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Gotta Love Dom: The Underrated Rapper has Built a Cult Following Without Selling Out

With the continuous influx of soulless, mumble rap, many of us are yearning for the good old days. Fortunately, there are a few rappers out there restoring our faith in the genre. One such artist is Dom Kennedy, a west-coast rapper from L.A. who brings to mind some of the most influential rap artists of the last few decades, including the likes of Ice Cube and Too $hort. His mellow tone still features the playful yet rugged charisma that so many rappers today lack while playing over beats that make you want to grab a beer and catch the last few hours of the summer’s day.

While he’s been garnering the attention of fans since his 2008 project, 25th Hour, his popularity only seems to grow as he continues to build his portfolio. My personal favorite songs of his, “I Love Dom” and “When I Come Around”, are off his 2011 project, “II: From the Westside, With Love”. Releasing this mixtape for free allowed him to reach a broader audience and, in my opinion, stake his place in hip hop for years to come.

After all this time he has still maintained his status as an independent label artist at Other People’s Money (OPM). While he isn’t the type of artist you’re going to be hearing frequently on the airways or at trendy top 40 clubs, he’s okay with that and so are his fans. It might even have a lot to do with why they have so immensely embraced him. In his own words during an interview with the Los Angeles Times, he sums up his approach to his craft best, “Popularity doesn’t always go with artistry.” Instead of chasing the acceptance of the masses, he chooses to focus his efforts on creating tracks that he is proud of and that he feels embody his experiences as well as Los Angeles culture which is evident through much of his music. He even named his 2016 project “Los Angeles is Not for Sale: Volume 1”.

He recently released a mixtape, Addicted to the Underground, and a new album, Volume 2, a sequel to his 2016 release, within a few months of one another. Unsurprisingly, both have been very well received. If you’re looking for something new to listen to on your drive home, I highly recommend the album and especially the tracks “Win or Lose” or “Bending Corners”. You can also check out his first video from Volume 2 for “Brenda’s Baby” and form your own opinion:

His dedication to his style and refusal to sell out has set him apart in an overly saturated industry. So much of his music is reminiscent of the days of “I had a Good Day” and “Players Club”. He has actually worked with Too $hort on multiple tracks to the liking of many of us who are loyal fans of the West Coast sound. While his music is easy listening and he’s not necessarily a lyrical mastermind like Kendrick Lamar and Joyner Lucas, he is not passive. His flow, deeper voice, and carefully selected beats are almost hypnotizing and shouldn’t be underrated.

If you like what you hear or have been a long-time fan, he will be performing live in San Diego at Soma on December 7th and at The Observatory in Santa Ana on December 11th.

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