Twenty-one-year-old Peter “Doneze” Robinson is a hit-making Nigerian-born rap artist who performs in the United States and has been listened to millions of times online.
But Robinson plans to finish his university degree at Mount Royal University in order to attend medical school and become a cardiologist.
Robinson was born in Delta State, Nigeria. His mother, originally from Lagos, is a Yoruba and his father, born in Delta, is an Igbo. Because of his mixed heritage and his father being unable to teach him the traditional dialect, he was taught English instead.
His life in Nigeria consisted of him seeing inequality and dangers early on. When a local governor claimed doctors were embezzling money, criminals ended up targeting his father, who works as a member of that profession.
“They tried kidnapping my parents once and tried killing them a second time,” says Robinson.
At the age of 13, Robinson’s family moved to Halifax, N.S. to find safety and further develop his academic skills.
He fondly remembers the people he met when he arrived as “the stereotypical Canadian nice.” Soon after, with the help of other family members in Halifax, he quickly adjusted to his new life and excelled academically.
Initially, he was put in Grade 6. But, three weeks later, the school pushed him forward three grades. That’s when he realized his academic potential.
“I was just killing it. And the only reason they didn’t put me back in Grade 10 was because they were like ‘It’s going to mess with your social life,’” says Robinson.
In 2013, Robinson moved to Calgary. He started rapping after graduating high school in 2018. It was at this time that he wrote and produced his first song called Dab Fashion.
Robinson never considered himself interested in rap.
“I was just the book-smart kid up until two or three years ago,” he says. “I never really practiced rapping or anything.”
However, the American rapper Migos became a major creative inspiration for Robinson’s work and sparked his interest in rapping.
“Just trust that you’re going to make it. No matter what it is, you’re never going to be homeless if you put your mind to it.”
— Doneze Robinson
Using Migos’s flow as a model, Robison recorded his own song. And the moment he published it, it “took off.”
After posting his music on the website WorldStarHipHop, Robinson garnered over three million views.
One of his most popular songs How has over 100,000 streams and is popular locally across the state of Georgia.
“It was something like a hobby and the more feedback I got, the more I loved it.”
With the support of his friends and family, Robinson’s interest in rap grew. In addition to getting engagement and feedback from his followers on social media, he attracted the attention of popular American artists including Lil Yachty, 21 Savage and his inspiration Migos.
Robinson applies his book smarts to his rap style to stand out.
“You have to say things that have a deeper meaning to it,” says Robinson.
He believes this is reflected in his newest song Caviar. Although the song mentions popular aspects of hip-hop culture such as gangs, drugs and crime, he is also trying to inspire others through his verses.
“Just trust that you’re gonna make it. No matter what it is, you’re never going to be homeless if you put your mind to something.”
Making rhymes that flow well and never ramble is a standard Robinson maintains in all of his songs.
“If you don’t know how to articulate words, you’re basically just a mainstream rapper.”
Robinson’s first performance was an opening act for American rap artist Rich Homie Quan at the Marquee in early March of 2019.
His friend, Calgary-based rapper YXNG BLVCK, was also opening for Quan. Since the two of them were working on a song together, YXNG BLVCK contacted Robinson about the opportunity.
“I was at school at the time,” says Robinson. “They called me and said I was gonna perform a song with him and I was like, ‘Okay.’”
Shortly after his performance, he caught the attention of the Atlanta and Arizona- based music label Days of Noah and Jordanikus Music Group.
By the end of March 2019, Robinson was flown down to Atlanta by the company to have him sign on as one of their artists.
“I came back, and I was joking with my friends about how I have a show in Atlanta,” says Robinson. “And then two weeks later my manager called me and was like, ‘You got a show in Atlanta.’”
This was the third professional performance of his music career and his biggest yet, performing at the Masquerade Theater in Atlanta, Ga., to a crowd of over 350 attendees.
Robinson continues to grow in popularity, touring in the U.S. and garnering over 250,000 streams on Spotify.
Even though Robinson acknowledges he could make a living off his music career, he still attends university and is currently in his third year studying physical literacy.
The primary reason he continues to pursue an education stems from his parents’ desire for him to get a degree.
“I know this is the real world and if it doesn’t pay the bills or get me as much money as I want, then I will use my degree.”
After finishing his degree, Robinson plans to attend medical school and become a doctor like his father. His goal is to become a cardiologist due to his interest in learning more about the human heart.
Robinson maintains that he will continue to devote time to both his academic and musical endeavors.
“Regardless of whatever it is, I still manage to get in the studio, and I do my homework. I’m organized that way.”
Over the summer, Robinson is going to head down to a recording studio in Arizona where he hopes to record new music and arrange a concert with the help of his producer.
Robinson is also planning to release a five-track EP this year called Flight Mode while he continues to attend Mount Royal University. When he graduates in two years, Robinson would like to hone his musical career for a year before deciding his next move.
“I know they’re not telling me to get it for them. They’re telling me to get it for me,” says Robinson. “I have faith that my music career will take off,” he says. “But I’m not going to rely on that. So, I want to have a plan B. Wherever school leads me to, I’ll keep going with it.”
Album art for Doneze’s 2020 single NO CAP.