One of the Westcoast’s most promising young stars, 1997 was when I became a fan of Dom Kennedy. Dom oozed star power. He had the innate ability to bounce from hype, to something to ride to, to something for the ladies, with little effort.
The Original Dom Kennedy, From Westside With Love I, and II were all positive steps up the ladder but something happened along that climb. For me, it was when he dropped The Yellow Album. At the peak of his career he dropped a dud. There were some beats and tracks but let’s call a spade a spade. That project was as bad as this line he boasted, “my bitch.. bad piece.. yo bitch.. got bad feet!” That line was horrendous. I mean Dom was the dude who did his thing years ago on She Needs Me RMX with a dynamite Kendrick Lamar, where did that Dom go? At this point in time (The Yellow Album), both Dom and Kendrick were solidifying their spots in the hiphop scene nationwide, and Dom Kennedy blew it. You see it now but it was subliminally shown back then. Dom’s verse versus Kendrick’s in We Ball.
Dom was known to keep his lyrics simple yet it touched the people. You pair that natural way of words with an effortless flow, and it was a match made in heaven. This time around that was not the case. His effortless flow was paired with effortless rhymes that belonged in the unreleased folder.
Since that time I quit checking for Dom. Since then, it may not have been so great for Dom either.
I recently went back to check some of his new music. When his album, By Dom Kennedy, initially dropped, I gave it a listen, and it was alright but didn’t have that same impact his earlier work did. It didn’t reel me in. He just.. didn’t sound the same.
That was 2015. About two months ago, I saw that he may have suffered a stroke. Now there’s no confirmed source, just word of mouth, but I googled for a source and all I found was a Coli thread that asked the same question. “Did Dom Kennedy suffer a stroke?”
If you listen to his latest record Los Angeles Is Not For Sale, it does sound like he’s off beat. Just some milliseconds but enough to notice something is off. It’s like he’s struggling to flow from bar to bar at times. His delivery also lacks that punch he used to have. Here is when I start to feel like a douche. I go listen to the Half-A-Mil 3 EP with him and Hit-Boy (should’ve stayed with G.O.O.D. Music, Hit), and here he sounded weak as well. I’m aware of cases where rappers have regressed lyrically, but to hear a rapper regress so much in delivery? Impossible, right? Being creative, understandably, can get tougher but the recording process should be easier with experience?
Definitely feeling like a full douche at this point. Hearing Los Angeles Is Not For Sale with this new found information, who am I to judge anyone’s art. I don’t know what everyone is going through, the blood, sweat and tears that went into their work. All that time invested into perfecting it just for someone like me to swoop in and call it trash within 3 songs, man I’m trash. I wish I could just appreciate all art for what it is but I just can’t. It’s not in me. I was already opinionated, then I went to art school where it’s pounded in our heads to critically analyze everything. Art is meant to be critiqued anyways. All that said though, I will always respect a person willing to work no matter the conditions. He didn’t allow it to stop his hustle.
Though his flow can get a little rough around the edges on Los Angeles Is Not For Sale, he is actually spitting. If he would’ve did this joint instead of The Yellow Album, he would be straight. Maybe up there with the Wales, Big Seans, A$APs, JColes and Kendricks, who knows.
Sidebar, he raps about respect in the hood a lot and I believe that goes a long way in hiphop. Especially in these times where it feels so political and in-genuine. Someone with that type of respect in the streets could turn the industry upside down. If it was the right handler. Dom could’ve been the gatekeeper of the Westcoast.
Some lines from his 96 Cris track, “I’m grinning hardly as much as when I was younger, thinking they would acknowledge me, I couldn’t have been dumber, I’d still rap better than y’all if I was a plumber.” To me, that sounds like someone that knew he missed his opportunity. As time passes and people reflect on their past, sometimes you can’t help but feel some regret. He may have missed the opportunity but he’s still living the dream and enjoying life in the process.
I was once a lost fan but now I’m back. Los Angeles Is Not For Sale is solid work, and I’m not sure if this was his aim but that title sounds like what I mean with my respect in the streets/turning the industry upside down text. He’s no sellout?
Give the project a listen and show some love if y’all feeling it. This is a project I have been listening to often as of late. Please watch your health as well, it’s important.
I’m not a writer.