By Dom Kennedy
Dom Kennedy, the independent rapper who reps the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, is a summertime rapper. He makes music to ride around and waste gas to. His latest album, By Dom Kennedy, is more of what you've come to expect from him—bouncy West Coast soul paired with unflappable rhymes—but that's not a bad thing. It's cool for a rapper to experiment, but it's just as cool for a rapper to know his lane and not veer from it. Dom is one of the best at staying the course, and in turn, he's built a nice fan base. Where T.D.E. and Nipsey Hussle give us the streets of L.A. from a more sociopolitical point of view, Kennedy gives us the other side of Southern California, the side with BBQs, girls, and fly shit. Play this album on the way to fuck up some commas.
While By Dom Kennedy boasts similar subject matter as past Dom projects, it's not his best work. "My First Reply (Till It's Over)," "What I Tell Kids," and "Fried Lobster" featuring Bonic (of Philly's Most Wanted fame) are the standout tracks, but none of them hold a candle to previous efforts such as "1997," "Locals Only," "Platinum Chanel," and "We Ball.""Fried Lobster" is a recycled beat from a Joey Fatts tape. Dom does it better, but that's a valid knock. We've heard it before, and Bonic ate him on his own shit.
The first verse on "My First Reply (Till It's Over)" is one of Dom's best, though.
"You could check my background and see the highlights
Twenty stories up, baby, get your mind right
I'm gettin' head on site, you just a bitter motherfucker
When the light hit, it look like Jigga, motherfucker"
Those couple lines are my favorites. Leave it to Dom to spit that fly shit like your favorite neighborhood superstar. That's what we expect of him. "What I Tell Kids" might be the best song on the 11-track project. Over very groovy Jake One and Skyscrapa production, Dom tells kids about girls licking his nuts off and bank robberies. The title is confusing to me, too, but whatever, the song is still great. "Thank You Biggie" is a dope track. The beat Jake One and Darrius Willrich made is fucking amazing. The piano keys really bring it over the top. On this particular track Dom proclaims that "Get Money" was his favorite song growing up, and that L.A. is running rap, so in turn he's on top of the food chain because he runs L.A. rap (according to him, anyway.) Jake One gave Dom some crack on this joint. Hopefully they'll continue to work together.
The only song I really can't fuck with is the lead single, "2 Bad," because it follows the generic blueprint of every other rap song about a girl. There's an R&B-like beat, Tish Hyman on the hook, raps about how good she looks—rinse, wash, repeat. I don't hate it, per say, but we've heard this song before plenty of times, from plenty of rappers. I have to salute him for the Mo Better Blues reference, though.
Dom Kennedy's third studio release is short and to the point leaving no room for fillers. But it lacks the certified bangers we're used to him delivering. Still, it's a solid offering from an independent artist once again proving that major labels aren't important anymore. Summer anthems aside, By Dom Kennedy still gives us that summer sound. In a perfect world, Dom would give us a new project every June.
Angel Diaz is a staff writer for Complex Media. Follow him @ADiaz456.