storytelling embedded within inspirational and reflective lyrics more than anything. Ghetto USA as the title would imply is an insightful track in which Goines vividly describes the ghettos that plague Amerikkka. Dame Grease’s, I am Moving, finds Goines applying celestial metaphors to recreate cruise music. MLK describes his plight to his imminent success, while emulating Martin Luther King’s notion of a dream. Can U Hear Me finds Goines calling unto God over what sounds like music suitable for the Scarface soundtrack with its sturdy use of synthesizers. The aforementioned Ricky’s Story is one of the stellar tracks among many on this album. This track is the art of storytelling at its finest, with a very powerful moral that becomes practical in this rap climate presently crammed with delusions. As The World Turns is what I would describe as his Nas hiccup; the album could have fared better without its inclusion. A tribute to the early loss of his son comes with Heaven Is With You, a very personal track that also reinforces Goines uncanny knack for storytelling, as it questions “what if”?
Even if Minute After Midnight offers nothing novel as Goines sticks to an unwritten script, it is still a solid release. Excluding the Nas miscue, the content of this album reinforces Goines’s status as an E-M-C-E-E who spits with an unequivocal, passionate conviction.
TURN OFF THE RADIO!