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Flagpole Premieres: Donny Knottsville, “Cremation Amadeus”

Donny Knottsville. Credit: Erica Strout

With the release of his farewell album My Strangest Adventure this past January, local hip-hop wordsmith Donny Knottsville announced plans to retire from his nearly two-decade career as a musician. Some of us were skeptical—could he really stay away from something that seemed to come so naturally?—but we respectfully accepted his decision and thanked him for the good times. Gratefully, he’s popping out of retirement with a video premiere for the single “Cremation Amadeus” today.

“Like many Americans in this day and age, I find that retirement is simply not an option,” says Malcolm Walters. “I would love to hang it all up and go fishing every day, but as long as people want to keep hearing more from Donny Knottsville, I will just have to keep slogging it out for the time being.”

“Cremation Amadeus” will appear on Stranger Still, a compilation of remixes and B-sides scheduled to be digitally released on on Dec. 17. Walters considers the new release to be a supplemental extension of My Strangest Adventure, a time capsule that sought to bring back close collaborators from his past as well as performers he admired but had not previously worked with. Taking a similar theme, Stranger Still includes beats and remixes by Knottsville and Joel Hatstat (Cinemechanica), Cubenza (Deaf Judges) and Big Lo from Pensacola, FL. Guest verses and vocals are provided by Louie Larceny, Sawmill Slang, Tom Visions, Sienna Chandler (Monsoon) and Annie Leeth. Notably, “Cremation Amadeus” includes a big feature from New York rap legend Kool Keith.  

“Kool Keith is such a unique artist who has always inspired me creatively, and it was really an honor to get to work with him on the track ‘Cremation Amadeus’,” says Walters, who linked up with the artist over Instagram. “Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect, but he came through with a great verse and I was pretty blown away! I feel like the track—both the beat and lyrics—were a little Kool Keith inspired, so it made sense to get him on that one. It means a lot to do a track with someone who is legitimately regarded as a legend in hip-hop circles, and a personal rhyme hero in my book.”

The video for “Cremation Amadeus” was directed by fellow local musician Erica Strout. 

“I have been a huge fan of Erica’s musical output with Athens bands The Incendiaries and Motherfucker, and we had a great time shooting this,” says Walters. “It was done in one weekend, mostly off the cuff, just having a good time with it. I feel like that’s the best way to work, and Erica and me got on like gangbusters and shot this dang thing.”