Dom Kennedy seems to be the type of artist people either love or hate. Either you can get into it and accept the music for what it is or you’re expecting more out of it than what was intended. That may not seem like a fair evaluation of everyone’s feelings, but when it comes to Dom, it really seems to come down to appreciating the simplicity or wanting more than what’s being offered.
People’s refusal to accept Dom’s music reminds me of hip-hop’s refusal to accept gangsta rap from the west coast. Dom came along at a time when the west coast wasn’t considered a major factor in hip-hop and truth be told, it still really isn’t. After The Game seemed to fade off into name-dropping dementia and becoming impossible to like, Dom and Nipsey Hussle came along to bring some of the flavor back, hitting the mixtape scene, which was the new frontier for hip-hop.
Dom isn’t a battle rapper, nor does he produce mind-blowing freestyles, but that isn’t what he’s here for. Dom’s here to sell a certain lifestyle or feeling which you may not understand if you’re only listening to hip-hop as a lyrical analyst or if you could never get into west coast rap. There was a time when people didn’t accept NWA, but they’re now looked at as one of the most important rap groups in hip-hop history. Dom represents a slightly less hectic vision of Los Angeles, more of the “Today Was A Good Day” Ice Cube than the “Steady Mobbin'” version. Though it’s a reach to compare Dom to Cube exactly, you have to consider the regional appeal blended with the songwriting ability that takes his music beyond southern California. Dom’s flow reminds me of Slick Rick in some ways; the sing-song melody he applies to some tracks and the ease and clarity of the delivery.
That being said, The Yellow Album is probably the project that’s most likely to make the critics believe…that is, if they’re willing to eat some humble pie. I can honestly say that the things I complained about on the last project have been remedied on this one. There’s a great balance of mellow and edgy and all of the features fit perfectly, with guests like Rick Ross and Kendrick Lamar prospering but never overshadowing Dom on his own mixtape.
You can’t walk into a tapas restaurant expecting comfort food. You can’t walk into a Foot Locker and expect to find dress shoes. Expecting mindblowing lyricism from an MC like Dom Kennedy is just foolish, but every MC isn’t here to supply you with the same things. That would be boring. What you will find is an expert ability to write very complete songs that have mass appeal while managing to still come off as authentic and not reaching for mainstream acceptance. Dom’s music for the most part is fun…and isn’t fun where hip-hop started?
Menace Beach x Dom Kennedy
Grind’n x Dom Kennedy
Designer Sh*t x Dom Kennedy
Locals Only x Dom Kennedy
1997 x Dom Kennedy