KUTX’s Black History Month is supported by Austin Public Health, committing to health equity.
MC Overlord was born Donnell “Don” Robinson in St. Louis, Missouri. During his childhood, he was an avid listener of Marvin Gaye, James Brown, and The Sugarhill Gang. In high school, he explored his lyrical talents by entertaining crowds during his lunch breaks and entering talent shows. He moved to Austin in 1987 to attend college and quickly realized that hip-hop was his calling.
Things started taking off for Overlord when he connected with a local band The Bizness. At the time, he had a full-on Heavy D. tribute set, complete with two dancers and a DJ. That very setup won him a talent show in 1989 that was put on by the Texas Rap Network, and that led to an opening slot for KRS-One’s Boogie Down Productions show. After that opportunity, his fanbase began to quickly grow.
Tragedy hit the rapper in 1993 when he lost his dear friend Corey Ziegler to leukemia. His friend’s death inspired him to write the song “October” which was set to an acoustic backing track. After, the positive reception of “October” he was encouraged to create a full acoustic hip-hop album which would lead to future collaborations with live bands and funk-oriented groups that featured A-list musicians such as Brannen Temple, James Speer, and Stephen Greer.
By 1994, Overlord was playing with dozens of musicians and live bands on Sixth Street in Austin. The following year, Overlord’s label, Lordship Entertainment dropped the record A Better Funk and in 1997 he dropped Darkside. His albums were a mixture of R&B, hip-hop, and funk, with his last album, You Ain’t Know being released in 2017 —a year before his untimely death in 2018.
Until this day, MC Overlord, who also made children’s music as Big Don, ranks as the all-time leader in the Best Hip-Hop category of the Austin Music Awards, with nine wins. During his 30-year career, MC Overlord took hip-hop to parts of Austin it had never been all while gaining a fanbase comprised of people from all different walks of life. With his positive and inspirational lyrics and ability to push past the limits placed on rappers MC Overlord opened doors for the next generation of musicians and laid the foundation for future hip-hop artists to thrive here in Austin.