A Westside Story | Live With Dom Kennedy

Lemeirt Park Legend, The Original Dom, Notorious DOM, Dom Corleone - there’s a handful of monikers that our latest interviewee has donned in his young rap career. None greater than the most elite of names, a harbinger of American excellence – DOM KENNEDY, as if heir to his nation’s most beloved president. With all the mannerisms of his G-Funk forefathers on the west coast and all the idiosyncrasies of their counterparts on the east side of the country, DOM KENNEDY is very much a two-sided coin in the industry of rap in more ways than one.

Dom’s from a hybrid generation of young rappers who seamlessly intertwine a life in the streets with a life in popular street culture. He’s a throwback to the days of 40 ounces and Raiders caps with the style sensibilities to dig for ‘Lo gear and duck camo hunting coats. He’s a seed of South Central, Los Angeles but a product of both those inner-city neighbourhoods and the street-intelligent nooks of Fairfax adjacent to Downtown LA. He’s been able to marry those two frames of mind for the betterment of his craft, while never fails to mention the worth of his upbringing on the grittier avenues of sunny Californ-i-a. Simultaneously, Kennedy is the last of a certain dying breed in rap while also a player in a new era of up & comers who understand their markets; keeping both an ear to the street and an eye on subculture.

Heavily underrated is a major understatement when it comes to industry awareness with this dude. He’s still very much considered a young pup, but even in his efforts to craft LP-styled projects like From The Westside With Love I and II or my personal favourite, The ORIGINAL DOM KENNEDY, Dominic continues to receive half-assed looks from the so-called elite media heads in hip hop. We can only assume that much of that disregard has to do with being an indie rapper, moving under his own umbrella without backing from a major label. Certainly journeying on this unpaved route has major advantages though (see Rocafella Records), because of it he enjoys complete creative control with his own record label, the OPM Company.

Some of the content yes, is about cash, flamboyance and women, but in the full scope of things he’s reflecting an honest outlook from the mindset of a mid-20 year old. By no means is the breadth of his records a purely cash-rules-everything-around-me mentality. There’s a consciousness for creating a well rounded body of work with an emphasis on keeping features and production close to camp. Every outing Dom clearly reveals different facets of himself as a man. He’s a player, he’s introspective and a student of the game all wrapped in one, which all play to a status as an artist coming into his own. As far as we’re concerned, he’s at the forefront of the Westcoast along with Nipsey and already a cog in that elite genre-pushing class of artistes. It’s the delivery, the attitude and the sensitivity to his craft. If you’re not a believer, please (re)visit Dom’s last 4 projects as well as the bevy of guest spots he’s had with other acts on the brink of full-fledged success, notably Skeme, Big Krit, Chuck Inglish, Curren$y & Pac Div. We’re more than willing to engage in a long, drawn out discussion with anybody.

When we caught up with Kennedy at the Freshest’s 4-Year Anniversary for his debut performance in Vancouver, it was evident that he was grind’n out a bi-coastal tour that was more a tight-knit nucleus consisting of him, DJ Drewbyrd, manager Archie Davis and his pops, rather than a large, blown out posse operation. The road of independence is always the path less traveled but it always garners the most respect when you return back home, to the roots. Lemeirt Park Legend in the making…

foreword + interview by Justin C. Lintag
stills by Mario Soriano
film by Mario & Marlon Soriano