T.I.'s Akoo look on the left, and Donnis's Akoo look on right. Donnis got the girl?
Photo: Courtesy of Akoo
T.I.'s fashion label Akoo is gearing up to launch a new collection this fall, and with that, just released brand new billboards around the country. So, of course, we scouted them out. Sadly, we found out that T.I. isn't in most of them! But when he's not there, he's decided to put another rapper in his place. He passed the Akoo torch to up-and-coming MC, Donnis. Um, where did Mr. Donnis come from and how could he have possibly scored that gig? Well, we caught up with the 26-year-old rapper from Jonesboro, Georgia (near Atlanta, like T.I., how fitting!) to find out. See what he has to say about becoming the face of Akoo and why he likes T.I.'s style below. We'll give you a hint … "You don't have to wear XXXL T-shirts to be a rapper," Donnis told us. Amen.
How did you get involved with T.I.'s clothing line?
"When he first visited New York after he paid his debt to society, he came into a studio visit of mine. Then he vanished. After I finished my session, he was sitting outside and said he had the shoot coming up [for Akoo] and asked me if I wanted to be involved. It was a right-place-at-the-right-time situation."
What do you like about T.I.'s style?
"He made it cool to be fashionable and have lyrics. You don't have to wear XXXL T-shirts to be a rapper. You can still be fashionable and make good music and keep your street cred intact. Basically, you don't have to wear baggy jean and extra huge T-shirts to be cool."
What was it like working with T.I. for Akoo?
"For me it's a dream come true. I am excited to be involved in anything he's got going on because he paved the way for me. I knew one day I would stand beside him. He would be the king and I would be the prince. But to be a part of his clothing line and to be the face of it, that's amazing to me."
What is your personal style?
"I'm a big fashion head. I lived in Tokyo for two and a half years [he was a photographer in the Air Force], so I like to think of myself as fashion forward. I like to dress comfortably first and foremost. I like to be ahead of what's coming and what other people are wearing."
Did you ever think you were going to be on a billboard?
"No that wasn't in my future — I didn't think that would happen. This is definitely something that shocked me."
What is your relationship like with T.I. now?
"That's my big brother, I send him a text and he texts me right back. It's crazy for me. I can hit him up for advice about anything and he'll hit me right back. With a lot of people have relationships with their idols or artists, they're not going to get that."
Are you going to be the face of Akoo for now and the future?
"If my big brother calling me, I'm there. Whenever I call him, he's there. So whenever he needs me, I'm down."