Costilla native Gerald Henderson, whose performing name is Don P, is an up-and-coming rap artist in the music scene, with a several awards under his belt for his work over the past two decades, including Hip Hop MVP, Best Hip Hop Album, and soon he will have the title of Akademia Hall of Fame inductee added to his list.
“Growing up, I listened to music like Metallica and Black Sabbath, because that’s what my mom and dad liked. It had a big influence on me, and I decided to join a band in middle school and played drums,” Don P says of his early interest in music. Fast forward to his high school years, Don P says his cousin and friends all took an interest in rap music, therefore they started to create rap songs as a group.
“We were called Kuntry Made Entertainment and my cousin Donovan Vigil, who went by D-Boi, along with other friends, made music together. Learning percussion early on made the beat easy to work with, but the lyrics are what drew me to create,” he says.
Graduating from Questa High School in 2006, Don P went on to attend the University of New Mexico for a couple of years, majoring in graphic design, where he mostly studied art. Ultimately, he decided to pursue a career in carpentry, and has worked with 5 Star Remodeling for 17 years, using his creativity to make beautiful, custom cabinets for homes and businesses in the Taos area.
While his job allows him to use his natural-born talent to make a living, he says it’s given him the ability to create a life he loves, creating original rap albums using his creative genius to relate to listeners across New Mexico and Colorado.
Don P is currently a solo musician and has performed at venues throughout central New Mexico, including Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Espanola, Taos, and in Questa; in Colorado he has performed in Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. In October of 2017, he was recognized for reaching #1 on the music charts for KMIX Radio in Los Angeles. He anticipates expanding his music into Texas and California in the coming years.
Much of his drive and passion to succeed is rooted in showing his kids and other local youth that they can do what they want to do in life. “I have the drive and determination to do what it takes to be successful. I have worked my job to ensure that I can support my music — you do what it takes to be successful, and I think in a lot of ways, I am a positive role model to younger generations. I want to show my kids and other kids that they have the power to do whatever they want in life and be happy doing it.”
While his kids have been his major motivation, watching people enjoy his music makes the struggle worth it. “Watching people enjoy my music, it’s the ultimate reward for all the hard work put into my music. It’s worth writing the lyrics, the sleepless nights when I have visions and can’t sleep because I am envisioning what I want the music to be — kinda like painters who envision a painting before they paint it, that’s what creating music is like to me.”
The awards ceremony will be held in May of 2024 in Los Angeles, California. To listen to Don P’s music, you can visit ReverbNation.com/donp575.