Hip hop artist Donnie Dumphy is innocent enough to tell me that my interest in his story, and praise of his work, is ‘deadly’ which, according to the online Urban Dictionary, is ‘a word used by the Irish to describe something beyond great’. Not that everyone will find Dumphy entertaining – his mix of music and comedy can cater to a young, hard drinking crowd - but I believe he and his posse of friends are creative geniuses. Think of Donnie and his buddies as this decade’s answer to the 80’s McKenzie Brothers, 90’s Wayne’s World, and the 00’s Trailer Park Boys.
Originally from the Torbay/Flat Rock region, Donnie today hangs his hat in St. John’s where I caught up with him when, in search of an Internet superstar, I googled the words, ‘viral Newfoundland video’. I wanted to know if there were any clips, of a Newfoundland nature, that were travelling around this planet at a ridiculously wicked rate.
I went looking because of my own obsession with how, on a much smaller scale, I like knowing how many hits my columns get, when they’re deemed worthy of online airtime. Like when I write about Grey River – an isolated community of barely 100 people – and my story gets more than 2,000 hits, I’m thrilled. It pleases me to ponder who might be reading.
Thus it intrigued me to consider how Donnie Dumphy’s music video, ‘Havin’ a time’, has more than a million hits, despite being loaded with Newfoundland slang and, at first appearance, catering to a province with not only, only 500,000 residents, but an extremely small base of young people. So I had to ask Donnie how his art was conceived, and to comment on his unlikely fame.
To which he told me, “My buddy Nik (Sexton) was making some skateboard videos. And I had a wig on, drinking. The hats, sneakers, and tight pants… we were just guys in costumes, going around town, pretending to look normal. I’d put the videos on at parties and people would howl.”
Then the boys put their creation on the Internet and it caught fire. Dumphy says a buddy skiing in British Columbia heard some teenagers, riding a chairlift, singing the chorus for ‘Havin’ a time’. Another time, a television camera caught a kid with a sign honoring one of Donnie’s songs, at a Leaf game at the Air Canada Centre.
“But we didn’t really know we’d be so big (when the videos were made). I mean, we thought it was really good stuff. But we was just a bunch of guys having a few wobbly-pops – some Blue Star and India – and doing wheelies on a Honda 50. We were just hoping to have a few laughs.
“And yeah, (the fame) has been nice sometimes. We’ve got a big tour across the Maritimes taking us as far as your place (Guelph, Ontario) in April. And you can feel it, man… that what we’ve (previously) done could be nothing compared to when our new movie comes out. But really, we’re just six skeets – real, real, good friends, doing our little act.
“‘Keep your friends close’ they say… ‘Do good by your best buddies.’ So that’s what we’re doing. When a bunch of old friends can get on an airplane and fly to Fort McMurray to do 15 songs from their little CD… in the end, it’s all about friendship.”